A week ago, we had returned home from our trip out West. I have been processing something that happened on the return trip and I feel ready to share it.
This may cause my husband to grimace.
I am so sorry.
We had a great time with family and enjoyed the last two days at the home of our cousins in Olympia. I can honestly say if we lived closer we would hang out for sure. We laughed a lot, even as we shared some deeper conversations, and they felt as much like friends as family.
We left for our flight early Tuesday morning, still laughing and joking with them via texts on the way to the airport. I managed to get a pass for security so sailed through that and got my coffee while I waited for Russ.
Flying Southwest went right along with my mood; the staff are noted for being light hearted and throw in jokes along with announcements. All was going well, except Russ and I had gotten Section C boarding on a fairly full flight so chances were slim we could sit together.
Lo and behold, as we made our way down the aisle a flight attendant was standing next to two empty adjacent seats. Russ motioned to them and asked if they were open.
She nodded with that big Southwest smile and then cocked her head and said in extreme perkiness, looking directly into my eyes, something like, “You can sit here BUT you have to agree to help the other passengers in the event of an emergency.”
I shot back, “Oh well, then no thank you!! I don’t want to help people.”
Ok, was that just Russ that gasped or are there several of you out there experiencing inner pain on my behalf?
All of a sudden the happy lines of the jovial face hardened into the seriousness of a TSA guard. With steely eyes, she snapped, “So!! You are NOT willing to help people if there is an emergency???”
I stammered out something about of course I would help people and floundered to think how she couldn’t possibly know I was just kidding.
I looked to Russ for affirmation, confirmation and backup.
Uh. Basically, he looked about as mortified as I have seen him for a very long time.
Somehow I passed the second test by reiterating, most emphatically, that of course I would be willing to help people and we were allowed to sit in our seats.
Some of the other passengers eyed me suspiciously as Russ proceeded to ask me, basically, what the heck I thought I was doing and reminded me that it is important to take things like that seriously on an airplane.
I felt horrible, embarrassed and pretty darn silly as I made my feeble excuse that I thought she was joking because who wouldn’t want to help people. He assured me again they don’t joke about things like that.
I spent the rest of the flight trying to not look like a terrorist or raise further concerns about my sanity, using every opportunity to redeem myself with good behavior. It is possible I went overboard with this, but I felt under pressure.
Being basically one of the biggest people pleasers in all God’s kingdom, I have racked my brain this week on what possessed me to respond that way.
All I can come up with is that I had been having several days of non-stop laughter, and the atmosphere on Southwest is one of random singing, puns and joke telling so I was kind of in that mode.
But I need to know when to get out of the mode when the situation changes. And I hadn’t.
I am still fighting the urge to crawl under a rock and wishing I could rewind a few minutes of my life, while also wondering why God seems to ask me to share these ridiculous parts of who I am with a wide range of people….but I think the point is…..
We can get caught up in the mood of where we work, or where we shop, or where we hang out. If nothing else, we live in a culture where anything is up for grabs in a monologue, tweet or standup routine. Leaders of all kinds throw out banter and quips and even the news team tries to be clever with their delivery. The most serious of issues are made light of in the name of entertainment.
And then all of a sudden we run smack dab into something that requires us to face up to our responsibilities and to respond in an appropriate way. A sudden shift in our circumstance catapults us into a spotlight that requires sincerity and respect for the gravity of the situation.
Sometimes we pass the test and sometimes we make ourselves the dunce.
I pray to be someone who can enjoy the fun parts of living here on planet earth, but who knows when to take things seriously and to have the wisdom and guidance of God to answer appropriately when that is what is required. I believe God calls it being salt and light.
I am thankful for grace when I goof up, but I want to grow and mature in the things of the Lord so that when the opportunity arises to give the right response, I rise to the opportunity.
May God bless you this week in all the situations and circumstances life brings your way. And if you blow it, well, come find me. I will be the one, blushing profusely and trying to get her foot out of her mouth right under the emergency exit sign…..