Fellow personal space lovers, here is a tale for you. As a mom of three, I am very aware of my personal space. Daily, it’s invaded. My littlest is constantly climbing on me, following me, hugging me, touching me, and being as near to me as possible. My middle child is also very cuddly, and he likes to pet me at times. Literally, he will just run his hand down my arm or my side. My oldest child has moved out of that touchy-feely stage, so I know for a fact I will miss this one day. I do love this part of motherhood, even on the days I’d do anything for a tad bit of personal space. I am blessed to have three beautiful children who love being around me.
My husband and I just got back from our first childless vacation since May 2008. Much overdue, especially given the massive changes our family went through this past year with our move. The lady who checked us into the hotel informed us the place would be empty. I couldn’t have been happier. I am not a big fan of crowds. On our first full day at the beach, we went and got our complimentary (as in, included in the resort fee) chairs and umbrella. NO ONE WAS ON THE BEACH. And there was a lot of beach. I was nearly giddy over this. So we picked a nice spot and plopped down. Within an hour, people situated themselves on both sides of our chairs. Close. Every time a chair came near us, I rolled my eyes and looked around the beach. I still don’t understand it. I definitely let it get to me. The second day, we weren’t out on the beach and by the time we got to the pool, we were able to find a spot not immediately on top of people. Days three and four really tested my patience… Day three, we decided to pick a spot near the rentals because it truly wasn’t busy and no one was really renting anything. Lo and behold, in that small space between, a couple ladies managed to put their chairs down. FACING ME. I mean, if we had both leaned over, we could have held hands. I got up and moved my chair over a little. I could hear their entire conversations, and even texted my friend complaining about this. We went up to the pool after a few hours, and found a nice spot away from everyone. And then, two people set up shop a few chairs away from us. Day four, our last morning, we went down to the pool at 8. We were the ONLY people there. You all, this pool probably had about 150 lounge chairs. We set our stuff down. About 20 minutes later, another couple comes to the pool. And sit three chairs away. I really was not happy.
Sitting there, annoyed at the lack of regard for personal space people in Florida seem to have, God convicted me. For one, I should have been focusing my internal dialogue on conversing with Him. It’s one of my goals for the prayer challenge. Second, why am I worried about these people? I believe He placed people close to me to teach me a lesson. For real. So while I sat there, I prayed for them. After all, I heard their entire conversations because of their proximity. I prayed for the woman who had battled breast cancer. I prayed for the couple on their first vacation in years. I prayed for the guys there for a sales conference. I once read that everyone we encounter on a given day is placed there by God. These strangers God strategically placed so close to me? Maybe they needed the extra prayers. Maybe my lesson is I still have a long way to go with the whole “love your neighbor” thing. Jesus told the disciples the second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). Jesus didn’t mean for me to abide by this when it’s convenient for me. All the time, we need to love our neighbors. It’s not always easy…and maybe when it’s not easy, we should be trying our hardest to love them and pray for them.