Yep, you read that correctly. Traffic. And those of you who’ve driven with me in the past are probably snickering, thinking I’m being totally sarcastic (as I often am); but, no.. Today God used traffic to teach and bless me.
Check the scenario: I leave with ample time to make it to the Indian consulate in San Francisco for my appointment – the one that I can’t miss because walking my passport into this place is the only way I’ll get it in time. I fly down highway 13, to 24, then merge onto … a parking lot. I kid you not, I literally hit a wall of tail lights framed by cars whizzing by on every surrounding highway but mine. This causes me to miss the appointment, not get my visa, stand in line forever because they changed their immigration policies WHILE I was standing there which caused chaos, and then subsequently to be late to my appointment with the chair of the art therapy dept, pushing our meeting later, which then left me fighting rush hour traffic and having to reroute. *End Scenario*
Now, normally, this experience would have left me totally freaking out, worrying myself into a tizzy, feeling hopeless about getting my visa, angry and irritable, etc. Let’s just say this: just because I don’t roll down my window and wave flamboyantly so the people around me notice, it doesn’t mean I don’t usually have Celtic-esque, passionate road rage when late and sitting in needless traffic…imagine that, then imagine that firey redhead charging, guns blazing, into the consulate, and then trying to pass as a worthy candidate later at the grad school. Not a pretty picture, and I’ll bet she made a lot more trouble for herself than was necessary. But, we’re American, and we’ve all been there…
This is how that scenario really played out: All the things I said before happened, except I did not react “normally”. At first, when I saw the dead sea of cars, I though, “Ohh-ho! Nice try, Satan.. but, the problem here is that I know I am getting my visa because I’m GOING to Nepal…and it might not be today if you want to throw anything else at me, but I’m getting it, so you may just want to go waste your efforts on someone else.” A little rage came up, angry that I can’t EVER just get things done the way they should be done.
But then, I shifted, and quickly. I felt God reminding me, “Um, hi.. a little less focus on the enemy and a little more props My way… you focus way too much on what he’s doing rather than taking time to think that I might be orchestrating something. Just because it’s not the way you’d like it to be, doesn’t mean it’s Satan.” I instantly flipped from rage to praise. I was like, “Well, sweet, God. I guess I’m gonna miss my appointment, but it’ll just be an even more amazing story when I finally get the visa when I shouldn’t have been able to. Could you also throw in a divine appointment or two as well?” I just turned up the music and spent the time sitting still to guess how God was going to pull it off this time.
After singing instead of stressing the entire way to my appointment, I was just about giddy getting out of my car at the consulate. Good thing, too, because the line was insane, and there was only one person working. ONE PERSON! A lady in line kept making comments under her breath and literally freaking out, and I looked at her and realized THAT is what would have been going on in my brain had I not had a divine refocusing. I felt sorry for her, because her comments were not making her any friends (which I got to have a nice little chat with some of the people around me) and she was wasting SOOOO MUCH ENERGY on a battle she would never win. How often do we allow our emotions to steer us into shipwreck? But think about it, how will we get to Treasure Island with a sunken ship? Cheesy, yes…but go with it.
Then something happened that shocked me: They came out from the back room to announce that the Indian immigration policy had literally just changed while we were standing in line. Now, instead of having to pay $130 in money order form to the consulate for native origin visas, the cost was REDUCED to only $30. I thought it was so cool that God had me there when the country was opening it’s arms to it’s people. It’s people, though, were so worked up over the massive line, that they were actually ANGRY! They were just spared $100, and they were complaining because now they had to leave line, go get a new money order for the smaller amount, and come back (and they had a few hours before the consulate closed, plenty of time to run around the corner and still get their business done that day). Um, is $100 not worth an hour?? I know I’d love to make that for my time!
I waited for a little bit because I thought maybe God was just clearing the line so I could go (I realized today how selfish I can be, thinking automatically that this had ANYTHING to do with me), but I became aware of the time and knew I needed to be on my way to my meeting. Luckily, they had laptops set up off to the side, so I hopped on one and made a new appointment for Wed morning. Then, I realized, “Haha yay!” – Had I made my appointment, they would have made me mail the visa back as same-day pick up service was reserved for people who came before 11am. The only way I was walking out of the building with my visa was if I came the next morning, so it was a total blessing in disguise. Sweet.
I was a bit late for my appointment with Dr. Carolan, but luckily for me, artists are not freakish about time and he was forgiving. We had a nice chat, and he was really encouraging/insightful: he not only let me know that I’m not too far off-track if I choose to pursue a master’s in art therapy, but he also gave me another little bit of wisdom for my honors project and offered to be a resource if I get in a bind whilst in Nepal. Very cool.
