At 1 a.m. this morning, I made it home from a three-day trip to Missouri. While in Missouri, I was surrounded by lush green trees, rolling hills, and Midwestern compassion and kindness. Because of the large storm cell over the Midwest yesterday afternoon, I spent quite a bit of time at the airport in Springfield, Missouri trying to get home. The airport is very small. It only has 10 gates and 1 restaurant. The man who checked me in at the check-in counter was the same man who took my ticket when I boarded the plane. While the airport is small, the hearts of the people who work there are big. Literally every single person I interacted with was kind, polite, warm, and made me feel special.
“How could that be?” I asked myself. My usual airport experience makes me feel like I’m an irritation to the airport workers, even though I do exactly as I’m told and follow their instructions.
One Delta gate agent at the airport in Springfield, Missouri really impressed me. She was gracious and kind toward everyone. Some of the requests of her passengers were a bit high maintenance, but she always responded with warmth and love. As I sat and observed her kindness and energy, I envied her. I wanted to switch places. I wanted to be the sweet gate agent working in a small airport in such a beautiful and quiet place. I imagined what life would be like for my husband and I if we lived there in that quiet town.
Over the last year, I have felt the selfish and critical attitudes of those around me affect my happiness. I live in a busy place, where a lot of people (myself included) suffer from what I call “Center of the Universe Syndrome.” I see it as people cut others off in traffic on my daily commute to and from work. I listen to it as I overhear people have conversations criticizing the actions or beliefs of another. I read it on my apartment complex’s blog forum when people berate the apartment staff for the fact the fire alarms went off accidentally. We keep ourselves so busy that I think we are blind to our selfishness.
After returning from Missouri late last night, I followed the signs at Dulles Airport to the taxi stand. When I got to the taxi stand, a man approached just a few moments after me. He pretended like he didn’t see me and positioned himself directly in front of me so he could get the next cab. We were the only two people in line. I felt sad as reality hit me that I’m back; I’m back to a place without the overall warmth and grace I experienced the last three days in Missouri.
So, what I am going to do about it? I am going to be an agent for change in my own life. I am going to live a life that allows me to focus less on myself and more on others by working harder to be kind, to be warm, and to live life at a slower pace. Perhaps I needed these three days in Missouri to remind me to be less selfish and more gracious.
I know there are jewels of people here where I live who are just as kind and gracious as that Delta gate agent in Missouri – like the man on the metro this evening who offered his seat to two women standing nearby. The warmth and grace may be harder for me to see at times, but it is there. I need to look for it and emulate it.
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