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You never know how something will turn out so withhold judgment until the end.

A couple weeks ago I traveled to Oklahoma City to work with a family who\’s teen had just come home from a treatment program.  The final day went by too quickly and I ended up staying longer than I had planned at the family\’s home.  Because I was in a hurry, Murphy\’s law kicked in and I ended up missing an exit then needed to get directions to find the road back to the airport. The end result was that I was too late for my bags to be checked.  Tired and ready to be home, I imagined myself having to find a hotel and spend the night and catch a plane in the morning.

Before giving up I got in line to speak to a ticket agent and check to see if there were other flights leaving that would get me home, no matter how late.  I would be helped by one of two people.  One looked professional and friendly, the other, well let\’s just say that I\’ve seen government employees with more enthusiasm for their work.  Undoubtedly she had been on the job all day dealing with people like me who, because of poor planning on their part had missed their plane and wanted her to magically make everything all better.  Murphy\’s law…I got her.

Instead of getting the non-verbal eye roll expressing \”Here we go again,\”  I was shocked when she cheerfully replied, \”Let me see what I can do\”.   There was no smile, but the tone of her voice gave me a glimmer of hope.  Reading her would take extra focus on the micro expressions of her facial muscles. I locked on to her eyes as they darted back and forth across her computer monitor.  Periodically she would scrunch her eye brows, then the corner of her mouth would turn down.  Hope would fade.  Then one eye brow would lift, then the other as she plunked away at the key board.  With each micro express my own mood would slightly change.  With a raise of her eye brows I didn\’t know whether to feel more hopeful or to worry that she had found something flawed in my record and would need to contact security.  After about 5 minutes she said, \”Do you want a direct flight?\”  \”I\’d sure prefer that if it\’s possible\” I said.  She worked a little longer, then the baggage sticker for my luggage printed.  I was on!  As far as I could tell, I hadn’t even been charged for the change.

Once on the plane I gratefully took my middle seat on the exit row.  I\’d never been happier for a middle seat.  Looking at my ticket I saw something new, \”Silver Medallion\”.  I had reached a place of status for all of the flying I had done.  While it felt kind of nice, I wasn\’t sure that I would see any perks.  Weren\’t they reserved to Gold or Platinum Medallion?

A young man approach, asked if I had a ticket for the seat I was in while holding his own ticket so I could read it.  Retrieving mine from my front shirt pocket I showed him.  We had been assigned the same seat.  Explaining that he had been on standby for 4 hours trying to catch a plane, he took the seat next to me on the isle.  Gratitude to be on the flight overshadowed any annoyance over seat assignment conflicts and we both expressed willingness to sit anywhere in order to make it home that night.  Our common emotions made us instant friends.

Within a few minutes a guy with the ticket for the isle seat came.  My new friend had to leave.  I told him \”Hey I\’m happy to sit anywhere in the plane.  If you need me to move, just let me know\”  He smiled and started working his way toward the front going against the flow of passengers coming up the aisle.  Later, just before the door was closed, I saw my new friend coming back my direction.  He pointed for me to come to the front.  The steward was also motioning for me to come to the front while mouthing the words \”3C\”.  All my flying had paid off and I was being moved to First Class.  The flight home was the most comfortable one I had had in years and I actually got home 90 minutes before my original flight arrived.

Often times, we say or think things like \”I\’m having a bad day\”, \”I\’m a failure\” or \”This isn\’t going to work out well\”.  In that snap-shot moment our situation may look bleak.  We may feel that we have missed our chance at something and it can only be down hill from here.  But if we are patient, and keep trying, never giving up, allowing time to weigh in, we see obvious progress.

I\’ve never met anyone, successful or not,  who has planned out their life and it has unfolded accordingly.  Yet, I\’ve met many who, in later years look back and see that their life took important turns to have them arrive in a better place. Our outcomes may not have been predicted, but is often far better than what we first imagined.  My belief is that there is a greater, grander, plan.  The day to day hassles and challenges are shaping agents.  Those aren\’t the ends of the plan, they are the means.  We have divine support along the way and we have been blessed

In your homes, in your business, in your bank account, and in your personal life making a definitive conclusion based on isolated circumstances is natural.  It is NOT helpful or even truthful however.   Ask any parent who raised a struggling teen and they will tell you that there was definite growth and a-ha’s from fighting their way through days that they originally thought would destroy their family and their teen.  Sometimes the mishaps in our life can turn out to be better motivators or shapers than we would have customized for ourselves.  Withhold judgment, because your missed flight might turn out to be a beautiful ride yet!

To Family Success and Happiness!

Tim Thayne, Ph.D


Homeward Bound

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