It’s been over 2 months since I’ve written last. During that time I’ve been on 4 pretty substantial journeys; one with our student leadership team, one with 115 others on our middle school mission trip, one with an amazing group of high schoolers, and one on vacation with my favorite 5 people on earth…in that order.
There simply is no way to capture and convey the incredible things that I experienced during these past 2 months. They’ve been filled with the pleasure of watching God do above and way beyond my expectations. Its hard to believe–even now–that those 4 trips (especially the first 3) are behind me. That’s because for the past year or more these 4 experiences have been like islands on the distant horizon. And now they’re all behind me.
I’ve thought thoughts, I’ve had conversations, I’ve witnessed unforgettable things. And I’ve blogged about none of it. Despite my best intentions, I’ve not even been able to stop and record any of it for you, my readers. I would apologize, but I tend to over-apologize for not writing and for better or worse, not being able to write has just been my reality this summer. As they say: “It is what it is.”
But I do want to share a recent experience with you. It was actually the MOST recent memorable thing I experienced while on vacation.
It was our final night on the road and we had stopped in Goldsboro, NC to visit my parents. My mom had just had knee replacement surgery (pray for her recovery, if you would) and I wanted to stop in if even for a brief visit. We booked a room at a hotel in town that will remain nameless, but it starts with an H and ends with an Ampton Inn. We had gotten settled in for the evening and it was a few minutes before 10 p.m. when all 6 of us were drifting off to sleep. It didn’t take long at all before we were all in Lah-lah Land, worn out from our drive that started that morning in central Florida.
I was awakened by voices at 2:15 a.m. They seemed to be coming from outside our second floor window. I got up, tiptoed to the window and peeked out to see 3 people sitting at a table next to the hotel pool. Despite the fact that it was quite literally the middle of the night, these three were oblivious and their volume was anything but quiet. Slightly in shock at the disregard to people like me who come to a hotel to actually sleep, I slipped back into bed hoping they’d soon be on their way.
I gave them 15 minutes or so and then got up again. Careful not to wake my family, I picked up my cell phone from the table, slipped into the bathroom, and called the hotel front desk. I was greeted merrily by “Josh”.
“Uh, yeah. Hi Josh. I’m a guest at your hotel and I’m just calling to tell you that there are 3 people out by your pool who are talking very loudly, and they’re keeping me awake.”
Josh responded, “Yes sir, thank you for letting me know. I’ll take care of it immediately.” *click*
Feeling pretty proud that I took care of business (or rather, asked Josh to), I started to get back in bed but before my head touched the pillow, I thought, “Oh wait, I wanna see the vigilante justice carried out!” So I got up, hurried over to the window, and peered out waiting for Josh or someone large to give those hooligans the riot act for daring to bother the guests in room 218.
And I waited. And waited. And……nothing. No Josh. No vigilantes. No bloodshed. Nothing but a huge let-down.
Ironically, I found these in my hotel bathroom the next morning.
As I stood there with what I’m sure was a wide-open mouth, I watched in shocked horror as the threesome not only didn’t quiet down and didn’t scram, but they then proceeded to push away from their beer bottle-riddled table, disrobe, and jump into the pool! They quickly found a beach ball and began swatting it around to each other. Have you ever heard a beach ball being slapped at 3 a.m.?!? It’s obnoxious!
I simply couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I mean this almost topped a previous hotel stay debacle from years ago; the one that will forever live in infamy as “The night we met the MMA industry”.
Defeated by three inebriated individuals, I got back in bed. Have you ever planned a speech in your head? A speech you imagined giving to a certain someone whereby the longer you talked the smaller they became? My “someone” was Josh and the three half-naked beach ballers and by the end of my imaginary speech, they were the size of fleas. Have you ever daydreamed your vindicating speech and then went a step further and through the wonders of imagination shaped the entire guest care policy of an international hotel chain? Nah, me neither. But I did think of what this hotel’s mission statement might be, if they even had one, and how they had failed to live up to it as evidenced by me being awakened by the three long-necked losers outside my second floor window. I was indignant. Mortified. Boiling over with….zzzzzzz. (I fell asleep mid-boil.)
In the morning, I woke up to my alarm and my first order of business was to check the window. Had it all been a dream? Had I not really changed the complexion of the guest care policy of an international hotel chain? I looked down to that same poolside table and saw a lone, empty long-neck beer bottle.
On my way down to breakfast, I stopped by the only door that led out to the hotel pool. Clearly stated on the wall next to the door I saw a sign that said in no uncertain terms: “POOL HOURS: 10 A.M. TO 10 P.M.” And despite my best squinting, I saw no fine print that said, “Unless you want to swim half-drunk at 3 a.m. In that case, go right ahead. Oh and by the way, there’s a beach ball out there too. Be sure to swat that around in your drunken stupor.”
Here’s a mission statement I’d like to suggest to the Goldsboro, NC Hampton Inn and really to any hotel that exists anywhere: “Our mission as a hotel is to provide and protect a pleasant and restful stay for all of our guests.” If only that hotel had that as their mission, and if only they carried it out, I would have nothing to write about after staying the night there.
A sense of mission keeps us looking at what’s most important. Because God knows there are tons of distractions in this life. Some people mistake them for life and death issues, but they’re not. What is your mission? What is your purpose? What are you on this planet for? I’d dare you to unearth it, declare it, and live it. It will not merely make the difference in YOUR life, but also that of your marriage, family, business, ministry, or organization. Begin with “I exist to…” You and I both know that its tempting to go shallow as we answer that, but we also know when we’re living shallow lives. Deep down we know there’s more than what we’ve settled for.
So, as it turns out, if that hotel had stuck to their mission and their purpose for existing; if they had declared it and lived it I would not have anything to talk about. But they didn’t and I hope we’ll use it as an opportunity to recenter ourselves on our mission.