Despite being an extrovert, I really don’t like talking to people on airplanes. I’m not sure if it’s fatigue or my irrational anger toward those who order tomato juice, but I like to put on headphones and pretend that I am not sitting so close to complete strangers.
This Thursday, I had the middle seat next to someone who did not share my approach. Before taking her seat, a self-proclaimed "Southern belle" asked me how often I flew. This was only the second time in her 26 years of life and she was nervous. She asked what I did for a living. I answered briefly, "consultant for the Catholic Church." Her overly expressive face displayed a look of confusion as to what to say next. "Well, we all need Jesus, don’t we?" I nodded and smiled, suddenly aware of the other passengers beginning to listen. Even louder, she said, "Alright then, we better say a prayer to make sure we make it home." Looking straight ahead, I gave a polite chuckle in response. "Well go ahead," she said. The passenger on the other side of me was now unabashedly staring. I regularly give presentations to hundreds of people and I lead prayer pretty frequently. But, at that moment, I was embarrassed. Ultimately, I offered a simple petition for the flight and our nerves to be calm. While my travel companion thought I was asking God to calm her nerves – I was really asking for help with my own.
Disappointed in how I felt, I reflected about it the entire rest of the flight. Why was this situation different? How much of my daily experience might just be giving witness to other witnesses? What gave this young adult the confidence to invite a stranger to pray with her? And lastly, how many opportunities am I missing to share the peace of our Lord with those who may be afraid of more than just flying? After all, as my new friend said, "we all need Jesus." Blessings on the witness you can give this week.