I left and did not feel the hunger pangs til I hit the interstate, and I did not see the exit I was supposed to take to circle back to Oakland til I hit another wall of traffic downtown SF. The hunger raging, I decided to weather the traffic stopped at a hole in the wall food place in the city rather than starving silently in my car. I swung onto 101, got off just before traffic, and found myself right back at the consulate. The plan was to drive til I saw a sketch-looking restaurant that I felt was A. safe and B. a hidden gem with interesting people to talk to, but then a giant statue caught my eye. It was obviously of Hindu influence, so I rounded the block and circled back. Finding parking at a meter for free (lucky pick) right in front of it, I walked to what I later found out was the United Nations mall…oh, the irony there.
After I shot a few pics, I looked up and saw a building with “TRUTH” written on it in big bold letters, so I figured I’d head that direction in search of a place to eat while waiting for traffic to break. Then I saw it: Orpheus Theatre, home of WICKED! I have wanted to go see that play SO BADLY for years now – I read the book, I overplay the soundtrack, I LOVE theatre. But, I could never afford to go, and everyone always ends up going without me. I saw on the sign that the show was leaving as of Sept, and my sister told me that it was already done in Chicago, so I was like, “Oh, Papa.. can I please go?” I walked up to the ticket window, not even sure they’d me running on a Tuesday night… and lo and behold, not only was there a show in an hour (plenty of time to eat), but there were lottery tickets (cheap!! because they’re obstructed view) unclaimed if I had cash on me.. I NEVER EVER carry cash, but because I had not been able to get my visa, I just happened to have some on me AND it was my own since I had two paychecks from graphic design work hit the bank today… I got a ticket as a group came in line behind me to claim the rest… had I had to run to the atm, they would have taken them all… God is good.
I found a sweet little breakfast place right down the street and hunkered in for the hour, watching people pass from my perch just inside the window. A short stack and tea later, I had to stop myself from seeming too retarded as it hit me that I was ACTUALLY going to get to see Wicked…like, actually 🙂 And all because I saw traffic and wanted to avoid it peacefully rather than attack it angrily. It was like He was taking me on a Daddy daughter date, because though I normally would have been depressed going to a show alone, I didn’t feel alone at all!
The seats were in the THIRD ROW! I could see the whites of the actors’ eyes, but I was far enough back that my neck wasn’t strained.. the perfect seats after the two people next to me left and I scooted out from behind the side stage view obstruction. And, I just happened to be sitting next to a gentleman named John who had also wandered in by chance and is in town for a homeless outreach convention of sorts. I was encouraged by his stories of other people who are changing the world, and I think I really encouraged him, too. He started as the grant-writer for a health clinic in Texas and left after writing a grant for a homeless organization and feeling overwhelmed by the call. He now is an independent consultant in Seattle for people who are wanting to start/need help running non-profits and relief organizations. Go figure God would sit me next to someone like THAT, of all people. And, he was wonderfully respectful and truly appropriate; in fact, we didn’t even exchange contact info or anything. But, I wouldn’t be surprised if I run into someone he’s connected with in the future if I try to start my own organization, because I have NO IDEA how to even go about the grant game..
Walking back to my car, I noticed that the statue was lit with a bit of a haze and the UN building was simply majestic, so I used a light post and a trash can as tripods and snapped some pics before getting safely to my car. As expected, no traffic…smooth sailing all the way back across the bay. As I drove, I reflected on the day I’d just had, and can’t even believe it. Had I tried to plan it my way, I’d have been totally stressed out trying to fight traffic, had to leave SF without a visa and hope the mail didn’t eat my passport, sat in traffic on way back to Oakland, and missed out on God granting me a desire of my heart, dumb as it was, to see Wicked before it ended. He not only covered my needs better than I could have, but He went above and beyond to bless me, as well.
We need to refocus our attention sometimes…it’s not always the enemy or a battle! Learn to rest despite ____ and praise anyhow, because we are MORE than conquerors – we are heirs of a victorious King… aka we’ve already won, Satan can’t make anything a “no” if God has said “yes”, and we have a Daddy who has the means and desire to lavish us with His love. This entry is already too long, or I’d have put in all the countless little blessings He did along the way as well, but I think my point was made 😉 If you’ve made it to the end here, I guess you’re learning the kind of patience I’m talking about lol Thanks for hanging in…I’ll try to shorten them up from here on out; I just get excited to share these experiences…it’s like I’m living in a whole new world, and I’m too amazed to just let these things go unnoticed. Take time out today to find God’s fingerprint among the traffic and the chaos 🙂