The rain came down relentlessly on the highway as I sat in traffic, moved in traffic, stopped in traffic. Stop, move, go, stop...rinse and repeat!
I was on my way to the airport during the early evening hours of rush hour traffic to see a friend off before she moved back to London. The decision to relocate back and all the packing and wrapping up had been quite an emotional one for her these past 6 months. Having worked together as colleagues, we'd gotten to know each other over the years and because I hate changes in general, I was sad to see her go knowing how much she loved her life here in California. Because really, you can't beat Cali weather when your other option is London grey skies. I'm just sayin'....
I made my way through the parking lot and terminals of San Francisco International anticipating I was definitely at the right location, only to find out I wasn't and on top of that had taken the airport shuttle in the opposite direction of where I was supposed to be. Between traffic, the rain, and a sudden mis-step in directional accuracy, alas, I arrived just a tad too late to see her off. I frantically called and found out though she waited for as long as she could, it was just one of those things that couldn't be helped as the long security lines and boarding of a plane back to Europe beckoned her to be on her way.
Ughhh, is an understatement.
It was as if I could hear the gloomy music in the background as I sat on the cold shuttle back to the parking lot, with a birthday/going away present rumpled sadly in a colorful bag I had hoped to surprise my friend with before she left.
As I sat on that shuttle, all that ran through my head was "failure". I had failed to get there on time, failed to give one last hug to someone I knew could use it, failed to bring some cheer for someone that was leaving her California life behind for reasons she couldn't control. And it was right then and there on that slow moving shuttle and later drudging back to my car that I wanted to do what I never like doing in public - cry.
Though I'm still very bummed about how everything played out, I tell this story because in the midst of it, I was reminded of one important thing, one huge aspect that is so hard for me to grasp in negative situations like this.
Like most folks, I hate knowing I came up short, hate knowing that I didn't quite get it, hate knowing I didn't do something quite right. This is tied deeply to much of my own personal struggles with the need to perfectly perform, the difficulty I have accepting that in both minor and major life stuff, grace abounds abundantly on me, covers me lavishly, even if I refuse to see it or believe it.
I sometimes foolishly think that grace has to be earned or I have to at least feel worthy of it, but the truth in my life is that, nope, grace from God is immeasurable and given freely regardless of what I think or feel, even if the situation calls for gloom and missed opportunities. Over and over and over again I need these reminders of grace, even if the reminders come about from situations that involve traffic, rain, and airport farewell plans gone awry.
Do I always like these reminders? Heck no. But like I said, in the end, looking at the big picture, the answer is always seems to remain the same - I still need them.
And the birthday present? *sigh* Well, there's always good ol' U.S. mail, right?