The Ministry of Mom Rest, My Ugly Cry, and Airplane Prayers
I boarded the plane for my five and a half hour flight from east to west and took my seat in row 31, seat D. I'm usually a big fan of the window seat because there is nothing quite like getting lost in the horizon is there?
Give me all the above cloud heavenly views, where Jesus speaks peace and power over creation, and I'm pressed in nose to the window.
Since I would be flying into the night and for so many hours, I decided that the aisle was the smart option.
I said all the prayers about having a kind lady to sit next too - specifically older and chatty.
My heart was anticipating sitting still for half of a day and a never-ending supply of Coke over ice all to myself. I had some thoughts about how I might spend my time in the air, but then felt weird about "planning" out my down time.
Why is relaxing so complicated? Maybe because I don't honestly know how.
I put in an order just before boarding for a Margarita pizza (because that sounded edgy and perfect for a plane-cation) and made sure to stock up on a few snacks I don't buy on a normal day - like a king sized Carmello bar? Yes please.
A giant box of Junior Mints also made their way into my carry on, and I was ready to enter into my mom retreat called "a flight from N.C. to WA".
Time to breathe and not have anyone else to care for is a Mother's lottery.
I waited until the last-minute to board and then made my way past the business men reading the paper, the parents with the unhappy baby already stressed, the unruly toddler climbing over the seat before take-off, and all the way to the very. last. row.
I tucked my carry on under the seat in front of me like a good passenger and shoved my pretty large pizza box under as well, trying not to make a scene out of my picnic dinner for one.
It was in that moment that a kind (elderly) lady leaned over and said, "Hello. What do you have in there?" She looked concerned and maybe a bit suspicious.
I smiled and replied, "A pizza, all to myself - but I'm happy to share it with you!"
Giving her the "I'm nice and not weird" smile, I thanked God for swift answer to my nice - older lady prayer petition.
I leaned over to my new 80 something year old friend and said, "Looks like it's me and you bringing the party in the back tonight!" I began to tell her all about my family.
We chatted off and on for the first hour where she told me how she was a teacher back in the day, and how she became a concert pianist thanks to her mother who gave her the option of chores or piano practice growing up. She always chose piano - and it paid off.
Maybe THAT is how we get our kids to be amazing musicians and artists?
She had recently fallen down 17 concrete stairs which made playing impossible.
A pause came in our story telling and I took that as my chance to watch a movie because I honestly couldn't remember the last movie I watched in its entirety without falling into deep sleep. Since I've never slept on a plane...I figured I had a fighting chance.
About halfway through the movie I glanced over at the widow across the aisle to see the most stunning sunset on the horizon. I mean - it made me gasp a little too loud, "OH MY WORD THAT IS AMAZING!".
This is when my friend shot straight with me.
One who felt like her gifts had been removed for a time, was being used by God to remind me of His personal interest in me.
I was on the edge of tears watching the hot pink blaze across the clouds out that airplane window when she looked at me dead in the eye and kinda shouted (because hello LOUD engine raging in the back)...
"THAT'S FOR YOU." She spoke it with a confirming nod of her head.
I barely got out a "thank you" before the crying started.
I'm not talking a couple tear drops to brush away. I mean full on ugly cry with the eye makeup, river of mess - and y'all, I could not stop it and I didn't care.
She just watched me with an assuring smile, as if she knew I needed to hear it.
There was something about a stranger, the answer to my prayer - speaking such solid truth on an airplane.
Since our party in the back turned into a therapy session - she thought it would be nice to introduce herself.
"I never asked your name. I'm Gail, not a very popular name now but it sure was a long time ago." I replied with, "And I'm Jenny, and so glad I sat next to you tonight."
Preparations to land interrupted our conversation, but not without Gail telling the flight attendant that she had made a new friend in the back row. I had to agree.
That is when Jesus whispered, "That was for you too."
I accomplished nothing noteworthy that evening. No lengthy journal entries, no reading to speak of, no planning for my homecoming, and certainly no deep thoughts.
What happened on the plane across the aisle from Gail that Sunday night was just the ministry of rest that I needed.
To rest in Him and the beauty He lays before me, always grows a stronger connection to my God than any list of "important" stuff I could cross off a list.
Maybe God wants to surprise you with more than you ask for? Go ahead and whisper your hopes and stand by for Him to say, "That's for you". I know He'll do it.