I sat myself down in the aisle seat, my tiny girl in my lap. Immediately her little hands set to work dismantling the seat back pocket and it’s contents and as any travel weary mother would, I let her. I took my time unloading our things and getting settled, quietly amused as passenger after passenger walked past our open row.
I’d learned many things as I began traveling with my girl, the first of which was that no one willingly chooses to sit next to a baby. She startled me, with her request for the window seat in our row. There were plenty of empty rows left and didn’t she see I had a baby with me? Didn’t she know I couldn’t promise her a pleasant flight, a peaceful reprieve from the chaos outside the walls of our plane?
Surely, out of all the other options, she wasn’t intentionally choosing us?
She was though. She was choosing us. She was choosing me and my girl, with all of our baggage, all of our flaws, all of our certain imperfections. She chose to extend kindness and compassion to that travel weary momma and got quiet gratitude and a few haphazardly placed Sesame Street stickers on her jeans in return.
With eyes that graciously said, “I’ve been there too,” she squeezed into that seat next to us with the unspoken agreement that she’d love to help.
I don’t know her name and she doesn’t know mine.
And isn’t that the most beautiful way it goes sometimes?
I wished her and her own babies well when she walked away, thanking her for her help. And under the lofty ceilings of that airport terminal, I couldn’t help but marvel at the joy it is to be seen and known and chosen anyway. To be chosen for our imperfections instead of avoided because of them. To be reminded of our Jesus and the grace He extends through the quiet kindness of a seat-mate.
These moments of favor are so easily missed when we won’t take our eyes off of ourselves. How easily we tend to disregard these interactions, to write them off as the fortuitous hand of luck. How easily we see brokenness instead of the victory, advantage instead of grace.
How easily we see the opposite of what we are meant to, because we are too busy focusing on all that is not.
I wonder if you, like me, need to start recognize that you’re seeing it wrong. That maybe, you’re so busy being blinded by brokenness that you can’t see goodness anymore. That maybe, there really is always something lovely to be found – and you just need to open your eyes.
Of all the places I’d choose to spend three hours with my girls, an airplane is probably (nearly) last on the list. But, today I am certain that the time I spent on that flight, wrapped up in the grace of sweet stranger, was three hours where I was exactly where I was meant to be.