I’ve gone through some stormy nights in my life. The kind of nights where you toss and turn, sleep fretfully, and have vivid, sometimes horrific nightmares. I had one of those nights just last week, on the night I attempted to get to Edel.
I feel like I need to explain to you how much the Edel Gathering meant to me, even before I went. I became aware of it in 2015 and I couldn’t make it because I would have been nine months pregnant. I made my husband promise me that I would go to the next one and I pinched my pennies for the next two years to make it a reality. I loved that I would get to meet some of my favorite Catholic bloggers and make friends who understood my faith. Everyone who attended raved about its inclusivity, how no one ever had to be alone. As an introvert, I found the feeling of inclusivity attractive, a space where I could be my weird self and still be understood. I booked everything and planned my wardrobe months in advance because I couldn’t wait to be there.
My travel plans did not go as expected. Our flight was delayed for half an hour and after boarding we waited on the tarmac for nearly three hours before they canceled our flight. I deplaned and headed for the customer service desk filled with righteous indignation and was completely deflated when I saw there were at least three hundred people ahead of me. Apparently, they canceled four other flights at the same time, including one bound for Dallas and we all headed for the gate at the same time.
We waited in that line for almost three hours before we called it quits. There were still at least 100 people ahead of us, we were hearing whispers that the only open flights were for Saturday night (our flight was supposed to be Thursday night) and we needed to start moving NOW. While my husband and sister in law frantically searched for any flight we could take within 200 miles of Newark, we marched down to baggage claim to find our bags and then run over to rent a car. When we arrived our bags were nowhere to be found and the gentleman at baggage claim said it would be four to five hours before they could be located. Also, there were no rental cars.
I was completely out of steam. I found a quiet corner, sat on the cold linoleum, and cried while I called my husband. My flight was canceled, my luggage missing, my phone was down to 30% and the chances of my making it to Edel after nearly three years of waiting were gone. Through tears I told my husband I didn’t think God wanted me to go and maybe we should just give up. He answered, “Jessica, God wants you to go. I’ve had the feeling for weeks that this is going to change your life. The Devil is trying to stop you from going, that’s why you have to do your best to get there and let God do the rest.” He said he’d keep looking and I promised to be brave but in my heart I knew there was no chance.
Little did I know that God was already working. I had posted on Facebook and Twitter about my traveling woes and the women at Edel were praying hard for me. Through some internet magic and God’s grace my sweet husband booked me on a flight from Philadelphia, a two hour drive away. The flight would take me to Atlanta for a 20 minute layover and then we’d go straight on to Austin. The only thing left to do was to go to my mother in laws house and take a power nap before we started driving.
I don’t know how to explain or describe my experience that night. No matter which way I turned my back was aching. I was hot under the blankets but the air conditioning felt frigid. Every time I closed my eyes I imagined 10,000 things that could go wrong. I stared straight into the darkness, straining my eyes to make shapes out of nothing but that only gave me a headache. The worst part was the feeling of intense pressure on my chest. My lungs felt constricted, I couldn’t get a full breath of air in. This burning pain settled onto my heart while I tried to fight off the inevitable thought: I would never get to Edel.
The parties would go on, the talks would make everyone laugh and cry, bonds would be made, prayers said, and I would spend the entire weekend back at home, faking a smile and trying to cope. Which makes me sound completely pathetic and I was pretty pathetic in that moment. I had pinned so many of my hopes and dreams on this weekend, I was burnt and stressed from having two kids in two years and I needed this to rejuvenate myself and march forward. In that moment I was utterly defeated and I sent my husband a text message at three in the morning telling him this wasn’t a good idea and I should just stay home.
I laid back down and thought of all the times in my life that catastrophe had struck. The summer my 4 year old brother was diagnosed with leukemia, the day our house was foreclosed on, the moment I found myself pregnant with our first child and had to cut off ties with my mother. In all of those situations I had had no control and railed against an uncaring and unjust God who refused to come to my rescue. The only thing that had changed was my faith.
I knelt by the side of the couch and prayed.
“Lord, you know what this means to me. I thought this event would change my life. I keep fighting and fighting but nothing’s going my way. So I surrender. I leave the rest of this up to you. I’ll try as hard as I can, I’ll drive and sprint and sit in the most uncomfortable seats if I have to, but the rest is up to you. If you want me there then make it so. If not, then help me come to terms with it.”
I prayed til I had no more words and then I took the tangled mess of feelings on my chest and threw them into the ether. He was God, he’d be able to decipher it. The rest, as they say, is history.
We woke up and drove to Philadelphia and never even hit a red light. We breezed through security and had an uneventful flight to Atlanta. We only had a twenty minute layover in which to catch our next plane but in an unexpected twist the flight was delayed 20 minutes, which gave us enough time to get to the gate and use the facilities before getting onboard. My husband surprised us with first class tickets so we sat in luxury the whole way to Austin. Within five minutes we were in an Uber to the hotel. We checked in and I had enough time to change and fix my crazy shoes and head down to the party.
The Edel Gathering was everything I hoped it would be. I met a ton of people, I laughed and cried, I was reaffirmed in my faith and rejuvenated to come home and continue the business of caring for my husband and children. I also learned the true meaning of surrender, of giving yourself over to His will. Despite my faith and all of my efforts I had been content to do it all on my own, never wavering from my own path and desires. God is a gentleman, He doesn’t barge in where He isn’t wanted, so He’s allowed me to struggle and flounder so I can make my way back to Him.
So my friends, I did battle with a demon and the Lord defeated him for me. How was your weekend?
Let me know in the comments below how I can pray for you!