I never cease to be amazed, or maybe the better word is comforted, by the genuine kindness of complete strangers. It’s not that I’m not aware or appreciative of kindness by those I know and love because I am! I just feel more tuned in to how God works sometimes when a stranger who crosses my path comforts and teaches me in a way that strangely, only a stranger could.
I met Elba on a 5:30am flight a few weeks ago. It was dark, we were tired, both admittedly not morning people, but in spite of it, we started chatting. Elba was about my age, but had 2 children when she was very young and was now divorced. Talking about her kids made Elba light up. She was so proud of them although she did struggle a bit with her daughter; a daughter whose personality bears a striking resemblance to mine. It was only a 30 minute flight and we might have only talked for about 20 minutes of it, but Elba left me with a perspective, an understanding, and clarity that I so desperately needed that week. As we left the plane and went our separate ways I wondered if she was real, if anyone else had even seen her, if she was my angel.
Yesterday evening was a bit taxing on my blood pressure. A delayed flight leaving Birmingham caused me to miss my 16 hour connecting flight in Atlanta to Johannesburg South Africa, and then to Cape Town from there. Such flights only leave once a day so I’m stuck in Atlanta for 24 hours until the flight leaves again. And with no bags; the airport held those hostage. After boarding 30 minutes late and then sitting on the runway for another hour, I knew by the time we took off that there was no way I would make my connecting flight unless they were delayed also. I spoke to the flight attendant several times asking if they could request the flight to wait on me, could they give me priority getting off the plane, etc. I teared up a couple times too realizing I would miss the first/orientation day of my volunteer trip, and would spend the evening in Atlanta undoing and redoing all of my travel arrangements and pickups. At the time I was only thankful for one thing; having some level of control over my emotions. Otherwise, I would have been acting like a child kicking and screaming, and it is very likely that I would have punched someone (s).
I tried to make myself feel better by deciding that the plane I missed was going to crash and that God had spared me (twisted, I know). But then I realized that the more likely scenario was that the devil was on attack again. He’s been doing that to me a lot lately. I was taunting the devil in my mind to just show himself so I could hit him! What a coward for messing with me like he has lately and not even doing it to my face! And at about that moment, the girl across the aisle from me leaned over and said “I just wanted to tell you that I’ve been praying for you the whole flight. I’ve been praying that your connecting flight would be delayed so you would make it.” Tears began to roll down my cheek. I didn’t get her name and we hadn’t said a word to one another until that moment, but she was in her 20s and on her way to Orlando to visit her sister. Her voice was so sweet and comforting. Her words were so kind and sincere. She knew nothing about me yet she began to pray for me. When I laid down to bed in the hotel last night I prayed for her too. It’s a beautiful circle isn’t it?
As much as I’m dreading my second attempt tonight to get to South Africa, I am looking forward to the stranger God has in store for me on those flights. But more than anything I realize now that I need to be someone else’s stranger; I need to be their angel. I need to be more observant and aware. I need to strike up more conversations and seek out those opportunities to make a difference.
Today I’m learning to breathe. Today I’m learning to see. Every day God blesses me with the ability to be. I’m always learning. I’m always trying. Pretty soon, I’ll be flying.
Tags: South Africa