Have you ever had a time when something important to you was planned but did not happen?
Maybe you had an idea for a perfect evening with a special friend and it went south. Or perhaps you studied for a test only to find out you were not as prepared as you had thought.
It’s happened to me – a lot.
Take last weekend for example.
Angie and I ventured through the rain, sleet, and snow to Charlotte, North Carolina to attend the first day of the Christian Product Expo – one of the largest Christian book retail shows in the nation.
We have attended this event in the past, and it is always fun.
Under normal circumstances, we can stay longer, but we could only attend the opening day this year.
On Sunday, I was scheduled to sign copies to promote the release of Dugout Devotions II: Inspirational Hits from MLB’s Best, which will launch next month.
I purchased a nice banner and even splurged and bought a few new Sharpie pens for the occasion.
We arrived on Saturday evening and hunted down the location for the book signing, only to discover the entire room was a mess. The person in charge told me that Sunday was the day for the vendors to set up shop, and the exhibit hall was not officially opening until Monday. In other words, no book signing.
But despite the scheduling mix-up, my publisher made arrangements for me to sign books on Sunday after all.
Then Sunday came, but the books did not. It’s difficult to have a book signing when the books do not arrive from the printer.
I forgot to mention that Saturday evening, it took us 1.5 hours to drive 1.6 miles to meet some people for dinner. Yes, I said 90 minutes to travel 1.6 miles. Traffic in Charlotte was worse than in New York City, and the famous nearby speedway wasn’t even open.
And there was also the moment earlier in the day when smoke started rolling out from under the front of our car. We did not have any time for car trouble as we needed to drive through the mountains of West Virginia on Sunday afternoon to head off predictions of ice and snow back home that evening. (Note: The forecast was correct.)
I definitely began to wonder if we really were supposed to have made this trip. But despite the craziness of the weekend, some other things happened to make our time in Charlotte worthwhile.
· Angie and I toured the Billy Graham Library where we learned about the greatest evangelist to walk this earth. This visit had long been on her bucket list, and it was a great experience. If you have never gone there, I highly recommend it.
· We got to have dinner with Lee Weeks and his wife, Dawn. Lee works at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and writes for Decision Magazine. Last month, his biography of Darryl Strawberry was released and is on its way to be a New York Times bestseller.
· I found out that I will be receiving a contract for my first children’s book, and two new books are on the horizon.
· On the elevator, Angie and I ran into one of her favorite Christian comedians, Tim Lovelace, who we later realized was also the speaker at that morning’s worship service. He told me he was an Alabama fan, so I gave him a signed copy of my book, Bama Believer: 40 Days of Devotions for the Roll Tide Faithful.
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: Ecclesiastes 3: 1
While some of the things I went to Charlotte for did not take place, there were so many bright spots.
If you’re dealing with disappointment, I hope the following suggestions will help you get through it:
· Release your frustrations: The 90-minute drive to the restaurant gave me time to take a few breaths. God knew what He was doing. It’s okay to deal with discouragement. Just don’t let it take over. Give it a few minutes, and let it go. I don’t suggest getting into an hour-long traffic jam though.
· Adjust your expectations: You have a purpose, and God will put you in the right place at the right time. Soon after the disappointing news, we made some new friends, and the next day I was offered a verbal contract for a book.
· Get moving: Don’t waste time complaining. When the door opens, go through it and don’t look back. I have used this quote from John Wayne in just about all my books. “Looking back is a bad habit.”
· Dwell on the positive: The book signing never happened. But so many other good things did. There will be other book signings — but the other surprises may have never come along had we not gone. We’re still not sure why our car was smoking, but it led to a pleasant conversation with a helpful security guard from the Billy Graham Library. The car is fine. Turned out to be nothing.
Go with the flow. And I’m confident that great things will happen at the CPE in St. Louis in August.
Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of C.Y.L.E. Agency.