And the thing is, I was prepared. But sometimes no amount of preparation can spare you from the unexpected.
Let me explain. I spoke for two events in San Francisco. When I booked my return flight, I almost chose an early afternoon flight, but because I didn’t want to rush after my last event, I booked a late afternoon flight instead. I knew I would have to wait at the airport, but armed with my last few Christmas cards and some work on writing projects, I figured I could use the wait time productively.
Except the flight was delayed. And delayed again. And again.
And then my flight was cancelled altogether, leaving me and 150 other passengers scrambling to find the next flight home to Orange County. Only there were no more flights available. As in zero.
And the thing is, today is JP’s birthday. Of course we have plans; the whole family is scheduled to leave from our house at 9:30 this morning for a fun-filled day at Disneyland. (Side note: it’s pouring the rain as I type this. Which is unfortunate, too.)
Thankfully I found a flight to Los Angeles, rather than home to Orange County—the last seat on the last flight to anywhere in southern California.
It wasn’t the most convenient situation but I decided to count my blessings rather than my burdens.
But let me be straight up honest, it was a choice.
Attitudes always are.
In fact, I came dangerously close to texting JP a snarky comeback when he sounded a smidge frustrated over having to drive to LA in the rain to pick me up. Of course he didn’t know the whole situation surrounding the flight change, and I didn’t know he had already driven to LA once earlier in the day. But still, from my perspective, snarky felt a little justified. But here’s the thing: snarky can be cute if it’s said in fun, but snarky is never funny if it’s born out of frustration.
There is power in the pause.
An emotional, relational pause button is a powerful tool in the midst of a series of unfortunate circumstances. It allows us to stop. To think. To ask, Is this really what I want to say? Is this really how I want to say it? Is this how I want to be?
Is it easy to pause? Not always. But it’s easier to pause than to rewind. Too many of us rely on the hope of rewinding our response when we’d be much better served by pressing the pause button instead.
The power of the pause provides space for perspective. While we cannot always change our circumstance we can always alter our attitude.
Let’s none of us hide under the covers of the lie that says we can’t control our attitudes, or our actions, or our words. We can.
Because the alternative is downright misery.
I know because I’ve chosen a stinky attitude more often than I care to admit. And borne the consequences of said attitude. It’s not pretty.
What? You, too?
Unfortunate, inconvenient circumstances happen to us all. And sometimes unfortunate circumstances surface unholy actions and attitudes.
My guess is, these types of things happen more frequently around the holidays. Case in point: we had to put up our Christmas tree three times this year (yes, you read that right: three times) due to a leak in our Christmas tree stand.
Life rarely unfolds as planned, even if we are prepared. Maybe our best shot at wisdom in the midst of a series of unfortunate events is not meticulous preparation but realistic expectation.
In other words, expect the unexpected, choose to be flexible and practice the power of the pause.
I don’t know what series of unfortunate events might creep into your well-orchestrated life in the last few days leading up to Christmas; The flu. A gift that doesn’t arrive on time. A family squabble. Inclement weather. Grumpy kids.
But I do know this: because of Christmas God is with you. He’s for you. If you know Him as your Savior, He’s in you.
Let’s allow this truth to change our attitudes even when we cannot change our circumstances.
And for heaven’s sake, let’s practice the power of the pause.
Lord Jesus, thank you that you are Immanuel, God with us. You are God with me. Let me not lose sight of this truth, especially when life gets messy. Remind me of Your presence. Help me hit the pause button before I respond. Fill me with the peace that comes from having the right perspective and the right priorities. Amen.