The best gift you can give someone is grace. It’s free, and will last them not just this year, but their whole life.
As the busiest traveling season of the year is upon us, I thought I would share a little story that happened to me just about a month ago.
At the airport. People coming and going, hurried, rushed and stressed. I cannot help but feel a tinge of anxiety every time I get ready to walk through the security line or board the tiny plane.
It is no wonder most people walk around with their ear plugs in or open their laptops to catch up on Facebook or twitter. We want to feel connected in a place of total strangers. Especially when traveling alone.
This last time I was with my daughter. I was anxious to get on the plane smoothly and not have her fussing and bugging everyone around us. I had my stroller set up- diaper bag backpack on, Lillian strapped into her car seat, snug in her travel stroller, and my boarding pass in my pocket. I had my plan. All I wanted to do was get on the plane, get a good spot, and worry about my daughter.
That is when I noticed her. Traveling alone, like me, but with a baby a bit older. She was a young mom braving the airport. She had no stroller, so she had her baby on her hip. A large diaper bag barely hung off her shoulder, and a giant blanket was dragging behind her as the baby barely hung onto a corner of it. I knew what that might feel like and instantly wanted to talk to her. I was nervous about it though…what if she wanted to be left alone or thought I was some weirdo.
I started some small talk, asking her how old her baby was, commenting on her babies’ beautiful red hair… then let her know she could sit by me if she wanted. Wait, what did I just tell her!? I remember instantly feeling like a fool… now would she sit by me out of obligation, would we have to talk the whole time, what if she didn’t sit by me, would I feel rejected? Oh well, I put it out there. She didn’t say anything in response.
So we boarded the plane. Sure enough, she sits next to me. I will never forget the faces of the business man and women behind us as we took up the seats in front of them. Sheer terror. Almost comical. They are just babies, people! So there we sat. Lillian in her car seat, myself in the middle, and Mom and baby next to us almost squished into the aisle.
The babies started squealing with delight, and making those shrill screams that are cute only to the parents holding them. Oh, oh what had I done?! We should have split up and made this easier on everyone.
However, the babies calmed down and loved looking at each other. Our conversation was not at all contrived or forced. Rather, I was intrigued by this loving young mother and her baby. We talked about life, our kids, and despite our age gap had much in common. My heart ached for her as she told me she was new to a big city, with no friends, and with a young baby. I know how hard that is because not too long ago I was there too. Yes, she has some family here, but sometimes you need friends that are in your place in life, too.
I felt like a freak asking for her phone number, but I felt like I needed to. I felt some strange connection to her. See, I have a passion for working with young moms, and knew I could help her connect with others out there just like her. I wanted so bad to invite her to Bible Study but was scared out of my mind to. So I did. And she was happy I did!
Fast forward to her joining me at a Younglives Bible Study, a full day of cookie making and baby play dates, and a dinner she invited me too and we have become friends. Her mother in law almost cried telling me how happy she was her daughter made a new friend, someone she could take the baby out with and just have fun. Her boyfriend and I have met several times, and I have loved getting to know her sweet family.
God showed up on that airplane that day. He wanted us to meet, and he made a divine appointment for us that we didn’t even realize.
I love being reminded that even in this busy and disconnected age we live in, God still has us cross paths with people we are meant to befriend. People that need our friendship and love at that moment, regardless of race, age, ethnicity, or status. People that we need for healing, help, and love. This has happened to me too often to disregard as fate or chance. I have met some of my best friends in the most unlikely of places, and I know it is God behind the scene pulling the strings.
See, I had been praying for a friend just like her. And God, with his great love and perfect timing, introduced me to her in the wildest of places- the airplane.