Last week Larry and I flew to Virginia for a conference with some of the staff and volunteers of Gracewood, a ministry that rescues single moms and their children across the Greater Houston area by providing home, hope and healing. Larry has been on the board of Gracewood for several years now. On the way to the airport, we decided to park at one of the lots by the airport and thus began our adventure. The shuttle arrived to pick us up and I carefully and slowly climbed the steps to go to a seat. I’m not sure graceful was ever a word to describe me in the past, but it’s definitely not one of the first to come to mind these days. Climbing steps of different heights can be a challenge at times.
Even though we took my walker, I used the wheelchair once we were at the airport for speed and to save on energy. The attendants that pushed the chair were so kind and helpful and knew exactly where we needed to go. That was especially nice when going through security and when we arrived at the unfamiliar Dulles Airport.
Once we arrived at Dulles, my comfort zone diminished a little since we relied on the hotel shuttle service for transportation. Now there were several opportunities to practice getting in and out of the different shuttle vans while people were waiting to go. Larry was so patient and helpful, especially when he would have to help pick up a foot when it was such a high step to get into the bus.
The conference was held at the hotel where we were staying. We had the evenings free and went into Reston each night with the group to eat and visit. Knowing we would be walking quite a distance once the shuttle dropped us off and needing to walk at a fast pace, Larry recommended that I use the hotel’s wheelchair. I knew it would be best, but I still took a big breath before I said that would be OK. Pride could have said we would just stay at the hotel and eat, (Larry had already befriended the chef), but we would have missed out on great times of fellowship. I was not fast, but by the third day I was getting on and off the shuttle bus a little easier. Then one night our mode of transportation back to the hotel was a large, tall van. That was one more challenge to conquer since there were no safety bars to help me pull myself in and the driver decided the front seat would be the best place for me to ride. As my 3 year old great-nephew Eli would say, Larry and I needed to “Engineer a better solution” to help get me in. And we did!
By Saturday, I was more comfortable getting up and down the steps. And just at the right time! When we arrived at our gate to fly home we found out that we had to walk out onto the tarmac and up the stairs to get into the plane. Because of the practice all week, what could have been a difficult situation was accomplished with confidence and a smile that they didn’t have to lower a ramp for me to get on the plane.
Being willing to branch out of my comfort zone brought gifts of fellowship, strength in doing what was difficult, and a reminder that even more important than being graceful is to be grace filled. Those gifts, and so much more, are also waiting for me when I am willing to branch out of my comfort zone for Jesus’ sake.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:19