“Something like this can ruin your whole trip!” That was the expression of a friend who heard about our travel ordeal. We were concluding two weeks of study in Oxford followed by a short visit to our friends in the Southern coast of England. A perfect finale for an enriching and memorable experience. We boarded the plane in London, and settled in for a 10-hour flight to Houston, and then a shorter one to Dallas. The plane was a 787 Dreamliner (my favorite plane). But the excitement didn’t last long.
About 20 minutes into the flight, the entertainment system froze. Not only did we not have the vast selection of movies usually available on long-distance flights, but my overhead light didn’t work, and neither did the electrical outlets between seats. I couldn’t read… I couldn’t use my computer. Nothing! I was going to have to just sit and do nothing for 10 hours! (7 hours later the crew managed to reset the entertainment system and we enjoyed it for the rest of the flight). As we were about to land in Houston a thunderstorm settled over the airport and they rerouted us to Austin! The additional travel, plus a 2-hour wait in Austin meant that we landed in Houston 4 hours later than expected, and we missed our connecting flight to Dallas. The next available flight was 17 hours later! Not a good option. So we rented a car and got on the road (5 hour-drive), hoping to make it home that night. But we had been up for 21 hours already, and within 3 hours both Kerry and I were falling asleep, so we had to check into a hotel, spend the night, and finish driving the next morning. By the time we got home we had been traveling for over 36 hours.
Yes, all of this could have ruined our trip. But when we go through bad experiences, we always have a choice to make. We can focus on all the bad things (the normal human tendency) and feel miserable, or focus on the good things and give thanks.
Paul exhorts us in Philippians 4:8 to think on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise.” And he says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to “give thanks in all circumstances.”
On this occasion I had to choose whether I would focus on everything that went wrong, or on all the good things involved. For example:
* I could focus on the length of the flight – or be grateful for the opportunity to travel overseas.
* I could focus on the broken entertainment system – or be grateful for the technology that makes any sort of entertainment available while cruising 30,000 feet in the air!
* I could focus on the detour to Austin – or be grateful for a smooth and safe flight.
* I could focus on missing our connecting flight – or be grateful that we had all our luggage with us and were able to rent a car without hardship.
* I could focus on having to stop on our way home – or be grateful that were able to find a nice hotel and that we can afford it.
I choose to focus on the good, and give thanks for the many blessings I receive daily from God.
If you are going through difficult circumstances, give it a try! There is always something to be thankful for. Make a list of the things for which you are grateful, and set your mind on those things.
Dr. Chiqui Polo-Wood | All Rights Reserved 2015