Traveling: Will You Wear Your Jesus Skin?
On a typical day, where everything is going good, would you say you are kind or mean, grace-filled or hateful, happy or angry, selfless or selfish? What about on a stressful day where kids are running late, you’re running late, traffic is backed up? What about on Sunday? Are you “just fine” when you leave the car? All smiles?
Al & I travel a lot. We see a lot of airports and a lot of flights delayed, flights canceled, missed flights. We really see people at their worst and we’ve all been there—none of us are above a bad day with a bad attitude. As a celebrity family, people see us sometimes when we’re stressed, tired, hurried and just not on our best day. What I’ve tried to get across to my family is that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Most of these people will never see us again, and if their impression is not good, they get a bad first impression. If we are showing Christ to an unchurched world, then we must be on our best game all the time. I know that grace has a place in this life and these “first impressions” but most unchurched aren’t grace-filled. We simply are, who they see us as.
As we sit in airplanes awaiting folks to take their seats or as we are all standing up to exit the plane at the end of the flight, you see a lot of people who are impatient, hurried, and unkind. I’m not sure why but it seems air travel brings out the worst in folks. Maybe it’s because:
- we hurry up to get to the airport on time
- we have to undress to get through security
- we sit and wait until they decide it’s time to get on
- then the flight is running late
- after you finally take off, you hope that the 30-minute window to get to the next flight is enough.
- Then… when we get to the next airport, the gate we are going to still has a plane in it.
- Or worse… the workers aren’t even there to direct you in.
- You then realize that you have just missed the next flight
- and your day is ruined.
It may sound ridiculous but it is the life of a frequent flyer.
I can sit almost anywhere on an airplane (I did say ALMOST anywhere). My husband, my love, my soulmate, likes first class. Now before you start throwing out things like “Sounds like rich people problems!” understand that he does have a problem. He has a form of claustrophobia/hemmed in phobia. It started about 12 years ago when we were only flying economy or with the luggage if that was cheaper. The first time it happened, he thought it was a panic attack of some sort and I guess it really is. We were in Europe traveling with a singing group and our dear friends, Mac & Mary Owen. He got into a van & went to the back—a great servant heart to take the back seat. As the van and seats around him began to fill up, he started to feel the panic. It was a flee the vehicle or go crazy feeling. That was it. Never again could he sit in a place, wedged in by humanity.
It also happened going to the duck blind one morning with none other than Phil and yes, Mac Owen. He got in the back of the cab that’s really only big enough for guns and gear. A baby car seat wouldn’t even fit (not that Phil would need a vehicle that a car seat could fit in), but that’s totally beside the point. It was SMALL! A grown man could fit but he could clip his toenail at the same time because his feet were in his face. Ok, you get the idea. My man has issues!
Now, back to the attitude and first impressions that we are talking about. Recently, we were flying home from Hawaii and we were tired. Different time zones can be rough on you. You stay in one place long enough to get used to the time difference and then it’s time to go. Frustrating! I can hear that tiny violin you’re strumming. I know, I was in Hawaii! I’m blessed! Anyway, we get to LAX (not a fun airport anyway) and we get in line to board the plane. As they scan Al’s ticket, he goes on toward the jet bridge (every man for himself) and then they scan mine and oops, there’s a problem. I’m getting upgraded, right? But wait, I’m already in first class. There’s something better than first class?
“Please, mam, wait here for the manager.”
My first thought is “Oh man, they found my shells in my luggage and I’m in trouble with the FAA!”
The kind gentleman says “Mam, I’m sorry but there’s a seat broke in the first class cabin.”
I’m thinking, ‘shoot, I can’t sit with Alan.’
Then he says, “There are no more seats in first class. We have another seat for you in economy. Would you like an aisle, middle or window?”
Now, I’m thinking, ‘ok, economy plus isn’t bad. It’s right behind first. At least I can see Al.’ So I say that I want aisle in economy plus.
Then this red-faced, worried man says, “No mam, our economy plus is full too.”
I’m seeing myself wedged in between 2 full grown men that could be football players or sumo wrestlers and “I think to myself, what a wonderful world this could be!” if they would just give me my original seat.
“Kind, sir, I paid for first class. I would rather be in first class. Couldn’t you move someone else? Isn’t there an aged man or a fussy toddler or a smart Alec teenager that you could move?”
Ok, the last sentence I didn’t actually say it—but I did think it!
“We realize that you paid for a first class ticket and we are prepared to give you a voucher to use for future travel but there are no more seats in first class. I’m sorry Ms. Robertson.”
Well, ok, I’m booted to economy, row 33, aisle seat. I think that at least I have a seat and I did just spend 12 days with Al in Hawaii.
Meanwhile, back in seat 5B is a frustrated husband who doesn’t know how to tell this germophobe, rude guy that he is in my seat! Well, the story goes on but I won’t continue to bore you.
I just want to say that my flesh reaction was to be angry. “Don’t they know who they’re messing with?!”
But, it wasn’t this man’s fault that the seat was broke. It wasn’t his fault that a rude guy was taking my seat (his seat was the broken one). It wasn’t his fault this guy and my guy has a higher flying status than I do. There was nothing any of us could do but go with it. I wasn’t happy, but it’s life. Al wasn’t about to change seats. He would have had to jump out of the window when his phobia came upon him.
Sometimes in life, there are things that are beyond our control. A hissy-fit wouldn’t do any of us any good. This kind manager probably had a chewing out already today. I decided to not chew on him anymore.
Isn’t that what our attitude should be? Proverbs 17:27 AMP says, “He who has knowledge restrains and is careful with his words, And a man of understanding and wisdom has a cool spirit (self-control, an even temper).“
If I had demonstrated my flesh reaction, I would have given everyone a bad impression of me and of Jesus (He, after all, is who I represent. ) Instead, I choose the fruit of patience. I didn’t pray for it because if you do, beware. Ha! Just joking. I pray for all the fruit. I want to be like Christ! We are called to be free! Free of worry, free of anger, free of judgment. If we live by Galatians 5, we are free in Christ. We will look like him. We will act like him. If we don’t, we look like our flesh. I don’t want to look like my flesh. I want to have Jesus skin on.
We all have bad days but you can have a bad day without having a bad attitude. Remember who you belong to, who sacrificed a life for you, and who rose to give you a new life. We are made in the image of God. When you are having a bad day, pull yourself together by putting on your Jesus skin and the full armor that he gives us. We are Heaven bound! No one can take that seat from you.