Travel God Moments Good Time Posted March 8, 2020

Taken just before NYC confirmed its first case of COVID-19.

There are two ladies who have a special place in my heart.

My wife, Mary, is the bubbliest person you can possibly imagine. She's just like a little kid, and I really don't have to give much to receive a barrage of hugs and kisses from her. For all the hardships I put myself through just to keep a roof over our heads, seeing her warm smile makes it all worth it.

Mary is best friends with Paige. She's strong willed as they come, and one of most steadfast in faith that I know of. She and I dated for five years before all of us formed our wonderful and weird bond. I wouldn't want it any other way, but I deeply regret breaking her heart and getting her hopes up time and time again.

How spoiled can one person possibly be, and how much fun does it take to compensate for the affliction? I figured I would get both answers with a trip to New York City. In a exceedingly rare moment when money wasn't an issue, I was determined we would have the time of our lives. And we did... for reasons I didn't quite expect.

FOOD: My plan was to try at least one fancy restaurant here, and we settled for a place called the 'Black Walnut' after we arrived. At least I think it was fancy; my tab ran more than $100, so I'm calling it whatever I want. The food was okay, but the portions were comically small. If your target demographic consists of people who are conscientious about their calories, that's one thing -- but a soft taco the size of a Reese Cup isn't going to cut it for the rest of us.

With no real plans for lunch the following day, we came across a pizzeria that offered two huge slices and a can of pop for $2.75. It was arguably the best pizza of my life, and ten bucks was enough to satiate all of us.

VIEWS: For nearly $40/person, you can ride to the top of the tallest building in the western hemisphere, the One World Trade Center. It can get busy at times, but it isn't a tourist trap like the Empire State Building.

You can dine here, and there's lots of bells and whistles to make your "experience" better. But if you're just looking for a great view of NYC (and the Statue of Liberty), I recommend taking a round trip on the Staten Island Ferry. And the best part... it's free!

ENTERTAINMENT: Seeing a Broadway show here is a must, and I have no regrets shelling out $70/ticket to see the 'Phantom of the Opera'. These actors and musicians put on a riveting show, as though their lives depended on it. Seeing how ungodly expensive it is here, they probably are.

It doesn't cost anything, however, to see the six-time Grammy Award winning Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. Every person singing on stage comes from some kind of broken background, and they are all witnesses to the divine healing power of Jesus Christ. These people have every reason to sing for joy, and this church is a beacon of light in what can otherwise be a very harsh and dark environment.

PEOPLE AND ATMOSPHERE: I've spent more money than I'm willing to admit shopping around Times Square. I've also spent a lot time checking out all the important stuff that doesn't always get listed in the travel guide.

But putting those plans on hold and taking a moment for yourself is an experience in its own right. I had some meaningful conversations just from sitting down in various places. There's a comedian who will continue to make people laugh, because someone pointed out how strong they are to find humor in a place like this. There's a utility worker with newfound joy, because one person out of the millions who have passed through these subways had thanked him for making life a little bit easier here.

Starting to see a pattern? Every alternative option I've listed has not only been a better experience than what I planned, but had cost little to nothing at all.

We didn't do everything we wanted to do. We didn't stay at a truly luxurious hotel. We had dinner at a McDonald's the following night. It didn’t matter. We left happy because everything about New York is designed to keep you that way, and it's impossible to make a mistake here as a tourist.

It got me thinking about how nothing can separate us from God's love. If those in Christ are indeed forgiven and not defined by yesterday's mistakes, I should forgive myself as well. And if God really has plans to give us hope and a future, there's no sense in beating myself over mine.

There's a fine line between having your needs addressed and trying to stave off boredom. There comes a point when it's all just “enough.” And that, I believe, is where true happiness can be found.