Grace Notes, by Nancy Kennedy
When it comes to traveling, my oldest daughter thinks she’s cursed.
I don’t know about “cursed,” but she definitely has had her share of mishaps.
Last summer she and granddaughter Caroline took a trip from their home in Virginia to visit my other daughter in Charlotte, N.C.
The three of them went to Charleston, S.C. and Caroline barfed, which put a damper on their plans. Then Caroline stayed sick, ending Alison’s plans for a side trip to visit a friend on the way home.
This past Christmas Day Alison and Caroline tried another trip to Charlotte only to get a flat tire in their rental car 25 miles from home — and rental car agencies aren’t open on Christmas Day, so Alison had to change the tire and go home.
Despite Alison’s declaration that they were NEVER EVER going anywhere EVER again, they got another rental vehicle the next day — a giant turquoise Chevy pick-up truck (Alison is so not a pick-up truck kind of girl).
This time they made it.
Most recently, my Army son-in-law returned from a year in Afghanistan, but instead of going to Virginia where Alison is, he had to go to Texas where he’s now stationed.
So, Alison made plans for her and Caroline to fly to Texas for Memorial Day weekend. However, because the Army is infamous for making last-minute changes, Alison’s husband wasn’t going to arrive as planned. Then he was. Then he wasn’t.
Alison canceled all her travel reservations and her husband arrived in Texas after all — the only one in his unit without family to greet him.
Cue the guilt trippy “I’m a cursed traveler” blues music.
Alison said, “I quit. I’m staying home. It’s time for me to accept, once and for all, that life will never go as hoped and planned.”
She said her life is like the episode of “SpongeBob SquarePants” where SpongeBob breaks his butt while sand sledding and decides he’s better off staying indoors with his safe friends: a used napkin, a penny and a potato chip.
It turned out that, for SpongeBob, staying indoors with his safe friends was a good thing. According to his doctor he was a “lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky boy.” Even though it took 20 hours to glue, tape and staple his butt back together, if he had had another similar accident he might’ve ended up in an Iron Butt machine.
So, as my daughter concluded, if not going anywhere was the best thing for SpongeBob, it’s the best thing for her as well.
I can see her point. If you never go anywhere, or never make plans to do so, you’ll never have your plans interrupted.
Her reluctance to go anywhere is similar to my reluctance to move forward in my faith, whatever that even means.
I’m always reading and hearing about people who are experiencing great faith-filled things, people who are daring to trust God to answer their prayers, who actually expect God to meet their needs and the needs of others through them. People who believe God can — and will — change the hearts of people, even change the course of the future.
When I hear these stories I think, “That’s so cool,” but it’s not for me. When it comes to trusting God, I’m more like SpongeBob, opting to stay indoors with my version of a used napkin, penny and potato chip for friends.
However, playing it safe is like eating tasteless mush, drinking lukewarm tap water, wearing nothing but drab beige.
I know Jesus calls his followers to risk everything, to climb, to soar. To trust.
I know that, and I’ve done that before and know the thrill of being a part of God doing awesome things.
But it’s been a while.
Staying safe has its advantages, but “safe” is more existing than living, and we were created to live in partnership with our Creator.
When it comes to traveling, it would be a shame for my daughter to give up altogether.
There’s so much to do and see, so much to experience. Yes, traveling requires risk, but risks that come with great reward — like stories to tell.
If she never risked, if she never went anywhere, if she stayed put, she would miss out on so much.
I should take my own advice.