Do you ever do something spontaneous and exciting? This week I made a last-minute decision to sign up for a workshop in Nashville. It’s the kind of workshop that could help me clarify the way I talk about my message now and for the future work I do. I would get to confer with business leaders and expert storytellers to help me make the most of what I am offering. I’ve been hungry for something like this for months and this was finally the right thing at the perfect time.
A couple of days ago I took off on a 3 1/2 hour ride to Denver so I could fly out the next morning. After a restless night sleep, I was up and on the shuttle by 4 a.m., ready to embark on my little adventure. That’s when I took this picture to send my kids.
I feel bad for the unsuspecting girl in this picture. She has no idea that she’s about to be really disappointed. A few seconds later I checked my email and saw this headline: Emergency Cancellation. Sure enough, the workshop team had to cancel our gathering due to a family emergency.
When you get news like that at 4:00 in the morning it feels a bit like waking up from a dream. Surreal. Disappointing. This wasn’t ever real, anyway.
I took my zombie self to the ticket counter and cancelled my flight. An hour later I heaved my bag up the stairs of the shuttle, lowered into the chair and finally spilled the tears pooling in my eyes since I got the news. There’s nothing like a vacant bus, driving away from the airport under the early morning stars, to usher in a moment of grief. Back at the hotel I wiped the tears, thanked the gruff bus driver and headed home.
There came a point, post-tears, where I knew I had a decision to make. Will I choose to love in this or not? Writing is good for me, if for no other reason than that I think about you in moments like this. Will I live what I say I believe or will I give into the temptation to cover, hide and blame? I handled it differently this time than I would have a few years ago. Perhaps you recognize these things in yourself.
- I let myself cry. I didn’t deny the fact that I was disappointed. I didn’t throw my tears onto any unsuspecting person around me, but I was honest with myself and God. I cried my little heart out on the way back to the hotel and then released myself from over thinking my sadness after that.
- I own my decision. It’s tempting to say all kinds of disowning comments when things don’t go as planned. I could say “it wasn’t meant to be” or “maybe something bad would have happened if I would have gone.” But there is no way of knowing what could have happened had I gone, because I didn’t go. I could say, “I must have been wrong about this opportunity, since it didn’t work out,” but I don’t believe that. I own my desire and pursuit of this little dream, whether I get another chance to go or not.
- I am not defensive. I had to explain why I felt the workshop was a good idea when my husband and I were deciding whether not I should go. Ultimately, he was very supportive and we made the decision together. (We make all decisions like this together.) However, years ago I would have felt like a fool for proposing such a thing and then being “wrong” because it didn’t go as planned. And when I feel like a fool, I act defensive. I would have walked into our home with a chip on my shoulder even before seeing him. But I didn’t this time.
This time was different. This time I let myself cry, I owned my decision and I didn’t get defensive. And you know what? I am still a little sad about the whole thing. But I am not carrying around additional pain from holding back tears, forsaking my decision and acting defensive whenever I talk about it.
This time, I choose love.
Which of these three choices is the hardest for you to make when you feel disappointed? Why? (They’re all hard for me!)
Answer in the comments below or on the Facebook post.