United Airlines was more than understanding and accommodating, and they cheerfully booked me on the next available flight to Savannah at no cost. Of course, the next available flight was 8:30 am the next day. After spending one more unexpected night in the Washington D.C. area, I finally landed and was back home mid-day Monday. Of course, my run of bad luck wasn’t going to get any better once I was home. In fact, at one point I began to wonder if the dark cloud of iniquity that permeates some facets of our government had somehow followed me home from D.C.
No rest for the weary, because it wasn’t long after getting home, did I have to pick my infant daughter up from daycare early and take her to the doctor because she had an ear infection. Finally, by that afternoon I got to see my wife and other two kids for the first time in almost four days. Of course, I also got to see an air conditioning repair man, who was demoralizingly jovial, as he delivered the news that it would cost around $4,000 to get my air conditioning working again. That night, while my wife and I were contemplating which of our three kids we could most easily part with should we need to sell them into adoption to afford a new air conditioner, my wife’s 12-year old English Bulldog suffered a seizer and catastrophic kidney failure.
My no-good, terrible, very bad week, began this past Sunday. I had set my alarm to wake me up in plenty of time to catch my 12:30 pm flight out of Dulles International Airport and back home to Savannah. For unknown reasons, sometime during the night, my cell phone died, so no phone alarm ever went off. Preparing for the unforeseen, I had a set the clock on the hotel nightstand to go off at 8:30 am as a back-up. So no worries, right? Well, the clock alarm went off exactly at 8:30 am just like I set it. However, somehow the current time of 8:30 am on the clock alarm was really 11:30 am to the rest of the world. I woke up, in a hotel in Chantilly, VA with a rental car that still needed to be turned in, a boarding pass to obtain, a TSA screening to go through, all within 20 minutes before my flight was boarding. Just enough time to do absolutely nothing.
By Tuesday morning my wife would have to make the difficult decision to put her to sleep.
I would have to try to console my wife as best I could before I had to go to work Tuesday evening. At work, I would find myself having to mitigate the precarious crossroads of where politics and policing meet, only to get a call from my wife letting me know our six-month-old seemed to have a stomach bug to go with her ear infection and was vomiting.
Finally, by Wednesday morning it appeared that this ominous cloud of misfortune might be giving me a reprieve. Unfortunately, this was the late Billy Mays of bad luck, because just like his famous phrase from the Oxiclean commercials, my cursed week said, “But wait there’s more!” Wednesday afternoon my wife had to work late for a school function, so though I would usually pick the kids up from school when I was off anyway, that afternoon I HAD to pick the kids up. Which, should have been no problem, of course until, I somehow successfully locked the only set of keys to my car in it, while it was running. Armed with the knowledge gained from arresting plenty of entering auto and auto theft suspects, and the determination not to pay to have a locksmith unlock my car, I found myself scouring my garage for the makeshift tools to commit a "B and E" ("breaking and entering" for those not hip to the lingo).
As I searched for my tools for the commission of a crime, I happened to put myself in my garage at the exact moment that a portion of the ceiling would collapse from the weight of water that had pooled as a result of a leak in a drain pipe to the upstairs washing machine. Standing there covered in bits of sheetrock, I had reached the point where the only thing left to do was just start laughing. That kind of laugh that isn’t really a funny laugh, rather it is an uncomfortable to watch laugh that resembles Heath Ledger’s portrayal of Batman’s archenemy the Joker.
So what do you do when it seems like the entire world is collapsing around you? In my case, literally on top of you. What do you do when you find yourself in-between just going to bed and giving up on life at that moment or trying to find a Catholic Priest to do an exorcism on your home?
All of us have gone through points like this in our lives, and all of us will go through them again. However, sometimes it takes moments like these to realize that nothing is good or bad at any given moment. Rather, it is only what the outcome is, that will tell us if something seemingly disastrous, is merely temporary misfortune leading us to lasting prosperity. For example, most people have experienced a break-up at some point in their life. At the time it may feel crappy. You may even be depressed and feel dejected. However, the one thing I have never heard anyone who was in a relationship say is, “Man, I sure do miss the last relationship I was in.” Basically, what if getting dumped, is exactly what you need to meet the person of your dreams? Because you have to know the person that isn't what you dream of, to realize when someone is the person of your dreams. Often life isn’t kicking us in the proverbial balls. Instead, sometimes life is kicking us in the ass in order to make significant positive changes in our lives.
Additionally, at rough times, we also have to remember there are always someone else that has it worse than us. For me, I had to remember the man I met in Antigua, in the Caribbean, years back. I remember, how happy he seemed when he showed me his 300 square foot home he lived in with his family of four. Or how he told me about his 17-year old son, who had a genetic disease and wasn’t expected to live to be 20. He said to me, “I tell my son, you don’t feel sorry for yourself. There are others who have it worse than you do.”
Or even closer to home, I remember the middle school student, I sat on a school bus and talked with a couple of months back. The bus driver had called the police because he and another student had got into a fist fight on the bus. I remember how he told me he was sorry for what he had done, and how his emotions had got the best of him because the other student had playfully made a joke about his mother. The joke happened to strike a significant chord with this young man because his mother was dying of cancer and almost assuredly would never see him grow up.
Lastly, sometimes we have to remember that during our roughest of times it feels like we are stranded and lost in a vast desert of nothingness. However, God doesn’t abandon us to a wasteland, and we are never really alone. Sometimes, the blessing we want is right in front of us. However, it is like discovering an orange for the first time in our life.
If you were starving and thirsty and bit into the orange, you wouldn't receive any relief, and you might be quick to throw it away. However, the aid we seek just requires us to struggle and peel off the orange's tough outer layer. Once you peel back the outer layers, you discover the sweetness and blessing you desire.
So maybe our no-good, terrible, very bad weeks, are just the work that is necessary for us to peel back the layers so we can reach our fantastic, incredible, very good future. As for me, what fruit will come from my no-good, terrible, very bad week? Well, I’m not sure yet. That is yet to be seen. However, I trust that a Divine source of power has not given me the opportunity to share my story and this message with you, only to not demonstrate its validity.
Truthfully, I wouldn’t want to have an amazing, fantastic, very good future, if it meant I didn’t have a chance to have others believe in the greatest of their own futures, and to trust, they too can be amazing.