On November 29, 2016, a plane carrying a Brazilian soccer team crashed killing 19 of its members.
Only three survived.
What’s more heartbreaking is, according to several news outlets, it was due to human error. The pilots did not plan appropriately for such a long flight – one that was 1,000 pounds overweight and crashed before they could make it.
The underdog team was headed to the championship game of its season, a victory they had overcome many odds to attain.
My heart was broken, and I read several reports looking for a glimmer of hope in such tragedy.
One article I read briefly mentioned a young man who had not boarded the plane with his teammates. He had stayed behind because of an injury he sustained to his leg in the last game.
I read this one sentence over and over. Feelings of gratefulness and humility overwhelmed me.
I wondered what he must have felt after breaking his leg, knowing his dreams of playing in the championship game were over.
I imagined his resentment as he watched the team celebrating their victory in the locker room, and I felt his hurt and anger as he watched his team board the plane headed to the championship he had every right to play.
“It’s not fair!” he must have thought.
“Why me, God?” he may have even asked.
And then, I imagined him hearing the news of what had happened to his team, his brothers, his friends.
Grief and guilt must have engulfed him as he came to the realization that the very circumstance he thought had taken everything, was also the very situation that had saved his life. What an opportunity to thank God for what He didn’t allow!
There is a storage tote in my garage that holds mementos from my past. I rummage through that tote at least once a year, reminiscing and reflecting over time gone by. Each year as I grow, learn, and mature, the tokens I’ve saved take on new meaning.
This year it was my rejection letter from the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s doctoral program.
It stated: “The faculty in the W.E.B. DuBois Department of Afro-American Studies have considered your application…I regret to inform you, however, that they were unable to recommend your admission.”
I received that letter on March 4, 2009.
I had recently graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and African-American Studies. I had learned tons during the five and a half years I spent in academia, but I was no more prepared to begin a career that would take care of me and my two sons than when I had first enrolled.
My relationship with my fiancée and the father of my children was over, for good this time, and I was struggling to hold on to the apartment I had gotten on my own.
Just months later, I would be evicted and would have to move back to the drug and crime-ridden neighborhood I had gotten my boys out of.
Receiving the letter was devastating, to say the least.
I wondered why I had not been enough for them. It was the first time I had ever been denied an opportunity that I wanted and believed I deserved.
I kept the letter as a painful reminder that I would be successful despite the rejection I had experienced, and in spite of the other trials I seemed to be facing.
Now, as I read the letter seven years later, I understand that my rejection by the University means nothing compared to the acceptance I have by a loving Father who has a perfect plan for my life.
The woman I am now, understands that there were rejections, failures, and losses that had to be experienced in order to lead me to the place I am in now.
One filled with the peace, love, and joy of God.
The girl I was, did not understand that the eviction would put me in the perfect position to walk in my purpose.
She didn’t realize that she would meet the man of her dreams just seven months after receiving that letter – in Detroit, not Massachusetts – and that everything that seemed to be going wrong was working completely for her good.
The girl I was couldn’t see the plan and the purpose for the pain she had endured. But the woman that I have become has learned that if I truly love God, then I must trust Him.
And if I trust Him, I will have the faith to thank Him not only for the doors He opens in my life, but for the doors He closes as well.
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