I haven’t been on an airplane in a year. More specifically, I haven’t been on a plane in about one year, 1 day, 14 hours. Even more specifically, I walked off the last flight I took when it landed back in Nashville on Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 7:07 pm.
Leading up to that moment, I spent much of the previous 7 and a half years living on planes and busses, in hotels and airports. Did I have some amazing experiences? Yes. Do I have incredible memories and stories? Yes. Did that lifestyle make it terribly difficult for me to have much consistency in my life? Yes.
Looking back, the irony of the moment I stepped off that last flight stands in stark contrast with what would happen only weeks later. Interestingly enough, I had been on a calculated pursuit to achieve Platinum frequent flyer status on American Airlines that year. Finally, with my crazy travel schedule, strategic planning, bonus miles and program challenges, I hit Platinum status with that last flight… and I thought it actually meant something.
As I exited the plane that night, there I was… feeling accomplished and proud. Now, among all the other things I had attached to my identity, I was “Platinum”.
I had no idea that after spending years flying the friendly skies, I was about to be grounded.
To further clutter the mix, thrown in with all my work travel over the years, I’ve also lived in 11 places over the past 9 years. Taking all that into consideration, it just recently dawned on me that for the first time in perhaps 10 years, I have something I’ve long wanted: home.
This is literally the first time in 10 years that I have spent a year living in one place, not on the road, having a home church where I’m involved, having a close community of friends I’m investing in, a close community of friends regularly investing in my life, and feeling like I have a steady place to call home… all at the same time. Is everything perfect right now? No, but it’s consistent.
For the first time in a very long time, my heart feels something I don’t know when it last felt… Established… Rooted… Grounded.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:14-19
This has been a most painful, yet the most necessary, process and year for me. Yet I have no losses to count. I have no regrets to maintain. In fact, all I can find is gratitude.
“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” – 1 Peter 5:10 (NIV)
The illusion of success has faded and the Platinum has lost its shine. But having my plans grounded has produced a beautifully redemptive grounding work of Christ in my life. And I’m thankful.