That’s what happened to me in my early thirties when I was asked to attend a work-related conference in Seattle. Excited at the opportunity, I agreed to go but never imagined how this trip would free me from the self-imposed wall I build around myself. The one that made me feel safe and comfortable. The one I had no intentions of tearing down.
This trip was a lot of firsts for me. It was my first visit to the west coast, my first cross country flight and my first time travelling without loved ones. I was excited but nervous.
A few co-workers sensed my anxiety and took me under their wings. They helped me navigate the airport and escorted me to the hotel. They took me with them to see the sights of the city and always invited me to dinner.
After a few days, I began to relax and enjoy my new adventure. I became comfortable and decided to go out on my own. After returning from dinner, I parted ways with my comrades. Waving goodnight to them as the elevator doors closed, I turned and walked through the lobby. My destination: the hotel gift shop.
An open glass door invited me into the small store that was packed with Seattle-themed merchandise. I found mugs with pictures of the Seattle skyline, calendars, locally made candy, jewelry, paintings and sweatshirts.
I headed to the back of the store to a display of magnets. While browsing through the many shapes and sizes, I noticed more located on the lower part of the display. Getting on my knees, I searched until I found the perfect magnets for my loved ones back home.
As I got back on my feet a few minutes later, I sensed something was not right. The store that was crowded just a few moments before was empty. No one was there, not even the cashier.
I glanced at the door, and it was closed. I walked over and tried to open it with no luck. Panic arose as I realized I was locked inside.
I could see the lobby filled with many of my co-workers returning from dinner. If I knocked on the door, they would see me. I would be embarrassed and humiliated.
I turned and glanced around the store one more time. I had no choice. I had to get their attention.
I banged on the door and shouted for help. My co-workers spotted me and immediately went for help. Minutes later the cashier opened the door setting me free from captivity.
Over the next few days, I was the subject of my co-workers’ good humored jokes, and I found myself laughing with them.
I returned home a different person. I grew spiritually. I learned to let go of my anxieties and to remove the walls keeping me safely tucked away from the world.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
I spend the next five years travelling for work-related events. I saw places, I would not have seen otherwise. With each trip, I grew more independent, spiritually aware of God’s presence in my life.
Today I am linking up with Live Free Thursday.