Waiting in the Chinese Train Station
The memory of last year’s sleeper bus incident was still painfully seared in our minds. We were NOT going to miss the train this year. We arrived at the station 45 minutes early, only to discover that the train was delayed by an hour. Then another hour. Then another hour. For four hours we stood in the overcrowded Chinese station. It appeared that while we had missed the train last year, this year the train was missing us. It turned out to be another of our trip’s many “hurry up and wait” situations.
Under these circumstances, it’s tempting to become impatient, angry, or even desperate. With every delay comes seemingly less control and less confidence that the intended destination will be reached. My overachieving perfectionism is brutally assaulted by the possibility that I might not accomplish my goal of going from Point A to Point B as quickly and efficiently as possible. It is precisely these trying moments that have challenged my destination-oriented mentality. In His mercy, God uses these moments to show me the joy and significance of the present journey, so easily missed by eyes fixed on the horizon for the future destination. He also reminds me that any control I think I have is a merely an illusion, and that He is the only one with power over our lives.
In that train station, though we weren’t making any spatial progress, we had many good conversations with each other and with locals sharing our same uncertain fate. We played games, ate food, and had a good time. And in the end, we boarded the train and made it to our destination city all the same. Being stuck in the train station for a few extra hours wasn’t necessarily holding us back from our goal – it may have been precisely where we were supposed to be in that moment!
There’s great joy and freedom to be found in the journey-oriented mentality, especially for otherwise goal-oriented people such as myself. My Dad has been saying for years, “It’s about the process, not the product.” The journey-oriented mentality is a belief that the present moment and condition IS the destination – exactly where God wants you to be in that moment.