I called the previous post Interrupting Inconvenience Part 1 so that makes this one Part 2! At the time I was thinking about the amount of travel I was about to do and how my mindset oftentimes changes from praying for safety to praying for convenience.
For example, just a few months ago my sister was flying to Texas to visit a friend and before she walked out the door, all 6 of us (plus Bella) formed a circle in the kitchen. We prayed for her safety as she flew alone for the first time. We prayed there would be no yucky complications like lost luggage or cancelled flights or bad weather. And then she was on her way.
How many times have I prayed for those things? A lot. No one likes traveling complications or spending one minute more than necessary in an airport or on a plane. No one wants to land in Sydney, Australia after days of travel only to discover your luggage is back in Dallas. Thankfully, she got to Texas and back on her own with no troubles whatsoever, but that isn’t always the case for travelers.
For me, traveling can be a tiny bit stressful (understatement of the year). There’s so many unknowns and so many “out of your control” elements. You can show up 4 hours early and still have no control over a cancelled or delayed flight, bad weather, or even long security lines.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to travel. I love packing up a bag and I love flying and I love new places. I think I mainly get caught up in the stress of traveling when I’m alone though, because I know that the pressure of getting from point A to point B rests on my shoulders and mine only. No one is going to redirect me if I start heading toward the wrong terminal or read my gate number wrong. No one can watch my bags while I run to the bathroom or grab a coffee. On the other hand, traveling with relative or a friend is all kinds of FUN because now there is two pairs of eyes and two brains at work.
But in those moments when I do have to travel alone, and I’m circled up in my kitchen with my family, my mindset gets a bit strange. Underneath the label of “praying for safety”, I let my stress add in some prayers of its own.
- I pray that there are no flight complications. (Sounds like praying for safety.)
Because I really don’t feel like waiting around in an airport for hours on end.
- I pray that there’s no flight complications. (Sounds like praying for safety.)
Because that would be a major inconvenience to my schedule for the day.
- I pray that the weather is good for the flight. (Sounds like praying for safety.)
Yes, so the plane doesn’t crash but also so I have a chance to nap.
- I pray for no smelly people or crying babies near my seat. (Doesn’t really sound like praying for safety now.)
Because that really challenges my patience that is somewhat non-existent on already long flights.
- I pray for clockwork efficiency in security lines. (Definitely doesn’t sound like praying for safety.)
Because those are hectic, long, and annoying since people are high maintenance and unprepared.
Are you getting the theme here? I’m no longer praying for safety, and instead I’m praying for convenience, comfort, and annoyance-free travel. Instead of asking God to keep me protected regardless of whether or not the situation is safe or convenient, I’m asking for mindless, easy, comfort-bubble travels. My motivation is misplaced.
Praying for convenience and comfort is not the same thing as praying for safety.
I’m saying: “Okay God, this trip is going to be 21 hours door to door and that is really rough on me as it is. So, do me a favor please and don’t go about letting anything get complicated or annoying or uncomfortable because I’m already stressed, exhausted, and stiff so I really just need these 21 hours to be interruption-free. We cool?”
I’m marking myself unavailable to God by making it all about me and what is easiest for me.
How many “Yikes” are slipping out right now? A lot.
Right about now is when I get what I call “the eyebrows” from God. You know, the look a parent would give a 22-year-old who is spouting a bunch of whiny 5-year-old demands. It’s raised eyebrows that say something like, “Seriously? Are you hearing yourself right now?”
I get “the eyebrows” from God on a frequent basis. I get twinkly eyes and laughter at plenty of times too, but this one definitely gets me some eyebrows.
Because when I type out all that here I can hear how self-absorbed, victimized, and whining I sound and this BEFORE I’VE EVEN WALKED OUT THE DOOR.
I’m saying, “I hope none of your invitations to do cool things with me and create fun stories with me look like this, this, or this, because if they do I’m already saying no.”
Because here is the thing: One of the ways God gets our attention is through slightly (sometimes REALLY) uncomfortable stuff.
We rarely ignore those things that thoroughly pet our peeves so sometimes if God really wants to get our attention, He will go ahead and raise His megaphone with a cancelled flight and a 4 hour re-booking line.
I’m not saying that God enjoys the idea of making me uncomfortable or providing awful travel experiences, but He values our relationship more than my comfort zone and convenience.
I miss God in this so often. So often. Because I have made inconvenience and discomfort the villains in my story. And if they are marked as villains in my story, I will not recognize any of the times they are really glittering invitations from the hand of God. When they are really Jesus in disguise, walking right into my story with me,
I have this funny habit of asking God for adventures worth writing about from the comfort of my hobbit hole. But then, when it is actually time to go on one, I’ve got a list of exactly how everything needs to be that’s about 10 miles long. And usually the only wiggle room I leave for Him to show up is a free upgrade to first class. That is an acceptable surprise in my travel itinerary.
And since God knows how I’m much more interested in sleeping horizontally and being antisocial with my headphones in first class rather than actually inviting Him into the itinerary, I have a feeling that free upgrade isn’t going to be His invitation of choice to get through to me.
One of the organizations I love working with has a tagline that says, “To the world from here.” I love that. Because there are so many times I’m too focused on getting “around the world” and not enough focused on “from here.”
There’s no skipping ahead.
There’s no, “Let’s just block out these 21 hours as unavailable, okay God?”
It’s just, “Here. I. Am. Send…me.”
I’m right here. And right here is where I’m tired. And right here I’m sort of stressed that I’ve read my ticket wrong even though I’ve read it 532 times.
Right here I’m also a little worried that the lady on the speaker might announce a flight delay for an hour, then 2, then 5, then cancelled, and I’ll be stuck in airport limbo forever. Or maybe she’ll call me to the desk and inform me that England is no longer allowing 22-year-old girls with curly hair and coffee obsessions into the country.
The list could go on.
But right here, my hair is frizzy. Right here my shoelaces are coming undone since I tied them up lightning fast to not block the security line.
But I am right here. And I know that He is here too. And if I let that sink in, I’ll remember that He’s the best airport organization person there is. The best pilot there is. The best weather coordinator there is. Not to mention the Sovereign Ruler of Everything for All Eternity.
He’s seen all the flight updates, even if I haven’t yet. He’s known exactly how long that line is going to be and how it affects my ability to get places on time. He’s familiar with Atlanta traffic patterns, even if it is a Saturday morning on 85 South.
He’s God. And I am not.
And with that in mind, I think I can be a bit more up for any plans He has in mind for the next 21 hours.