Monday, February 15, 2010

Consider It ALL Joy???

Not at 1:53 a.m. in the morning, I wasn't. After dozing off in a rather contorted position while awaiting my next flight to Houston, I was abruptly awakened by the US Airways representative's announcement that Flight 1402 was now cancelled. I sat straight up and jerked my head around in shock. "What?!?!"I blurted out. I came all this way in hopes of getting to my mother's 60th birthday celebration and now this! My principal had suggested I fly out Wednesday night, after work so I could have Thursday through Sunday with my family, before returning the following Monday. Now what??!?
People threw their arms up, wailing in disgust. For the past three hours we kept being told that the flight was delayed due to mechanical problems and a new crew from Hartford would be there to take us onto Houston. The crew from Hartford had indeed come, but they were not taking us anywhere. I frantically called my mother who was supposed to be picking me up, to tell her the flight had now been cancelled. "What? What happened? Leighann, you paid for those tickets they have got to do something for you! I am so sorry this happened! You are never going to visit me again after this," she lamented.
"I'm never flying at night or flying US Air again," I retorted back. By this time, additional customer service reps had spread out between three gates to find people alternate flights. "Everyone is going to the counters. I'll have to call you back when I get something," I explained.
I heard 7:40 a.m. announced as the first flight out of Charlotte, but that was only for those fortunate enough to fly first class. One older man began to cry out in angst, "We've got a funeral to get to. We paid over $1600.00 for tickets, you've got to do something!" The service reps were trying to accommodate people, but there were only so many seats and so many flights. "I'm sorry sir, the soonest flight we have is 11:45 a.m.," the rep. informed him.
"That's too late! We'll miss the funeral. You might as well take us back to Detroit. We came all this way for nothing!" the man vented. I just stood in line, waiting my turn, thinking, maybe I should just go back to N.Y. . I came all this way to honor my mother for her birthday and celebrate, but now God only knew when I would get there. God. Yes, He knew, and I trusted Him, but now I didn't know what to think. James 1:2-4 (The Message reads:"Consider it a sheer gift friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way."
I thought back to the time in my early twenties when my vehicle broke down on a dimly lit road at about 12 midnight. God had provided for me then. My Pop Pops came to get me, and took me home. This time was vastly different. I was stranded in Charlotte, NC, alone, and with no one to come fetch me. No one to stand next to and offer an encouraging word or hug. I stepped up to the counter and handed the middle aged, African American woman my ticket. She began to type away, searching for another flight for me. "You can either go on stand by or there is a flight at 2:45 p.m. in the afternoon," she explained.
"I've never had this happen before, I don't know what to do. What are my chances on standby?" I questioned.
"There's going to be a lot of people on standby," she answered. The tears brimming in my eyes, began to overflow, and trickled down my cheeks. I so wanted to just go home. "I'll take the 2:45 p.m. ," I responded. She wrote the 800 number for a shuttle to the nearby Sleep Inn Hotel and handed it to me, along with a meal voucher ticket. "You just have to call the shuttle and they'll come pick you up. The meal voucher you can use either at the hotel or the airport," she explained. I accepted the tickets, nodded, and walked over to sit down as I brushed away the tears from my cheeks. I would not get to Houston until 5:00 p.m. later that day.
I called my mother back sobbing, "The only thing they had was 2:45 p.m. in the afternoon. I just want to go home. I don't know if I should stay here or go to the hotel. I don't know what to do."
"Go to the hotel. It's safer. There's gotta be someone else who's going, too," she encouraged.
"I don't know anyone. I just want to go home," I rambled on. By this time, I saw an older woman go into the ladies restroom, so I told my mother I would call her back, and followed. "Did they give you a voucher for a hotel, "I inquired.
"Yup, the Sleep Inn," she answered.
"Do you mind if I go with you? I've never been here before," I said.
"Sure, that's fine," she responded. I finished washing my hands, while the woman dialed the number for the shuttle. They would be there in about 20 minutes. We walked down to the baggage claim area, chatting along the way. She was older than me, but rather pleasant, and not the least bit rattled at all by the events of the past few hours. Her demeanor was most reassuring. I looked at my cell phone for the time and saw I had a new message from someone. My brother's girlfriend, Nikki had called. I called her back as soon as I found a seat. My mother called her because she remembered Nikki's mother had grown up in Charlotte. Nikki encouraged me greatly by saying, "Trust me, I've been stranded hundreds of times, this is just a setback. As far as Charlotte goes, my mom grew up there and you are in the safest place in the world. Your mom said you were thinking about going back to N.Y., but we really want you to still come. We're going to have a great time and really want you to be there."
I breathed a sigh of relief. What comfort! Shortly after that, the shuttle had pulled up along side the curb and I along with five others, were on our way to the Sleep Inn Hotel. The driver was most polite and friendly. "Here, let me get that for you," he offered as he took my bags and welcomed us to Charlotte with a big smile. By 3:30 a.m., I had climbed into the big, comfy, queen sized bed after a relaxing hot shower and drifted off to sleep.
By 9:30 a.m. I was dressed and sitting in the lobby, waiting for the shuttle to take us back to the airport. Another older African American gentleman, very friendly, began chatting with me. Somewhere in the midst of the conversation, he began to admonish that the secret to life is to be content and enjoy the moment in spite of its ups and downs. Easier said then done. I was relieved that God had brought me this far and provided words of encouragement and a nice hotel to get a hot shower and few hours sleep, but I was still lamenting internally over the inconvenience and time lost with my family.
During my next few hours in the airport, I discovered a book entitled, "What Happens When Women Walk in Faith" by Lysa Terkeurst. After purchasing it, I meandered over to one of the several white rocking chairs which lined the food court, and sat down to read. Terkeurst started her introduction with a reference to the Israelites moving through the desert. She pointed out that even when Israel was moving in the direction God wanted them to, they still faced obstacles. They needed to trust and press through. My eyes filled with tears once again, this time from conviction. Somehow, I had surmised that because I was doing what God wanted me to do, which was to honor and bless my mother, then surely everything would go smoothly, and I would reach my destination worry free. Thoughts of, "Why the delay? Why the lost time? The aggravation? Why God why?" had circled in my head for the past few hours. I could not see any purpose in this and was both angered and frustrated by the time lost. Time that would never be restored. Yet, now I was being admonished to press through because obstacles are part for the course.
By 2:30 p.m. I had boarded the plane and was finally on my way to Houston; relieved and grateful. I would still be able to be there for the festivities on Friday and Saturday to celebrate. I lost one day in travelling, but upon returning to N.Y. my mother had been deeply touched by my presence there. When I called her to tell her I had made it back safely, she began to cry. With a strained voice all choked up, she said, "I really appreciate you coming down. You don't know how much it meant to me that you came all that way for me." I was able to respond with, "I'm glad I came. I'm glad I did it! It was well worth it. I don't want to have any regrets."

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this touching story Leighann, and it's written beautifully!!