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Y’all, sometimes life will hit us up side the head – or flat knock us on our back. But, those missteps or tragedies are not where the story has to end.
The real determination for the trajectory of our life is not what happens to us, but how we respond to it.
I was reminded of this truth through an unexpected conversation in the middle of a frustrating circumstance. My surprise companion was someone who had slugged through horrendous situations, but chose hope and proactivity rather than bitterness and apathy.
The conversation happened, in true God-fashion, while I was waiting for a delayed plane (God so often brings the best things when I’m stuck in the most inconvenient situations).
I was in a rather dinky airport, trying to get home, when the crew announced that our flight was delayed indeterminately.
Delay or Divinity
The gentleman sitting beside me ambled up to check on his next flight. As he was walking back, he commented about how good God is because he was still going to make the second leg of his journey.
Readers, I talk about God anyway because that’s who I am – He’s just the biggest part of my life. But if someone actually mentions God or their faith? Oh, it’s game on now.
So, the door had been opened for conversation, and since our flight was delayed, we had nowhere else to be.
I learned that he was a retired and disabled veteran who had served 30 years in the military, including combat time in Desert Shield and Storm.
Coming out of combat, he dealt with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Fear and insomnia were constant companions.
Take Back Your Mind
But, he didn’t allow that to be his defining experience. Instead, he shared how he sought help and took control of his mind, fighting to bring it back to focus on the Lord and a positive future.
He told me that he still regularly wakes up at 3 a.m., but now, he said with a wink, “That’s just the Lord getting me up for a conversation!”
This powerful man didn’t stop with wrestling his own demons. He also helped found an institute that gives career training to those looking for a ‘second chance.’
It doesn’t serve only veterans, but is definitely geared towards helping those soldiers forge a new path stateside.
The Life or Death Difference
This was in stark contrast to the reason that he was at the airport. He was attending the funeral of his cousin, another combat veteran.
His cousin had not confronted his demons, but rather, avoided them through unhealthy means. He had died by his own hand. The cousin was even younger than the man I was talking to.
What a real-life example that our wellbeing is not determined by the circumstances that we endure in life. It’s our response to those circumstances that makes the difference – in this family’s case, literally the difference between life and death.
A New Perspective
In my case that day, what started as a frustrating delay turned into a divine encounter that left me with a new perspective.
And bonus, I was able to encourage him as well! A few days later, I received an email that a comment I made resonated with him and as he wrote, “really got down deep inside…I will never forget that.”
What I will never forget is his attitude and his concluding statement. This is a line that I am taking for myself, and welcome you to do the same!
“God has brought me a long way and He’s not done with me yet.” – the airport angelTweet