August 07, 2011

When Plans don't go as planned...

Several months ago, Kern and I had planned to enjoy a weekend in the mountains at Wintergreen, Virginia with my cousins Carolyn and David.  As multiple heat waves have passed through Washington this summer, I was getting more and more excited at the idea of wearing a long sleeved shirt in the evenings and relaxing in the shade on a hiking trail.  We took time off work on Friday and set out with hopes to beat the rush hour/weekend traffic traveling south.  As some people may know, Patty, my 1999 Honda Accord, has been battling terminal transmission problems.  But she's been fine.  I mean really...a Honda can go to 200K miles, right?  A few miles (35 to be exact) outside of Washington, on Lee Highway, Patty breathed her last breath...and...we were barely able to roll to the shoulder of the road.

As we waited (over 2 hours) for a tow truck to take us back into the city, I whipped out my paper and pen and did the only thing I knew to do that would keep me from crying--write.  As I sat there, I had plenty of time to ponder my situation and actually began to see the blessings in the events of the day.  Although our vacation was cancelled, my car was kapootz and it felt like we had wasted a vacation day, I had the distinct sense that God was involved and in charge in every aspect.

In reality, we all make plans that get changed through no direct power of our own.  It's not always a situation as radical as having your car's transmission fail on the highway, but it's often smaller scenarios that frustrate us just as much.  The way we practice handling the small situations determines how we will cope when something major goes awry.  

I'd like to share with you a few pointers on how to handle a situation that does not go as you planned.

1.  Don't panic.  Kern repeats these two words to me multiple times per week in situations ranging from cooking to painting citing that, "It never improves the situation."  I did not realize how dire the car situation was initially because Kern remained so calm as the transmission failed.  He changed the car into third gear and carefully guided us onto the shoulder.

2. Be thankful.  Initially I was so upset about my car that I did not take time to sit back and thank God for the obvious blessings that were in front of me!  For starters: no one was hurt, Kern was driving (not me), we were only going about 50mph when the car failed (not 70 or 80), and two very kind Virginia State Troopers stopped to help us.

Kern and his new Trooper buddy discussed everything from guns to football while I moped and took pictures of Patty.
 3. Recognize that God's plans are not always our plans. When I called Carolyn to tell her we would be unable to make the weekend trip, I was so sad.  However, I knew that it was the right (and obvious) decision and I had to accept that this was the reality.  Consider this excerpt from Jesus Calling:

"Understanding will never bring you Peace.  That's why I have instructed you to trust in Me, not in your understanding.  Human beings have a voracious appetite for trying to figure things out, in order to gain a sense of mastery over their lives.  But the world presents you with an endless series of problems.  As soon as you master one set, another pops up to challenge you.  The relief you had anticipated is short lived.  Soon your mind is searching for understanding (mastery) instead of seeking Me (your Master).

My peace is not an elusive goal, hidden at the center of some complicated maze.  Actually you are always enveloped in Peace, which is inherent in My Presence."

If I had my way, Patty would last another 5 years!
 4. Plan.  Don't let your emotions overwhelm you.  We called a tow truck.  We called Kern's dad for advice.  I called ahead to my service station in DC because I knew they would close before we got back into the city.  I made preparations for Patty to be housed overnight.

5.  Try to laugh.  We broke down next to Ted's Tack Shack.  Perfect--a place that sells saddles.  All I needed was a horse to get me back to DC!

Ted's: I didn't see any horses, but I'm sure they had lovely saddles!
6.  Recognize that is OK to be sad.  I felt silly for being so sad, but then I realized that I have driven Patty since high school and she has given me many wonderful memories.  Not to mention the thought of walking and taking the metro everywhere the heat and enough to make any gal sad!

The story has an interesting ending.  I got a call the next morning from my mechanic.  He told me that the transmission (and one or two other things) were gone on the car and I could expect the repairs to cost about $3,200.  He then offered to buy Patty.  He said that his son was going to college and that it would not be as expensive for him to fix it (minus the cost of labor from that $3,200).  Kern and I walked to the service station with my car title and after a few minutes of haggling (you'll have to ask Kern how this went) we agreed upon a price.  I cleaned my remaining belongings out of Patty and said goodbye.

There are currently no plans to replace Patty.  That's why I have two good feet and a bike!

Proverbs 16:9 "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."

1 comment:

  1. Soo sad to see Patty go! But I love this post! It is exactly why I love YOU so much!


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