By: Brad Layland, CEO and Senior Consultant
What was meant to be the vacation of a lifetime, now seemed nearly impossible. We had booked a cruise in the Mediterranean, and I had invited my parents to join us. Rather than flying together, we had decided to meet at the airport in Venice. However, when we met my parents at the airport, my father was in a wheelchair. Apparently, that morning he had suddenly lost his ability to stand or put pressure on his leg. Since it happened almost literally on the way to the airport, they didn’t know what to do about the trip. The bottom line was, here was my mom in Venice, pulling the bags behind her, with my father in a wheelchair.
If you have ever been to Venice or seen pictures of the city, you know that the city is full of amazing bridges. These bridges are not accessible by vehicle. Getting from the airport to the cruise ship on foot was especially hard because we had to leave behind the wheelchair from the airport. Thankfully, my son is incredibly strong, and he (as a fifteen-year-old!) was able to carry my father and get him on board the ship, where we then borrowed another wheelchair. Being on the ship was fine, and my dad was able to participate in the vacation and even leave the ship at times.
As the week went on, though, I began to get very stressed about the upcoming impossible day. The end of the cruise loomed large in my mind. On the last day, all eight of us would have to navigate from the cruise ship in Venice to a hotel in Paris. The day had sounded stressful prior to my dad being in a wheelchair, but it seemed impossible now. We were going to have to get off the boat, traverse Venice on foot over ten bridges, find a taxi, take the taxi to the airport where we could rent a car, get on the plane to Paris, take a shuttle bus to a rental car agency in Paris, drive through Paris to get to the hotel, and then get to our hotel room. Making it from one end of the day to the other with my father not having access to a wheelchair seemed impossible. There was no way to control any of the variables – we were going to have to muddle our way through.
There was more at stake here than a missed flight or connection. The pressure had started to build, and I was so anxious that I was afraid of losing my composure and yelling at my kids, wife or my parents. I had wanted this vacation to be special – not to become the topic for years and years of counseling! I should also mention that my stepfather, who I have been referring to in this story as my father, did not have a personal relationship with Christ, and for 25 years I had been praying that he would have the opportunity to meet Jesus.
It was a tough day, but my son, wife, mom and my other children all worked hard, and together we made it. That night, having safely made it to Paris, I was incredibly grateful for the way that it worked out. In some ways it reminds me of the constant uncertainty of the pandemic – we have been looking out at a future that seems impossible, and if you are anything like me, you have been wondering if we are going to make it through.
It turned out that my father was unable to put pressure on his leg because he had stage four cancer. Shortly after the cruise, he and my mom moved to St. Augustine to be closer to us. My prayers of 25 years were answered when my father committed his life to Christ before passing away a year or so later. If I had lost my composure that day, would my dad and mom still have felt welcomed to move to St. Augustine? I often wonder.
At times during this year and last, it feels like we are being asked to do the impossible. As you continue to navigate towards what is hopefully the end of the pandemic, my prayer is that you can keep moving forward, one step at a time, fully aware of the fact that there is more going on than you realize. Your job is not to control all the variables – it is simply to take the next step!