I’ve heard jokes lately about people who still have AOL accounts. At first I laughed along with any others who might have heard them. After I heard a couple more, I really didn’t find them all that funny.
I am one of those people who still has and loves my AOL account. I was among the first to sign up with AOL. I receive perks as one who has been loyal to the brand.
In many ways it has. I still have unlimited storage space. There are programs that I rely on that come with my AOL account at no extra charge. They have, and still do, serve me well.
I secured a gmail account with the same lead in as my AOL and I have any emails that come to that account forwarded to my AOL. There are some things I can do and receive that I do not get with my AOL. The additional gmail costs me nothing, so it seemed to be the best of both worlds. I am not stuck in a rut refusing to change. I just do not see the need to completely throw out the baby with the bath water. If something still works, continue to use it. If something new comes along and can enhance what you are already using, why not use it, too.
What does this have to do with our present journey? It is about the anticipation and the expectations of our group and this journey. And, really, it not so much the whole group, although I think it can easily be attributed to them. It really is about my own anticipation and expectations.
We gathered at the airport to begin the trek over the pond. The most economical and what we thought would be a worry-free path to take was set in motion. I loved seeing eager and ready members of our team excited about going, Everyone was working together to get our group painlessly through the hoops we jump through in order to board the airplane.
As it does so often the cracks begin to show in our band of unity. One group wants to do this, while another wants to do this. Folks are asked to take on some unexpected leadership roles, but then gets somewhat chastised when they take on a little to much leadership they were not specifically asked to do.
Roles that were defined and shared with the group are on the surface accepted without questions as long as it did not impede on someone’s own personal preference of what they wanted to do for themselves.
My anticipation of a great, united, joyful team headed out to accomplish great things together took about 25 minutes to begin to melt away. Calm and supportive team members welcome the drama of self-indulgence without batting an eye.
I am increasingly disappointed in our world, especially those who call ourselves Christians, with what I think should come with a set of standards to uphold, mostly “love your neighbors, all your neighbors, as yourself.”
I cannot control the actions of others. I can influence, but not control. However, I can control my own. This is where I think I am headed with this addition to the journal.
Let me give you some influencer before I share my final thought.
There was some struggle getting out flight pattern arranged. It took some work to get it finalized to where we thought some potential problems were to be averted. We all arrived on time. The staff at the airport were helpful, cheerful and quick good at their jobs. Our lack of listening and following directions set in motion some minor issues, but the were easily handled and we were ready to go.
First leg of the journey was completed exactly as planned. This was the portion in the planning that was the hardest to accomplish. Some of us thought since it went off without a hitch, we were smooth sailing the rest of the way. Wrong. Our 4 hour layover before board plan number 2 turned into a 5.5 hour layover, delay in our plane’s boarding, take-off, and arriving at the next destination in order to be ready for the final leg of our journey. We ended up arriving just in the nick of time to board our 3rd plane. Our luggage, however, did not. When we arrived at Tel Aviv we found no luggage. We went to the Lost and Found counter, staffed with 4 workers and asked what we were supposed to do. Two hours later, and after much confusion and frustration, we were told our luggage should be arriving later tonight an they would bring it to our hotel by tomorrow morning. I’ll believe that when I see it. Anticipation and expectations where completely off the mark.
I have always been horrible at learning names. I used to have a couple of my camp counselors that could remember the names of 65 new campers by the time we finished registration. How often did I wish I could do that. My anticipation of going on a VIM experience with a group of unknown persons caused me some moments of anxiety. I set a goal of wanting to visit with each members during our trek to Tel Aviv in hopes that I could find some triggers that would help me put names and faces together. I really do not want to spend my time with people with whom I could not call them by name. That just seems wrong.
What I found was trying to strike up a conversation and have a little interaction was not all that easy. It seems some were hesitant spend time with me. Not that it completely surprised me; but, I was anticipating and expecting a bit more than I got. I still found ways to get most of their names and faces put together before landing in Tel Aviv. It was just not the way I thought it would be.
On the other hand, a young lady sat down beside a couple of us as we were waiting to see what was going to happen with our flight from Chicago to Munich. She was all alone. She has family in Zurick. She works for a firm in the USA and was heading home to see her family and have a vacation. At first I did not want to press her, but she was open and willing to share her story and I love hearing people’s stories. We started joking around and spend pretty much the rest of our wait having a great time. We wished her well and she thanked me for making those few hours go by in such a nice. It think it is important for us to hear this. Not all anticipations and expectations are ended in a negative fashion. In this case, it was a much needed and welcomed surprise.
Our fearless leader has a Beatitude, “Blessed are the flexible for they shall never be bent out of shape.”
I think if I am to make the most of this experience I need to hold fast to that Beatitude. I need to remind myself to do what is asked of me joyfully and not do the things that is not asked of me. If someone asks me a question, the answer should always be, “you might want to check that out with our group leader.” Some of the hospitality things I think are nice touches, may not fit with the overall plan. I do not need to say every thought in my head and wait until I have a group of my own to offer such suggestions.
On the other side of that coin, I should not feel like I’m letting anyone down if I decide not to buy into other people’s drama. If they do not want my help, I am happy to let them be on their own. That does not mean I will let them bring down one who I encouraged to come.
I think we all fall into those traps. Instead of letting God lead us in a path of joyful love and service, we keep trying to take the reigns with our own unrealistic anticipation and expectations. God’s got this. I lift a prayer of thanksgiving that we all made it safely to Tel Aviv. I thank God our guide was there ready to encourage us. Our dinner was waiting and was amazing. We were gifted with unexpected joys with some of people we met along with way and sat next to in airports and on airplanes. I thank God for those reminders to stop and listen and follow. Amen.