I truly believe that all of us have some anxiety when it comes to travel, especially alone. For some it’s probably suppressed deep-down, almost to the point of non-existence & for others it’s like a “glow.” You know, like the “pregnancy glow,” which by-the-way I’m not certain why it’s called a glow, it’s just sweat from all that extra weight you’re now carrying around…anyway, kind of the perfect analogy.😉
On one of my many traveling excursions, it turned out to be quite life-changing. One, which of course held moments of blatant obvious anxiety, that I hide SO well, but where as soon as I landed back home, I would know the exact purpose for my whole trip. So let’s begin, shall we…
You know the old saying, “Third time’s a charm,” well sometimes that’s even true with airline check-in desks…
Just like everyone, I started my journey at the check-in desk, only to find I was actually in line for the “Cargo” check-in. For those like me, this is Not for the average traveler, thus I looked like a fool standing at the desk. Just waiting. Thankfully a nice Delta agent asked if I had cargo, “yes, but I only need to check one of my bags.”🙈 He politely informed me I was in the wrong line, so I proceeded to move over…to the United Check-In (I was flying Delta). Again, the nice man picked up on my “glow” & asked if I was flying United. Of course, still unaware at the time (yes, one can be THAT blonde), I replied “No, flying Delta.” Let’s just say, I finally made it through security, onto the plane, and in Germany.
After sitting in economy for an 8+ hour flight, overnight, feeling like death as you start your day in Europe (this never changes), I had somehow thought it would be a great idea to head to our company headquarters for a meeting. Meaning, after picking up my luggage & getting my rental car, I headed to the airport’s womens bathroom to “get ready” & slip into a business suit… Hindsight is 20/20. Never. Again.
As the trip proceeded, there weren’t many high points above what I’ve already noted. No WIFI. Rain everyday. Forgot my umbrella. No fridge in my room (for the Cokes I packed-Duh!). Practically falling asleep at dinner with my colleagues (that same first day when I had decided it was a good idea to attend a meeting after no sleep in an airplane seat for 8 hours). And the worst migraine ever!
At this point I’m sure you’re wondering how I ever gained purpose from this trip.
Turns out, it was all about the flight home. Every piece that contributed to a negative experience was All worth it for what I was about to encounter.
About halfway through our 10 hour flight home, I noticed this woman. A mom. Like the rest of us. Put together enough to look like we “have it all together,” but inside we are tired & worn out from the endless demands of motherhood. She was traveling with her young son, somewhere about the age of 3-5. Her son had been good but was getting to the point of being “over it.” Mind you, my kids would have been obnoxious about the time they make the announcement that it’s safe to use electronics, so I wasn’t complaining. As I turned around, I saw her. The real her. Wiping up her spilled drink from her son’s tantrum that he was beginning to throw, & I could sense her urge to want to break down…but how could she? On a plane, surrounded by at least 80 people, who would become witness to a solo parent having a breakdown, & no one to console her. So I went to her.
I offered my iPad, but as I’d observed, she said he was simply ‘over it.’ Now I could have returned to my seat, felt like I had obeyed the unction of the Holy Spirit, or how some say, I had “done my duty,” but I hadn’t. So I bent down beside her, placed my hand on her arm, & God did the rest. I told her it was Okay the point her son was at, & not to stress. I encouraged her to know that those who have kids understand & those who don’t, don’t have a clue. I prayed with her. I let her know that if she needed anything the rest of the flight, I’d be glad to help. And I went back to my seat…feeling like I should have done more. At that point, I just prayed. For her. Her son. And an opportunity to help more if needed.
As we landed & went through passport security, retrieving luggage, customs, security, etc…I would see her. Never in a moment to offer help, but randomly. And at the same time, I saw others see her. Mis-judge her. Critique her parenting. Comment on the child’s behavior, who at this point had been up for 15+ hours, drug through airports, sat on the longest flight of his little life, & still had to endure more. Are you kidding people?? At that point, even I want to act like him and throw myself onto the floor in refusal to remove my shoes for a security checkpoint, when I’ve never even left the airport.
And as I saw all of this, I realized how we are often too quick to pass judgement on others, offer them our expertise, without knowing what time their day started, or what flight path they have just disembarked from.
“Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” ~Rev John Watson
I read this at the start of that trip. Such words have never rang so deep in my soul.