I took a flight last week to Georgia. I had some businessy business stuff that needed my attention. You know, buying, selling and merging stuff. Or it could have just been for a visit.
I had forgotten how stressed out people seem at an airport. But it wasn’t just everybody else. I was letting their stress add to mine. I waited in lines, angled for overhead storage space, and listened to so many complaints before the flight that a bit of loosening up would have been nice.
A lady a few seats behind me on my flight could not be made happy. The air vent was too cold, her lunch had been overcooked, her husband was going to be late because he was always late for everything, and on, and on, and on. If somebody dropped a bar of gold in her lap she would have complained that it was too heavy. And I realize I am complaining about her complaining. Ha. Irony. But that’s what she gets for whining right behind a blogger who had a deadline approaching.
As I overheard various complaints, it made me question what in the world was going so wrong in this woman’s life that she had to take it out on things that didn’t really matter. A loveless marriage? Screwed-up children? Dead-end job? I don’t know, but I found it hard to believe that the fit of a seat belt could be the culprit for wrecking the rest of her day.
Now that I think about it, that lady could have used a hug. I would’ve had to warn her first though because folks are still too uptight when they fly. A hug would have been more practical than crossing my fingers and hoping for her to break out into a Hall and Oates song after complaint 39 or 40.
And now I’m left wondering how many other people on that plane hated their lives the same way that lady appeared to hate hers.
I usually check a bag when I fly and in that checked bag is often a firearm. This means special attention and a special escort to a TSA station where they ensure I’m not a terrorist. At both airports, I had time to chat with my TSA escort. We joked and talked until we got to our destination and, in both places, our conversation ended with a handshake and well wishes.
Please understand, I am not a teddy bear and I don’t get into tickle fights with strangers. My giving the complaining woman a hug would have been quite out of character because I’m not really a touchy person. But I was compelled to be kind to the people I came into contact with. Not that silence is rude, but I felt prompted to talk with my TSA escorts. Simple enough I suppose.
This begs the question for me though: Am I showing people the love of Christ in normal everyday interactions? I’m not talking about the 4 spiritual laws or saying “God bless” to the checker at the grocery store. But really, am I being assertive when opportunities to show compassion, kindness, love, concern, and graciousness arise?
More than random encounters, how am I treating the people I actually have a relationship with? Do I work harder at keeping things on the surface or do I seek to minister to them? Further, how much of a difference would it have made in the complaining woman’s life if she had someone who listened to the real concerns of her heart?
My normal approach is to listen for the problem, provide a solution, and then high five myself later for being an awesome friend. For those who just really enjoy whining, I can offer no assistance—unless looks of boredom count. For those who need a sounding board though, I think I can do a better job of just being present.
I am responsible for my own attitude, but Christianity is intentionally relational. Our obligation is to love one another and that is hard to do if we’re only talking about the weather.
Just so you know, if you’re randomly tickled this week, it might be me trying a new approach to showing love. Consider yourselves warned.
*Photo credit: davitydave