Why I Don’t Want to Be Clark Griswald Anymore (…or, “The Unlikely Spiritual Lessons from National Lampoon’s European Vacation”)


Years ago, my sister, Kristin, and I watched the movie, “National Lampoon’s European Vacation”. TO THIS DAY there are a few scenes that will still send us into fits of giggles just thinking about them! Here’s the scoop:

Clark Griswald and family arrive in London and are trying to navigate their way around town. Now, remember, in England, they drive on what we Americans consider to be the “wrong side of the road”. Add to that, many intersections are simply “round-a-bouts”: like revolving doorways where once you get in, you need to make sure you know where to get out or you will be driving in circles forever!

Well, Clark, (the dad) is driving this itty bitty car in this huge round-about near Big Ben and the British Parliament Building. In his frustration of not being able to get over and get out of traffic, Clark says to his family, “Well there they are, kids – Big Ben, Parliament.” Thirty seconds later, as they once again pass them, he says, “Big Ben, Parliament” and this escapade continues for what seems like hours. Don’t ask me why it is so funny, but I promise you it is! (Well, maybe this is just one of those “you had to be there” things…!)

Anyway, this concept of the Griswald’s experiencing Europe by taking ten-second glances at monuments, artwork, cathedrals, etc., continues throughout the whole movie. Check out this super short video clip to see what I’m talking about!!

That crazy Griswald family ends the movie realizing they missed the true blessings of a family vacation together because they were just going through the motions instead of really taking the time and energy to really dig in and experience it.

I’ve been thinking that maybe this is what our spiritual lives can be like, can’t they?!  I know mine can. There are times when I feel like “Wendie Griswald”, sitting in church looking at my watch, anxious to get onto the next thing in my day without actively listening or truly experiencing any of it.

Or maybe it’s when I pick up my Bible, read a verse about forgiveness, think, “Oh, wasn’t that nice?”, and move on to complain to my husband about a friend who slighted me that day, making no connection at all to what I just read. Maybe it’s during a holiday celebration of something and I am so busy trying to make it so “special” for my family that I neglect to relish in the real meaning of the celebration.

Or maybe it’s just when I make all the wrong choices – CONSISTENTLY sabotaging my own best efforts to do otherwise – simply because I tried to control everything myself, in an effort to get things done, and get them done quickly, without asking God for help.

Have you ever found yourself acting like a “Griswaldian Tourist”, hastily going about your business (and busy-ness) only to later feel unfulfilled? Like you missed the point of it and wish you could rewind and do it again but with more intention?

Sweet friends, let’s stop being the Griswalds! Instead of just taking snapshots of where we’ve been and getting the perfect picture of what we think we should be “seeing and doing” on this trip, let’s try something different. Let’s stop just going through the motions and actually LIVE.

I want more than snapshots to pop into a showy photo album or slideshow (or even one of those new, flashy Facebook movies… 😉 ). What I’m going for is life change.

I’m going for proof that I WAS THERE, that I walked in those shoes, that I dug my heels in, did the work, felt the sand in my toes, maybe even got a blister or scar to prove it. And then, I will be able to proclaim that my soul grew because of it.

Sweet, sweet friends, this time, I’m rising.

Rising up from all sorts of downs. Emotional, physical, spiritual, relational. Why? Because that’s how we are meant to live. And this is what God says that looks like:

Job 11

Sounds heavenly.

If you are on this journey with all of us here at Stringing Pearls with Wendie, this week your homework is to read the Introduction to Stepping Up: a Journey Through the Psalms of the Ascent by Beth Moore. Dedicate the next 15 weeks to getting from here to THERE – (Job 11:16, 18 – right there above in that pretty picture!).

Peace and grace to you this week! Be sure to check out our song of the week – “How Sweet the Sound”, by Citizen Way. This YouTube acoustic performance is awesome! Enjoy!

Some of this post was taken from my book, The KISS (Keepin’ It Simple, Sisters): Jumping into the Bible with Both Feet!  I’ll be teaching this Bible study in March at Mayslake Ministries in Downers Grove, Illinois.  Wanna be a part of it?!  Click here to register: Mayslake Ministries KISS Bible Study!

With loads of love,


Up next week:  Where are your priorities?!


4 responses »

  1. Love the new study! I want to read ahead and race to the top!!!! Practicing discipline & patience (not my forte) to work one day/week at a time!!!
    …. just for a little giggle…. This morning with my face to the floor I spaced out for a moment and thought…”hmmm..I never noticed how soft & warm my carpet is.” Thankful for a bright start to the day in praise of God’s providence.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s