Unexpected Airport Epiphany

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The departure time came and went with no departure. The ticket agent informed the anxious passengers that the incoming plane was delayed due to weather in Chicago. Chicago. I should have known better than to connect in Chicago.  “The pilot will make up time in the air and you’ll land in Chicago just 15 minutes late.” Well, we were an hour late and by some miracle (and a run through the airport terminal reminiscent of a scene from Home Alone) I was the last passenger to walk onto my connecting flight to Charlotte.

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The return trip proved no better. This time delayed in the air, a 35 minute taxi to the gate, Home Alone scene take 2, and a very sweaty second miracle to make the connection. Oh, but this time my luggage showed up a day later. Thank goodness I was home!

All of this reminded me of why I hate flying. It is so annoying, so frustrating, and so tiring. Nothing is in your control. You are at the mercy of everyone and everything else. And in the midst of that helplessness, I was struck by how similar this experience is to real life.

Each morning I awake with no idea what the day will hold and with very little control over what it may bring. There may be delays. There may be bad weather. There may be large smelly men who sit next to you and take the entire arm rest (this really happened). Or there may be a little 9 year old with beautiful black braids and a more beautiful smile traveling with her exhausted grandmother who inspires you to give up your coveted window seat and a chance at a nap in order to learn about her school, her love for PE, and all of the friends she likes to play with at recess (all while blessing said grandmother with a little break). What if I had been too uptight, too frustrated, too annoyed, or too selfish to miss such a beautiful God moment?

There are two kinds of passengers in the airport. There are those who are losing it because they are not in control. And those who have let go because they know they are not in control. Each day we have the same choice.  We choose to lose it or to let go. We choose to be a burden or we choose to be a blessing.  We choose to pretend to control our circumstances or we actually control our response to them.  We simply react reflexively out of raw emotion or we respond thoughtfully out of evaluated emotions. When life feels out of control, we choose to grip tighter or to give it to God.

What do you choose this day? Share a time when you’ve “lost it” and a time you kept your poise by “letting go.”

When Failure Strengthens Faith

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I bombed. Absolutely, positively, bombed. I had an opportunity to speak in front of a speaker’s coach at a conference. It was a simple 5 minute speech. I’ve been speaking since high school and have given hundreds of speeches. and I bombed. And I had prepared! Diligently I had poured over my words and rehearsed them countless times. This was going to be awesome! I’d deliver my speech with authority and excitement in my voice. I’d capture my audience and take them on a journey with me. Except…I bombed.

I choked.

I failed.

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My nerves got the best of me. The room set up suddenly didn’t work. The kind, caring eyes of my fellow group members suddenly became judgmental (although only in my mind). My voice flattened to monotone. I fumbled with my script. I lost my place. I made every rookie mistake I thought I’d overcome over the years. It wasn’t my best. It wasn’t even my average. It wasn’t even me.

Ever have something similar happen to you?

As I headed back to my hotel room, head hung low, I couldn’t help but focus on the long list of things that had gone wrong and the opportunity it seemed I had failed to seize.

Then it hit me. I suddenly remembered the essence of the message I had attempted to communicate just moments earlier.  I am desperate for people to understand that their true worth comes from God’s love and nothing else. I was now in a position to live my message or be a hypocrite. Would I claim my identity as God’s precious and beloved daughter? Or would I continue to try to find my worth in my ability to perform and achieve? Would I rest in the reality that God (and my group members for that matter!) did not love or care about me any less because of this failure? Or would I only be satisfied once I had the approval and affirmation of others? Would I live out the truth that my value is secure in the love of my Savior? Or would I choose to chase value through worldly riches?

The former offered freedom – freedom to live boldly, love fully, and carry out God’s calling confidently. The latter seemed to offer only insecurity, disappointment, and anxiety. The former offered authenticity. The latter offered a shaky façade ready to crumble at any moment. The former offered relationship. The latter offered only isolation. The former offered community. The latter offered competition.

And so I made my choice…

I experienced 71 hours and 55 minutes of wonderful and 5 minutes of awful throughout the 72 hour conference. And yet I learned more in those miserable 5 minutes than the rest of the time combined. I have to live my message. I have to rest in the loving arms of my heavenly Father and trust that my worth and value are secure. I have to walk humbly in my own abilities and confidently stay connected to God’s strength and Spirit in me. I need to live like I really truly believe that His love for me is so great that He sacrificed His only son to be in relationship with me. That kind of love is not based on achievement or accolades or accumulation. It doesn’t increase when I do well and decrease when I do wrong. God’s love never waivers and never changes. God’s kind of love frees from prisons of performance and praise. God’s love changes lives, and changes the world.

Yes, I bombed. And it was beautiful…

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