I went on a trip recently and learned some valuable lessons while en route. I realized things about myself that needed to change and how to deal better with setbacks. Life lessons are not always fun to learn, are they? Here is what being stuck on the runway taught me and I wonder if it is a lesson for you, too.
That morning as I finished some last minute packing, my thoughts wandered to my day ahead. I was leaving that morning to fly to Charlotte, North Carolina with my dear friend for a workshop and was so excited! I made sure I had all the traveling necessities, said goodbye to the family, and headed to the airport with her. Because there was not a direct flight, we had a short layover in Phoenix. Anticipation covered any worry I had about making the connection. I have enough experience traveling to know this was doable.
The small, local airport was bustling with activity. We checked in for the flight and sat in the tiny boarding area. Over the intercom, we heard an announcement that the incoming plane was late, and our flight was delayed. We had a tight connection, but I calculated that we could still make it if the aircraft arrived soon. As I watched the minutes pass by, I began to worry. Finally, the plane came, and the passengers quickly boarded. Confident we had enough time, I relaxed.
Once on the plane, I got settled for a short flight and began to read. I soon noticed it was taking longer than usual to close the cabin door. Eventually, the pilot announced there was a mechanical issue with the aircraft. What?! Why?! A maintenance crew would arrive to assess the situation. After sitting on the runway for what seemed to be an eternity, it was evident that we would not make the connecting flight to our final destination. Enter the panic moment here. I looked over at my friend with worry and dismay in my eyes.
She phoned the airlines to book us on another flight, and the customer service representative told her she placed us on the next flight – a red eye! Dear God, help me. I do not sleep well on planes. Departing from Phoenix that night at 11:00 PM meant that we would have a 9-hour layover at the airport, we would have to change the car rental reservation, and cancel our first night’s stay at the hotel in Charlotte. I was NOT a happy traveler! This new itinerary ruined our plans for our first day in Charlotte. I told myself all the usual things like “I will not let this take my joy,” and “It will all be fine,” but it didn’t work for me at the moment.
I was incredibly disappointed, sad, and frustrated. In fact, more than that, I was mad! I will admit this was not one of my better moments. I was close to having a meltdown. Why was this happening? I could not understand the change of plans. I had everything all scheduled and organized, and this delay threw me off kilter. The plane ended up stuck on the runway for over an hour and a half. After landing in Phoenix, I marched straight over to the airline customer service desk to see what other options there were for us, and an agent booked us on the first flight out the following morning. Our first night of the trip was spent in a Phoenix hotel, not in Charlotte. We had to wake up at 2 AM to make the earliest flight out to Charlotte. Yikes! That did not improve my mood at all.
The change of plans crushed me. I had visions of all the sight-seeing we were going to miss and the relaxing I wanted to do before workshop the next evening. I had a hard time readjusting my attitude. I should have been thankful for so many things that were good about the trip, but gratitude was not my first response. I was pouting not praising, grumbling not grateful.
What happens when things don’t go according to plan?
Does this every happen to you?
Does a change in your day or schedule frustrate you?
Are you bothered when you don’t get your way?
What do you do when your carefully laid out plans go awry?
Here are ten tips for you (and me) to help deal with setbacks:
- Trust that God’s plan is always better than yours, even if you can’t see the reason. He has your best interests at heart.
- Be real with God and tell Him how you feel. Acknowledge that you are mad, upset, scared, or worried. Tell Him. He already knows 🙂
- Vent about your frustration, but don’t obsess about it.
- Realize others have faced this situation, too, or are facing it now as well.
- See it as an obstacle to overcome and try to figure out a possible solution.
- Uncover what you are genuinely upset about: lack of control, change, a failure, or what?
- Find the silver lining in your situation.
- Realize your situation could always be worse!
- See if there are any things you can learn from this situation.
- Be flexible!
Yes, my time in Charlotte was cut short, but I did end up making the most of my fantastic and fruitful time while there. I remembered I saved money by having the airlines pay for one night in a hotel. Score! What being stuck on the runway taught me is life does not always happen the way we want, does it? I still don’t understand the “why’s” of my itinerary change, but I did learn that when this kind of thing happens, I need to be better at going with the flow. I realized that I often get annoyed when my schedules alter. Plans often change when we least expect them. We must trust that God has our best in mind. He is sovereign and knows the desires of our hearts. Flexibility is key to making adjustments. Be flexible! I am sometimes a slow learner but earnestly trying to get better at this. How about you?
How do you usually respond when the unexpected happens? Did you ever have something like this happen to you? I would love to hear your stories.
Blessings to you,