This weekend, I flew to Texas to visit friends as well as to connect with a church. I flew out early Saturday morning and that’s where it all went downhill…lines out the door to check-in, angry travelers, annoyed airline attendants…and my mindset was ‘just get through security…it’ll all get better!’
I made it to my gate, boarded my flight to Dallas Fort Worth, and thought that I would be able to spend the flight reading and maybe even relaxing a little bit.
The couple sitting in the row with me was hungover, reeked of alcohol, and were arguing. The guy, who sat in the middle, did the typical ‘guy’ thing, and spread out as soon as he sat down, taking up both arm rests and half of my leg room as well. The man in front of me immediately put his chair all the way back and went to sleep. There was a family of 6 (four little girls from infant to probably 6 years old) sitting in the two rows directly behind me…who had absolutely no control of their children. I have never come across a family of more dramatic little girls who screamed at the top of their lungs when they did not get their way, and who kicked the back of my seat for the ENTIRE three hour trip. The parents would yell at their children, and the children would scream and throw a tantrum. I was in the back of the airplane near the bathroom, so there was a constant stream of people passing me. And to top it all off, at the end of the flight, the girl in my row started throwing up.
As the minutes slowly ticked by, my annoyance rose. On the outside, I was tolerant. I made it look like I was patient. I didn’t lose my temper. I didn’t show how annoyed I was allowing myself to be. But in my heart, I was losing it! As I sat there, I began to think of the people around me with disdain. I judged the parents behind me for allowing such behavior from their children. I judged the couple beside me for drinking to excess. I even condemned the man in front of me for being so inconsiderate and making me feel crowded. By the time we landed, I was DONE! I just wanted off the plane and away from those people.
I had a short layover in Dallas and when I arrived at my gate, I started thinking about the flight I had just gotten off, and I realized two thing.
- I had allowed my sinful attitude to rule my heart instead of truly showing God’s love to the people around me. Instead of judging the family behind me, I should have been understanding, knowing that it is very difficult to travel with children. I should have prayed for them and maybe even offered to help entertain their girls during the flight. I shouldn’t have been upset with the couple in my row. They were paying for their choices already. They needed my compassion rather than my condemnation. I had missed an opportunity to show Christ.
- Then I made a correlation to how easy it is to hide our sin. We can make ourselves look nice and Christian. We can say the right things, we can put on a great show and hide what is happening on the inside. Our hearts can be filled with the blackness of sin, while our outward actions can make it seem that we are pious. That’s what I had been doing on that flight. I let sin take root in my heart, and still made my outside seem pleasant.
So, do you need to test your heart? I know I needed to take a break on Saturday to confess and repent and pray for a changed heart. I wish I could go back and re-start that flight with a Christ-focused attitude. I wish I had used those three hours to bless the people around me and glorify God. I wish my life had been proclaiming Christ. And I pray I don’t soon forget the lessons I learned in the land between Michigan and Texas.