By design, airlines often overbook flights to fill the empty seats that no-show passengers leave behind. The math behind the scenes involves a no show rate, physical capacity and authorized capacity. To some it’s an inconvenience. To me it’s often an opportunity.
Sure enough, last week’s flight was overbooked making my seat a commodity. With a rather decent voucher in-hand, I made an unexpected journey to a distant airport and soon discovered this was my intended flight. The shuttle driver and I conversed along the way. As I shared my agenda to help a friend going through chemotherapy for breast cancer, he opened up about his sister’s recent fight. It is the unfortunate truth — everyone knows someone.
I landed in the middle seat. A woman sat down to my left and then another woman motioned for the seat to my right with cell phone pressed to her ear, and tears rolling down her cheeks. Once we reached altitude I took a leap of faith. Touching her arm I said, “I don’t mean to intrude, but I can see you’re grieving. I’m sorry you are hurting. I don’t know how, but please let me know if I can help.” There at 30,000 she began opening up about the untimely death of her sister. It had come as a shock … and the shock-waves were still running through her.
“They will lay hands on the sick and they will recover.” The scripture rang through my mind with entirely new meaning. Our hands are meant to serve in love, to touch others when words aren’t enough or simply not fitting at all. To help heal from the inside out. This was clearly an appointed time to be still, to be SILENT and LISTEN. And, this young woman needed me to take a leap of faith at 30,000 feet. I had voluntarily given up my seat, shuttled to another airport, landed in the middle seat of an airplane I had not even booked — all for a reason.
My leap of faith was a practice run. Going to be with my friend weathering chemo, not knowing what to expect, “took guts” she later told me. The grieving woman in the seat to my right had uttered those same words.
“Who does that? You just reached out to help me through pain,” she said. We have all heard it said, you are not alone in feeling these feelings. They are quite common. Feelings are meant to be more than verified. Those who hurt need to “experience” our words of compassion. Our hands and our hearts must reach beyond the all-too-familiar words. My prayer on that plane and in the week of caring for my friend and her family was simple. Use me God. Show me how to help the hurt.
Grief is a process, and not one to be rushed … or hushed. Sometimes we can’t see where we’re going; we have to take a leap of faith and simply keep moving. As we deboarded, I was hopeful she had absorbed my compassion and felt more comfortable to let grief happen.
Don’t push; healing comes slow with lessons all along this road through loss.
No more than when I boarded that plane, I didn’t know what I was getting into, yet I said, “I’ll come. I will help you and your family through this 1st round of chemo.” I knew I was intended to be there, like an appointed leap of faith. Fresh lessons of 30,000 feet coincided with every other choice I’ve ever made to love them through it. There are clear reasons to not keep quiet (I wrote about that in my last post).
Sooner or later, grief will hit your home. Let’s not focus on what wasn’t done, or on the should’ve, could’ve, would’ve. Let’s just be the change we wish to see in the world. Be the one to help another; sooner or later grief is coming your way.
Use me God. Show me how to help the hurt.
P.S. My friend responded well to my “healing” gifts. The essential oil foot massages, recipes full of super-foods (cooking is my other love language!), inspirational faith-filled words exchanged, and mostly time spent listening and loving. Blessings have a boomerang quality, leaving us 1000-fold more blessed than any leap we take.