I was so proud of myself. Usually, I am running out the door grasping my day by the coat tails, trying to catch up. But this time, I was on time, ready and waiting for the driver to whisk me away to the Charlotte airport. According to my travel itinerary, I would be looking at the Denver mountains by ten a.m. When after twenty minutes of waiting, I had not seen or heard from the driver, my husband rushed me to the airport. And so began the ripple effect of the flight-to-Denver debacle.
I arrived at the airport in time to board the plane only to be told by the ticketing agent, “It’s too late to check your bag for this fight. I will check your bag for the next flight to Denver, but that means you can’t get on your scheduled flight. You must fly with your bag.”
With the click of a few computer keys, he sentenced me to a stand-by list for the next flight, told me it was not likely I’d get on a flight to Denver until ten o’clock that night, and sent me on my way. Confused by this turn of events, and out of breath from rushing to check my bag, I was completely discombobulated. Honestly, I wanted to go back home, climb back in bed, and start over. My husband, for whom airports are his second home, advised me to wait out my stand-by sentence in the Admirals Club where I’d find a little reprieve from the all-day-airport hell.
There, it felt like I was becoming a permanent resident as airplane after airplane took flight to Denver with no room for me. Meanwhile, my checked bag had uneventfully arrived in Denver and was waiting for me to claim it. Now, I know in the larger context of the world’s chaos, feeling abandoned and forgotten in the Charlotte Airport Admirals Club can be classified as an insignificant “first world problem” (punctuated with an eye roll emoji). And even though I rationalized the privilege and cushiness of my issue, I was nonetheless wallowing in disappointment. And when disappointment ushered in the slow burn of anger, my husband phoned me with reinforcement encouragement.
“You can vent for two minutes,” he said. “But that’s it! You can’t go negative when you’re stuck in the airport,” he drilled, “because you won’t recover.” So for two minutes only, I whined about how none of this was my fault. I had done everything right to avoid chaos — even scheduled an early morning flight to avoid the crowds. I wanted to know why I was told to forgo my flight to stay with my checked bag, but my bag was allowed to fly to Denver without me! I felt slighted. I was like a toddler who wanted the world to make sense on her terms, terms based on her limited understanding.
My two-minute venting released the slow burn simmering deep in my chest. Now, I had room to breathe. I took a deep, mindful breath and inhaled truth: I am not in control. And with a deliberate, slow exhale, truth continued: But I am empowered. With renewed breath came a renewed reality:
Although I did not choose my circumstance, I could choose to thrive in it.
My husband and I have taught our children that if they are lost or in trouble to ask another mom for help. Likewise, I needed to find a “mom” who would see me as a child in need of rescue. I had to find a “mom” who would hear the nonsense of my story and be empathetic. I knew it would take a motherly someone to make room for me. So, I scanned the faces of each uniformed representative seated behind a computer, searching for a nurturer whose eyes were filled with compassion. My heart landed on José! In his eyes, I saw the warmth of empathy and justice. He confirmed that the ticketing agent had made a mistake and that I should have remained on my original scheduled flight. He then overrode the system to make room for me on the next flight to Denver.
Finally, when time came to board the flight, José phoned me to make sure I was at the gate ready to board. That’s such a mom move!
I know that being condemned to the Admirals Club for twelve hours pales in comparison to Hagar and Ishmael, who when banished to the desert, lay dying, believing that God had abandoned and forgotten them. Fortunately, regardless of the size of our trouble, God cares. We are nurtured by a God who sees us, hears us, and helps us through husbands, moms, and José’s. And when we choose to rest in the reality of a caring God, we can be empowered in the midst of our uncontrollable circumstances.
Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” Genesis 16:13 (NLT)
When we choose to rest in the reality of a caring God, we can be empowered in the midst of our uncontrollable circumstances. -Lucretia Berry (@brownicity): Click To Tweet