I left Washington D.C. amidst rain and arrived in Orlando in a thunderstorm.

I was grateful to get out of D.C. before another torrential drenching. I’ve sat on too many tarmacs waiting for storms to pass.

Rain on both ends.

As we approached Orlando, the captain came on and told us we’d be in a holding pattern for awhile. We flew over the ocean and  down to the Palm Beach area, avoiding lightning and turbulence.

People weren’t happy. Connections were missed. Plans went awry. Folks waited at the airport with no understanding how long the wait would be. As much as people wanted to blame someone, the weather could have cared less. Storms happen.

When we were finally given the go ahead to approach and land, everyone cheered.

Until the captain came back on and informed us it would be at least another twenty minutes. Many planes had been in a holding pattern and needed to land. Someone else was at our gate.

That did it. An older gentleman across the aisle from me unbuckled his belt, got up and retrieved his bag a few rows back. Which encouraged a woman in front of him to do the same. Neither bag fit under the seat. Trying to disguise the bags with coats didn’t work.

One of the flight attendants had watched this and came back to have a discussion with the gentleman. She informed him that the plane couldn’t move forward without all bags being stowed and him sitting in his seat, seatbelt fastened.

He got a little feisty. Asked what would she do if he didn’t; throw him off the plane?

I was impressed with her calm demeanor. She quietly explained again that the plane couldn’t move forward until he’d followed the rules. He’d comment back, and she very gently would repeat the rules.

He didn’t want to have to go back and put his bag away. She offered to put it up front near the exit so he could retrieve it as he left. Then she addressed the lady in front of him and took her suitcase to store up front as well.

Which brought an outcry from many who wanted their bags up front to pick up as they left. Did disobeying the rules get preferred service?

When we finally deplaned, I made my way to the flight attendant to remark how impressed I was with her patience and grace, how she’d treated the complainer with respect.

She smiled and thanked me.

I’d been the one blessed by her selfless behavior. A reminder of what kindness can do.

How often do I find myself acting like I’m entitled to my plan? Too often. Life never falls into neat lines and spaces–it’s messy and chaotic. When something ruins my plans, I have two options. Complain or be grateful for the chance to become more like Jesus.

God never promised a life free of discomfort, pain or loss. He speaks more in the Bible about suffering than about joy. My nature is to want what I want in my timeframe.

It’s not always about me.

Seeing possibilities in the mess just might produce a rainbow of hope in the storm.

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