This winter, on our first day in Kauai, we needed to take a bus to get our rental car, which was an hour away. Luggage beside us, we waited for the bus to arrive. It was a 30-minute wait, and we got to enjoy some warm weather that contrasted greatly with the minus 4 weather in Pullman.
During our wait, a 25-year-old woman sitting across from us started pacing around – getting up, sitting down, getting up, walking around, picking up leaves, throwing them in the trash and, then, sitting back down again. She was sweating profusely, and she looked anxious.
When she calmed down a little bit, she looked at us and started talking about her mental health problems, specifically her anxiety and schizophrenia. She talked about how walking and picking up leaves helped ease and soothe her anxiety. She talked about being homeless at one point in her life, the baby she had who died four days after birth and the baby’s father who had done no good in their lives. We only asked a few questions about her life, but they were enough for her to share bits and pieces of her story.
The bus arrived on time, and our conversation ended. We parted ways not knowing each other’s names. (P.S. We bumped into her at Walmart a few hours later and exchanged names!) Then, we approached the bus. Yet, lo and behold, the bus driver didn’t allow us to get on because our suitcases were too big to fit inside. We offered to pay for extra seats to put our luggage, and it was still a no.
Lord, why? We waited for 30 minutes. We need transportation to pick up our rental car.
I kept my frustrations to myself, and we started looking for an Uber. Our ride got rejected by several drivers because of the location’s distance, but thankfully one man decided to drive us.
So we hopped in the Uber, and a few minutes later, this man opened up about his dear friend who has been struggling with alcoholism and mental health problems for many years. He talked about the pain, stress and pressure he feels as his friend’s only “family” on the island. He talked about the brokenness he saw in his friend’s life and how he wished that she took accountability for her life. I could hear how much he cared about her.
An hour later, we arrived at our destination. As I said my goodbye, I told him that I understood his pain because I grew up witnessing family members struggle with drug and alcohol addictions, homelessness and mental health problems. I gave him some encouragement, and that was the end of our interaction with him.
I sat inside that rental car and was amazed by the two people we met, and the stories we heard, that were full of pain and brokenness. Not being allowed on the bus was a blessing in disguise. It was a detour we didn’t want, but it was what God intended to happen. They needed someone to listen, and God put us at the right place at the right time to be their listening ear.
Detours in life are frustrating. You planned to get to your destination a certain way, but God’s way is always best. The way God moves goes above and beyond our intellect and capabilities. Detours are God’s way of saying, “Let me take you on an adventure.”
So the next time you come across a detour, ask this: “God, where and to whom are you leading me ? Let’s go on an adventure.”
Loren Negron is a student at Washington State University pursuing a dual degree in journalism and sociology with a minor in psychology.
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