"He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly." Proverbs 14:29
On my recent trip to San Diego (I will post those pictures soon) I flew on Alaska and had an amazing experience. They did some of the most efficient boarding I have ever seen and got us to the gate 20 minutes early. I was very pleased about this and looked forward to the same experience upon flying back to Portland.
No such luck.
Originally I was seated in row 10 but my seat was switched to row 7. I thought this to be an improvement and would give me less people to high tail it by when exiting the plane so I could run to the shuttle bus and get to my car in the economy lot. My plane was scheduled to land at 4:30pm which is not a great time to be on the freeway in Portland. Not to mention I hadn't seen Derek in 5 days and was looking forward to spending some time with him before a dessert event (with ORFN - OHSU Resident Family Network) I had that evening at 7:30pm. Typically it would take about an hour to get home at that time from the airport.
Back to the row I was seated in....they started boarding the plane. Of course about 10 minutes late. This time from the back. Sounds reasonable. But then I started noticing how many people (like myself) had carry on luggage. Rows boarded 25 - 23, then 20 - 23, then 10 - 20!
I basically watched as the entire plane boarded in that last group, which I was originally supposed to be a part of. After that group boarded there were only about 10 of us left to board and as I reached the attendant to give them my boarding pass he told me they would have to check my rolly bag. (After going through extensive lengths to cram all my liquids into small bottles and force them into only one quart size baggie of course)
Needless to say I was angry.
I know I had no right to be angry but I was just the same. Especially when I boarded the plane to see people stuffing two bags in the overhead that could clearly fit underneath their seats. It just wasn't fair. I imagined having to wait 30 minutes for my bag, find a shuttle, be in worse traffic, and basically not get home until after dark. I tried so hard not to be mad, but couldn't shake the skin on fire irritation of feeling wronged.
Finally I began to pray. I knew I could not get out of my mood myself and prayed that God would get me out of this funk and over this very stupid situation that I shouldn't even be upset about in the first place. That was the worst part. I knew it was dumb to be upset at all. This is what comes with the territory. But I had an expectation that wasn't met and therefore became all crazy mad.
After sitting on the plane for about 10 minutes praying (which also meant we were getting even more behind for MY schedule) I felt a little glimmer of relief. The irritation had lifted slightly and I felt God put on my heart that I simply needed to CHOOSE to let go of this feeling. It didn't matter what happened or if I was super late or if my bag was the last off the belt. I needed to choose not to be irritated over the situation and instead be patient.
Patience is a funny thing. I have been praying for patience lately and I've heard the quote before, "if you pray for patience, God doesn't just make you patient. He gives you opportunities to grow in patience and become more patient."
So I realized this was an opportunity for me. I can foster anger or I can choose to grow in my patience. It was actually pretty amazing. The feeling literally dissipated and I was left with a total sense of peace and of total gratitude about how amazing God really is.
The rest of the flight I constantly prayed that I would remain patient no matter what time we arrived at the gate or what number my bag was off the belt. I kept feeling myself begin to pray (or beg) that my bag would come off early and that I wouldn't have to wait. Then I remembered that all of this is an opportunity to grow and I need to take advantage of this situation and be thankful and patient no matter what. I truly felt that way as I walked off the plane and towards the baggage claim.
I waited about 5 minutes before the baggage siren sounded letting us know it would start moving, and there on the belt, the very first bag off, was mine.
I was amazed. It was such an awesome feeling. But even better than that was the feeling that followed immediately. How great God is and that I truly felt I would feel the same peace and joy had it been the last bag. I stopped in my tracks, thanked God for blessing me even in my stubbornness, and also for the realization of seeing hardships as opportunities to grow in patience rather than foster anger.
And it continued to get better. I ran outside to see the shuttle pulling away from the curb. I ran, flailing my arms out in front of me, and the shuttle stopped. I hopped on to find only one other person aboard, and was at my car within minutes. I looked at the clock as I pulled out of the parking lot and it was 4:32pm. We had arrived early at the gate and I was leaving the airport only minutes after we were originally supposed to land.
Needless to say that although it's painful to grow, I am so thankful that our God is one who provides peace and wisdom. I love that he showed me a way to view irritating situations as positive opportunities. Regardless of any outcome; whether our bag comes out first or last on the belt. These situations in life are ones that I am going to continue to try and choose to let mold me into a better person and not let the irritations of life eat away at me. It's hard, but worthwhile. I know I will most likely fail more often than I succeed but when I do succeed at overcoming those feelings - it is awesome.