Admittedly, I’ve been putting off this post. I traveled to Boston well over a month ago and it was such a mediocre experience I didn’t think there was anything to write about.
And really, there still isn’t much to say. I was there for a conference, but didn’t end up actually attending said conference. Turns out the “free” pass I got didn’t actually get me into anything beneficial. Not really the best way to start a trip, but it got me out of the house.
Instead, I got food poisoning my first night there. The third day I drove 5 hours through Vermont to get to the Canadian border only to spend 45 minutes there because everything was in French and I had no way to navigate. Not to mention the warm welcome back to the States I received from the border patrol as they searched my vehicle for a good 15 minutes. Apparently my spontaneous trip to Canada was a bit suspicious to them, even though it’s completely normal for me to drive 5 hours somewhere only to spend a short time at my destination. To top off my already wonderful trip, I got into a fender bender with my rental car on my way to the airport to go home.
You know, now that I think about it, maybe this trip wasn’t entirely as dull as I thought!
Alright, okay, my guilty conscience is forcing me to admit something. I didn’t actually get food poisoning – I’m just being dramatic. It sure felt like I did, though. But the fender bender thing…I’m blaming Boston on that one. They have a seriously skewed idea of how a roundabout should be properly used!
Anyways…as I think back over my trip, I can’t help but think about expectations. Boston has been on my bucket list for years. I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s because I was obsessed with that one song, or maybe I just always liked the way it’s been portrayed in movies. The accents, the scenery, the food…I’ve just been really excited to cross Boston off my list.
Then I finally got there. And it simply failed to measure up.
Don’t get me wrong…the entire trip wasn’t a waste. I met some incredible people along the way (as per usual), and I even got to catch up with a family member I hadn’t seen in years.
But as I sit here, currently putting off managing my freelance projects, laundry, and tending to whatever is starting to grow in my kitchen sink, I can’t help but just ponder that word: expectations.
Have you ever anticipated something so much only for it to totally let you down?
I feel you.
In a way, I suppose, I idolized this whole trip. Before I left, I had the entire week planned out, which, I’m about 99% sure was my first mistake. Usually when I go on trips I like to go in without a game plan. It keeps things interesting and leaves room for serendipitous detours. But, it’s different when you’re flying and you have to use a rental car to get around. I don’t know, I just feel like I needed to be a little more responsible with a car that wasn’t my own. I know, that turned out well for me, huh?
My main goal was for this trip to be relaxing. I was taking an entire week off to travel, it had better be relaxing! On top of that, I was hoping to learn a thing or two. Both about marketing (via the conference) and a little about the East Coast.
I guess maybe goal isn’t the right word to use here. A goal, by definition, is “an object of a person’s ambition.” I certainly wasn’t determined to achieve anything while in Boston.
No, it was more like I had a “strong belief” that those things would just happen. An expectation if you will.
Another word for expectation is assumption. And we all know what happens when you assume, right? Well, I sure found out the hard way.
Like I’ve confessed to you before, I believe the reason I travel is because it makes me feel a closeness to God. I don’t think that’s wrong in itself, but I think I’m skating on thin ice when I begin to think that’s the only time I can feel close to Him.
It’s like, every trip I go on, I subconsciously expect that I’m going to get some revelation from God about my life. And I’ll be the first to tell you – He doesn’t work that way. Sometimes He does, when He knows it’s in our best interest.
But I believe that God wants a relationship with us instead of being at our beck and call. Who knew? And what kind of relationship is successful when only one person is putting forth an effort while the other only wants things at the snap of their fingers? It’s almost like I’ve idolized traveling to the point of saying, “Alright, life is getting hard. Instead of doing my part by reading my Bible and praying more, I’m going to travel and God’s just going show up and tell me what to do.”
Yeah, okay, and unicorns are real. (Sorry, Addie, but they aren’t, girlfriend). That’s just not how this whole Christianity thing works.
Side note #1: I’m speaking mainly to myself here (and I guess my niece, Addie), but if you can relate to this too, then great!
But as I stop and take a look back, I can see that God did, in fact, still show up. Despite my arrogant tendencies, He still met me in Boston.
I met him in Collins, an elderly man who, on my first day in Boston, alerted me that my trunk was open as I was parking to find somewhere to eat. Thank GOD he told me that…everything I had with me was in that trunk. Collins then proceeded to keep me company at lunch.
I learned quite a bit about him during our short encounter. Like how he is Dominican (That’s Dominica not the Dominican Republic – do not get them confused, even though I totally did. He ended up having to show me where Dominica was on a map, because I was oblivious to its existence.) and he came to America as a young man after his brother had moved here. He told me how he spent a good chunk of his life spreading the Gospel around the States. A fellow traveler. We began to have more in common. Collins is also an entrepreneur. He had done odd jobs here and there over the years (and by that I mean he started these different businesses). He had been a videographer and an art restorationist in the past and currently owns his own driving business. I loved that about him. He was a risk taker. He reminded me of me. He even called me an entrepreneur after I told him about my tiny freelancing “business”. Of all the things I’ve considered myself to be over the years, entrepreneur was never one of them. It was kind of nice learning that about myself (oh hey, look! I did learn something on this trip!).
