Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thes. 5:18

(Hey FRIENDS! I'm back! ...kind of. I hope to be back to blogging, but must confess it is taking a LOT to get readjusted to full time teaching. Please know I wil try my best to update regularly, but it might not be every week. More likely I'll update this blog one week, and Light for the Journey, the next week, alternating through the end of the year. Please be patient with me..... THANKS!)

I am a chicken. In some places I’m confident and strong. But in some of the silliest places I’m a chicken. I hate calling for takeout or delivery for example. Could there be anything of lesser importance? And yet I hate to interact with strangers over the phone. I know it comes from deep rooted fears of rejection and fears of making a mistake to induce rejection. And I’m getting better now that I’m drawing closer to my half century mark! :) But it still feels uncomfortable.

I know that seems ironic, silly fears of making arrangements, especially considering how much I’ve traveled this year. But most trips were to places I knew, organized with the help of others, and frequently occurred by driving which left me in control. But not my trip to Cape Cod.

I knew where I was going for the most part, but hadn’t been there for 5 years. My husband arranged the flights and rental car, but I had to execute. I’ve flown alone before, but not since the chaos brought on by 9/11. But with only an hour flight, that part wasn’t overly concerning even with flying into an unfamiliar airport. However, I’d never rented a car. I’d observed my husband twice this past year, but must confess dealing with the rental car induced the most anxiety.

But August 15, off I went and even in spite of strong rain the entire day, all went smooth for my trip north. The fun began on my trip home.

Concerned about traffic, I left several hours early and had no trouble returning the car. I wouldn’t go so far as “smug” but I was pleased with being able to handle these “grown up” responsibilities. My flight was delayed about 15 minutes when I arrived at the airport two hours early. Catching up with friends, (love how cell phones make the world so much smaller), filled the time.

But then my flight got moved back 2 hours… mechanical issues with the plane. The plane to fly me home to Baltimore was actually coming from Baltimore to Providence, and then returning. So I waited, made some new friends, and thanked God that the mechanical issues were discovered before I was on the plane at 30,000 feet!

The afternoon wore on while BWI personnel realized the plane could not be fixed, found another plane, boarded the passengers and prepared to leave the gate. My 1:30 flight was now scheduled to leave at 6. But then weather developed over the New York City area. The flight from Baltimore sat boarded, waiting, on the tarmac for over 2 hours! Many flights from Providence heading south also sat. By 5:30, the flight coming from Baltimore, the plane to take me home, was canceled thus canceling mine. All 3 other flights from Providence to Baltimore were also canceled. So I, and 4 flights worth of travelers, scrambled to find a way home!

I can’t tell you how many times I thanked God that day for cell phones. Jeff worked on options from the home end via computer and I waited in line with the hundreds of others. By the time I reached the counter a half hour later, one seat remained on the last flight to Baltimore the next day, 6:30pm. Since my flight trouble began with mechanical issues, we hoped I’d get some support and compensation. But “since that problem was fixed” they offered no help. I could sit overnight in the airport, hope for stand by with the rest of the masses, and eventually get home over 24 hours late. OR, I could find another way. To shorten the story, Jeff booked me a seat on an overnight train from Providence to Baltimore. I’d be home by 7am.

Although thankful for the option, remember how this story began? Here stood Juli the Chicken having to find her luggage, find a way to the train station in an unfamiliar city, pick up her ticket, get on the right train, and experience a totally foreign method of travel. Many of you will read this and think, SO???, but please realize how monumental this was for me. I stood on the verge of tears.

But then God broke through my fear.

It’s time to practice what you learned this week.

That’s what he said.

You see, that week while on the Cape, I read Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts. The meaty way it addressed the concept of gratitude belongs in a theology book. But her writing style and word choice make you feel like you’re reading poetry. I highly recommend the book. But one essence of the book that applied to my situation was how thankfulness was the bridge to trust.

I remembered reading how feelings are stronger than thoughts. She commented that you couldn’t positively think your way out of an emotion. You had to fight a feeling with a feeling. You could only feel one feeling at a time. If I purposed to feel thankfulness and gratitude, it was impossible to feel fear, or anger, or any of the other emotions of which I struggled to be free.

THAT is what God called me to implement. Did I trust him? Could I continue the thankfulness I felt earlier that day for my safety? Could I thank him even in this hard time? Would I trust that he was with me and in control, that he had this?

So I stopped the tears ready to fall and told myself to grow up. People do this all the time. I’m not alone, God’s got this, it’s time to move.

So I prayed myself through, asking God to show me what to do. I started thanking God for everything that went right.

Thank you for the clerk to show me where my luggage sat.
Thank you finding my luggage was that easy!
Thank you for cell phones! (Consulted Jeff frequently)
Thank you for a help dek!
Thank you for a good airport…they had a direct train connecting the airport and train station!
Thank you for a cheap fare!!! $2.25 to get to the train station!
Thank you I don’t have to mess with a taxi.
Thank you for the help desk lady that wrote everything down, seeing my fluster, so I didn’t have to try to remember the information….
Thank you the train pick up is by the rental cars… I know where that is!
Thank you for strong legs that I can lug this luggage all the way!

And by the time I arrived to the train platform, just as my train pulled in, the fear was gone. I continued to thank and pray my way home, but God did certainly have this! And I learned a practical, valuable lesson.

I have a plaque in my kitchen that reads, There is Always, Always, Always something to be thankful for! And it’s true. And when my focus is on all God is doing, it cements my trust. That conquers my fear, and enables me to be the grown up I’m supposed to be! :) I think the title for this adventure should be “Juli Grows Up”.

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