My wife and I rarely fly. We don’t make enough money to be going on all kinds of trips all over the world. In fact, we had to save up for nearly a year in order to afford this trip to Vegas we just took.
So, being infrequent flyers, we didn’t expect so much trouble.
Each direction, we had a layover in California. Going up, our first flight was delayed because something on the plane was broken. This pushed us back onto a different flight into Vegas, but it worked out to only cost us a couple hours.
However, coming home, our first flight (in the evening) was delayed because of the storms in Texas, where the plane was coming from. This pushed us back to an early morning second flight bringing us home.
With not enough money nor time for a hotel, that meant my wife and I would stay in LAX overnight, with our luggage in lockdown, so no fresh clothes, deodorant, etc.
We did our best to sleep a little while here and there, but we didn’t get much. We did whatever we could to kill the time. Since it was overnight, all the shops and restaurants were closed.
With almost no sleep and a full day still ahead of us, we were looking at almost being awake for nearly 40 hours straight with only cat naps and Red Bull to sustain us.
Frankly, based on the airline experience during this trip, it was a disaster.
However, our time in Vegas was AMAZING! So many amazing shows, delicious food, and fun times. It was the best vacation I’ve ever been on in my life.
So, if I was blessed so much with the majority of this trip, why would I complain over a little travel trouble that really didn’t hurt the trip at all?
Because we respond negatively so much more easily than we do positively.
Driving to the airport that first day, I noticed I was in the wrong lane. I quickly tried to make a lane change, and I thought I had checked all the blind spots, but I accidentally cut a guy off. I did the little “apology wave” after his furious honking and even made eye contact with him and mouthed “I’m sorry.”
Of course, his response was typical. Middle finger and angry look, even after my apology.
Why would he do that? Because it felt good. It feels so much better to be angry and complain than it does to forgive.
On that first flight of the trip, we were at the counter with the gate agent who was working (with a STELLAR level of determination) to get us on another flight so we wouldn’t miss our whole first day in Vegas. While that was going on, the plane was being repaired.
After pushing back the departure time several times, everyone was upset, but one guy came up to yell at the gate agent, as if it was his fault, about the delays.
What did it get him? A card with a phone number to call and a lot of apologies from people who did nothing wrong (and in fact were doing EVERYTHING they could for those of us waiting).
And I wanted to complain too, but I did my best to hold it in and find the positives. Why? Because we’re supposed to.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
-1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV
I mean, what if they hadn’t caught the broken whatever-it-was on the plane before we took off? Or what if they had tried to fly through the storms in Texas? The planes could have gone down. People could have died. My wife and I among them.
I mean, yes, sometimes life just sucks. And God isn’t expecting us to not be upset. But he does expect us to pray. To be thankful for the blessings in our lives. To not take our anger out on others, even if it IS their fault.
He wants you to be who you’re supposed to be: A child of God.
So, I consider this experience a victory for my wife and I, since both of us do have problems with complaining too much, because we kept calm heads and cheerful, thankful spirits and made the best of bad situations.
And it doesn’t matter if your tough time is as small as spilled milk or as large as a strained marriage. You keep positive and things get better. If you give in to your anger, it may feel good in the heat of the moment, but it poisons your soul.
Matthew Coker is a Media Director at a church in his hometown, where he also is a leader at a Celebrate Recovery program. He’s a huge comic book nerd, Whovian, and Funko Pop Collector. Matthew and his wife live in New Mexico.