The thing I liked most about Collins, though, was his perspective. He said that in life, there are many different people. There are people who collect cars and others who collect hobbies. But some people collect people.
I love that. It’s so pure and so simple: some people collect people. I don’t have the world’s most outgoing personality, and most of the time, I’m just a very awkward person in general. Like, super awkward. I don’t typically set off on trips to meet people. It just happens. And Collins and I spent a good chunk of our time together reflecting on that phenomenon. We were definitely people who collect people.
Over the years, like I’ve said, I’ve met so many wonderful and interesting people. One of my favorite, and more recent, memories is of a random encounter that happened this time last year when I was on my way to Ohio to meet my boyfriend’s family. My flight got cancelled so I waited around on stand by for the earliest flight out of Kansas City. Talk about a trip that didn’t exactly go according to plan (it even got worse from there, but that’s another blog for another day). I ended up spending well over 5 hours at the airport, and during that time, I found myself at the bar. After the morning that I had, I needed a Bloody Mary. While there, I met an incredible couple passing through on their way to Cancun. From Alaska.
Side note #2: I’ve learned the best way to strike up a conversation in an airport is by simply asking people where they’re going. And I was very intrigued by this couple’s answer. Especially after learning about where they lived. They were my spirit animals.
We ended up having an amazing conversation about world changers and difference makers, and how we all got to where we were at that point in time. They had just planted a church in Alaska and were spreading the Gospel, and I was working in orphan care. They talked about a mentor they had up in Alaska who inspired them to just Do. Kind of that book I was telling you about in my last blog, Love Does, this man was on fire for Jesus and wasn’t afraid to take risks to live a life that portrayed love in action.
We never added each other on Facebook, nor did we swap phone numbers. The only thing I have of them is a book recommendation the wife gave me.
Another memory to cherish. Another example of people collecting people.
After we ate, Collins gave me directions to the beach and we parted ways. That was it. I’ll probably never see him again in my life, and that’s okay. Just like I’ll most likely never see that young couple from the airport again. I think God brings the right people in your life exactly when you need them. He’s funny that way.
Another person God blessed me with during this trip was my cousin. It had been about 7 years since I last saw her, but when we met up, we talked as if we’d grown up together. Must be a family thing. We talked about school, our travels, and life. There may be almost a decade between us in age, but I could see myself in some of her insecurities/fears of the future. Things like where to live, what to do, is she going to find somebody? I’m 28 and I’m still asking myself those same questions! I’m sure there are a lot of us asking those same questions. That’s the beauty of it all – we’re certainly not alone with the things we struggle with. Remember that.
You can try as hard as you can to have things planned out, but why? We’re not even guaranteed tomorrow. More important than your 5-year plan, your 10-year plan, or heck, even your retirement plan…are the things that you choose to live for today. Sure, I still have goals (this time I meant to use that word). I have things I strive for. But I don’t expect them to pan out exactly the way I envision them to. As a Christian, I feel like having a detailed 5-year plan is kind of like saying to God, “Okay, I’ma let you finish, but I had one of the best plans of all time. So, all you need to do is just make sure it happens.”
But what if our “plan” isn’t the best thing for us? Shouldn’t we believe, as Christians, that an all-knowing God might have a little more insight into what a good plan for our lives is? I mean, He does know our beginning as well as our end and every day in between. I literally don’t even know what’s going to happen 20 minutes from now. I might get up from the couch and clean my house or I might go back to sleep. Let alone what tomorrow brings…or even a month or year from now. Isn’t it good news to know that we don’t have to worry about that? We have a Father who cares for us.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[g] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
–Matthew 6:25-34 (emphasis me)
Every time I start to worry about life, about what is going to happen, will I get married? Will I have children? Am I always going to live in Sterling? I rest in these words. Do not be anxious about tomorrow.
I do hope to have a family one day. But even if I don’t, that’s okay. That’s not something that defines me, and certainly not something I expect to happen. And at this point, my residency is wherever God calls me. Right now that’s Sterling, KS.
I do know that this experience has taught me a lot about expectations and how they rarely tend to measure up. I’ve learned to carry that over into my life by treating the people that are close to me better today – by actually letting them know they matter to me. Because I don’t expect them to always be there. I’m just grateful they are right now.
A friend of mine once shared a quote with me from one of his favorite people, Harvey Milk. Harvey once said, “Don’t let people happen to you.” Like the couple in the airport, or Collins in Boston, or my family and friends today…I value the impact that these people have made/continue to make in my life. I pray they know how much they mean to me, and that they didn’t just happen. I collect all of the late night chats, the random encounters, the girl times, the Sonic trips, the movie nights, all of it…I collect in my heart. Exactly where they should be.
So, do me a favor and put your phones down once in a while – I promise you, being in the moment is way better than trying to fabricate one on social media. It’s a lesson I’m still teaching myself, but it’s one so worth learning.
Thank you, Collins, for reminding me how to love people. No matter the amount of time they spend in my life.