Have you had the experience yet of something wonderful coming from something you thought was horrible?
Christmas is tied to such a memory. Arriving at an airport 30 minutes before my flight was scheduled to leave, I had checked-in before I left, so thought I’d have no problem. It was an unfamiliar airport but still no problem. Until I looked for my boarding pass and couldn’t find it. No text. No email.
“You’ll have to go to the kiosk and check in,” the agent said.
“But I don’t have time,” I replied.
“Sure you will, it’s right over there,” she waved in its direction.
I went and the kiosk said, “It’s too late to check in for this flight.”
I started to panic. I walked around all the ticketing lines up to the desk and said, “The kiosk is saying I can’t check in for my flight.”
“What time is your flight?” she asked, and when she heard said, “It is too late; you have to check in 30 minutes ahead.” I had bucked line, there was no point in wailing, “But I did check in!”
An agent came up and said, “You have to get in line,” as I fought back tears. Normally I don’t care about a few extra hours, but this time I wanted to get home.
A couple of minutes later I remembered that God can bring good from anything and thanked him that I had missed my flight. Not yet feeling thankful, I went back to the kiosk and checked in for a new flight two hours later. But I wasn’t satisfied and stood in the special helps line. It didn’t move, and a thought persistently came: Go to the gate.
It seemed silly, but finally I went. My plane was still on the ground but they had just closed the door, and for some reason I went to the next gate which was also leaving for my connecting city ten minutes later. I asked if I could still make my connection.
The agent said, “I don’t know but I can get you on this flight if you want.” And just like that she printed a new boarding pass and I was on the plane.
Arriving at my connection I was intent to see if my flight was still there. It had gone and I had to wait almost three hours. I found another flight but they were oversold and asking for volunteers. Disappointed but resigned, I called my husband about the three hour-delay. He was gracious and I settled in to wait.
I finally got on the plane–an aisle seat on a 747 (!)–by a good-natured 13 year-old boy.
Then his dad came and asked me to trade with his sister so they could sit together. I can’t deny I was the tiniest bit irritated underneath my good-natured cooperation.
Bella was 83 and last to board, and got to my traded aisle seat just before me. I got the window seat. I don’t mind window seats, but…
We were both exhausted and planning to sleep. She had just flown in from Belgium so to her it was midnight. She was trying to sleep when the food cart came, and I was reading. She invited me to share her “picnic” and soon we realized we were kindred spirits.
I’ve met many great people on planes and would like to stay connected, but the persistent present closes over pleasant people who become pleasant past experience.
What made the difference with Bella?
Maybe it was her wonderful attitude toward life, compliments of cheating death after a heart attack nine years earlier. Maybe we had so much in common except that she didn’t believe in God. That usually isn’t a plus for me, but she was so open and authentic in her disregard. Maybe it was her openness to hearing me reframe her choice to live after her heart attack as choosing God because God=Life.
Whatever it was, four and a half hours later, I felt I had made a friend for life. Thank you, God, for getting me on that plane, in that seat.
I was trying to have a good attitude about a series of mistakes. God had a bigger perspective.