My second worst nightmare in my aviation history came true yesterday.
My worst nightmare? Of course, a nose-diving plane. But yesterday, though the plane stayed aloft, I was pretty sure my nerves might crash. All on account of my neighbors—25C and 25E.
Convinced I am the first half-human on the planet with a giraffe as one parent, I tuck my insanely long legs in front of my teeny-weeny seat and begin to fret when I experience my first close encounter with Miss 25E by the window—a young woman who does not want to talk. She keeps her extra-large earphones firmly in place except when she lifts them long enough to hear me say, “Wow! They really have us packed in here like sardines.” She smiles and snaps me off for the rest of the flight with her extra-large earphones. I realize with dismay that my words probably weren’t wise given that Miss 25E with the extra-large earphones happens to be extra-large herself.
Why, oh why do I SAY these things?!
And then, to make matters worse . . .
My not-so-spiritual self says in my head, “How the hell am I going to survive this flight?”
Is it just me or do others hate touching strangers? And this stranger can’t put her armrest down because she needs to use one-quarter of my seat. That leaves me three-quarters of my seat. My phobia about personal space rears up and I feel my giraffe-legged self turning into a prickly pear with sharp barbs on the inside instead of the outside, which would be a lot more helpful to me in my current situation.
I take a deep breath. I coach myself. In coach class.
You’ll be ok, really. After all, you still have three-quarters of your seat left. Your seat is three-quarters full of you. Try to think nice thoughts about your neighbor. Try to think nice thoughts about this airline who, for the sake of profits alone, refuses to grow their seats to accommodate the ever-growing American.
Along comes my second neighbor.
He lifts his suitcase into the carrier above my head, baring part of his extra-large belly in my face. Nice. Like I really wanted to know that hair actually does grow around a navel, and an outie one at that.
Perhaps his seat is behind me? Or in front of me?
He sits himself down right beside me, on my left. Mr. 25C raises our armrest and I, the one cross-bred with a giraffe, begin to think that maybe, just maybe, I’ve been cross-bred with a greyhound also because I’m feeling horribly too skinny and I have a sudden urge to run really fast.
Then I think . . .
Why NOT me?
What makes ME so special that I think I deserve a comfortable seating situation where I do not have to touch strangers?
Actually, I was able to rattle off a few reasons rather quickly.
My sassy self answered back all smart-alecky . . .
You PAID for a full seat so you should GET a FULL seat! And you should get half an armrest on BOTH sides so you don’t have to TOUCH two people you don’t know or even want to know, at least not in a touchy-feely sort of way. And, furthermore, Miss 25E has an extremely offensive odor emanating from her armpits.
It’s a completely full flight.
So now what am I going to do?
I take a deep breath. Through my mouth. To by-pass my olfactory bulb—the center of smell. And I exhale. Through my nose.
Breathe in. Through mouth. Breathe out. Through nose. GOOD! You’re doing GREAT! Keep concentrating.
My breathing exercises last me until just after take-off.
Then the panic sets in.
I’m STUCK! I can’t move! I can’t breathe! I can’t get out! I’m going to DIE!
So what does this giraffe/greyhound hybrid do when finding herself on the verge of wanting to jump through the emergency door one row ahead of her?
She finally calls for assistance.
No, she doesn’t press the overhead button to summon the flight attendant. She goes straight to the pilot.
She recalls some wise words found in his book—the flight-for-life manual . . .
Be made new in the attitude of your minds . . . put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness . . . we are all members of ONE BODY (emphasis mine) . . . do not give the devil a foothold . . . do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs . . . be kind and compassionate to one another . . .
How can I do all this—at 30,000 feet—when I’m being SQUISHED and SUFFOCATED?
Well, I figure that if Jesus can resurrect bodies and souls, surely he can change minds, breathing fresh thoughts into stale (and stinky) spaces.
I confess my thoughts—all about ME. I ask Jesus to help me think differently—like HIM . . .
Renew my mind. Help me be kind and compassionate, even in my thoughts. Help me consider my neighbors’ needs. Oh, and while you’re at it, will you please anesthetize my olfactory bulb until I get off this plane?
Well, I’d like to say that I experienced instant deliverance from coach to first class, spiritually speaking. I didn’t. I had to discipline my mind during the whole flight.
One moment, I felt saintly . . .
Oh, look! I’m doing it! I’m flying high on saintly thoughts (not recognizing that such thoughts are not saintly).
Then, a sudden nose-dive . . .
ANOTHER whiff! Gag me! And why, tell me, must I keep my elbows tight to my side while an airline makes money at MY expense because they haven’t YET figured out that MOST Americans are NOT my size—with giraffe legs and a greyhound body?
I’ll admit, it was a rather bumpy ride for me at first. But to be a DISCIPLE of Jesus means to DISCIPLINE the mind—to develop the mind of Christ which will then affect our behaviors and feelings.
Jesus tells us to “count the cost” of being one of his disciples.
The cost? Far more than an airline ticket for coach class.
The cost? Nothing short of letting Jesus transport us from one place to another—from Self binds to Savior mind.
Our destination? The place where our spirits soar free wherever we are on heights not possible without the gracious wings of our Savior.
Scripture excerpts from Ephesians 4:17 – 32