There’s a pithy little saying I have often heard when plans people have made go awry: “We plan. Shit happens. And God smiles.” I have never really liked this saying because I felt like it painted God in a somewhat cynical light. What I heard people saying when they said this was that God found joy in our disappointments. What I realize after spending the last three days traveling with my husband is that God smiles when plans change not because He finds joy in our disappointments, but because He delights in our ability to roll with whatever comes our way.
We have been planning a three-day excursion to celebrate my husband’s birthday since the beginning of the summer. It was going to be our first trip away overnight with my husband’s Harley. This being the case, and both of us being fair-weather riders, we kept a close eye on the weather forecast – especially as the days of our trip drew near. Unfortunately, as we headed into last weekend, many storms were predicted – some possible and others labeled as threatening. On Saturday evening, my husband looked at me with a face filled with disappointment and said, “We’re not taking the bike.” Because I knew this had been what he wanted to do for his birthday, I was heartbroken for him. But, I was also relieved to know I would spend the next few days dry and safe from lightning in the comfort of a car.
So, we took some time to discuss what we were going to do instead of what we had planned. You see, our destination was the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon and enjoying outdoor activities, so rain and thunderstorms were not going to help with any of that. We kept our reservations at the hotel in Mansfield, but decided that on Monday, instead of touring the canyon, we would drive up to Cooperstown, NY to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame. Neither of us had ever been there, and if it was going to be raining, it wouldn’t matter that we were spending more time in the car.
When we left on Sunday, it was pouring. Several times as we drove along, one of us would mutter, “Geez, glad we didn’t take the bike,” or “This would have totally sucked if we were on the bike.” As we got closer to our hotel, the sky became lighter and the rain became much less until it eventually stopped. We were still really glad we hadn’t been on the bike.
Our drive to the Baseball Hall of Fame the next day was quite a different story.
It was a GORGEOUS day. The weatherman had predicted an 80% chance of rain and/or thunderstorms throughout the day for that area, and not a drop fell. We were treated with views of nature that were absolutely stunning and would have been glorious to experience on the Harley. The mutters from the previous day’s drive did a 180 degree turn to, “Damn, we should’ve rode the bike!” And, that’s when God really started smiling. Our mutters about the bike became a wonderful joke between my husband and me. The first time he said it, expressing his disappointment of not having the bike, my heart sank. But after that, he put a somewhat sarcastic spin to it (he is really good at sarcasm) and it became, at times, hilarious. We joked on and off about it for the entire ride to Cooperstown. Depending on the condition of the road we were on, it would change from “wish we had the bike” to “these roads suck, I’m glad we don’t have the bike.” The smiles and laughs that we had from our plans changing were not something either of us could have experienced many years ago. With God’s help, we have both come a long way as individuals and as a couple, and I am eternally grateful for that.
We ended up having a lovely visit at the Baseball Hall of Fame, drove back to Wellsboro for dinner at their famous diner, and spent the evening watching the homerun derby as the thunderstorms finally rolled in over our hotel. For my husband, that’s a pretty great birthday. He loves baseball and hot roast beef sandwiches, which the Wellsboro Diner is famous for. So, his first visit to the Hall of Fame, seeing his new favorite player in the homerun derby, and the Wellsboro Diner did not disappoint. Sure, being on the Harley would have made it a perfect day for him, but when is anything ever really perfect?!
Yesterday morning, as we drove home in a constant downpour, the quips about our gratitude for bringing the car instead of the bike continued. In rolling with the change in plans and the unpredictability of the weather, we found our way to a joke that will last a lifetime. I’m guessing that one day, when we are an old married couple unable to ride the Harley anymore, it’s going to be raining like cats and dogs and my husband is going to look at me and say sarcastically, “I’m so glad we can’t ride the Harley anymore, because today would really suck.”
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