This was becoming a familiar sight on my return trip to Australia. I'd been in Canada visiting family for three months, and was now making my way through California to visit a friend, then onward to the Land Down Under.
At each step along the way I faced delays. A few different factors aligned to create this interruption prone journey: an impending snow storm in eastern Canada, Christmas and New Year travellers heading home throughout the US, plus the busy Australian summer holiday season winding down.
It's about the journey, not the destination
I don't think many people would sympathize with the notion that it's about the journey, not the destination when they fly. The whole point of this form of transportation is to get somewhere far, relatively quickly. Yet during this trip my destination felt further away by the hour.
Check. First revelation: I needed a lesson in patience.
I'm impatient and I want to reach my destination, whatever it is, now. I was witnessing it first hand while I waited in yet another queue – this one three hours long just to check my luggage.
We read in James chapter 1 verse 4: "don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way," (Message translation). I knew I needed to work on patience in something simple like waiting at the airport, just as much as I need to in other areas of my life: relationships, calling, or self-disciple.
Get to know your travel companions
As I looked around at the faces of my fellow travellers, many looked annoyed. Others avoided eye contact or were absorbed with their mobiles without recognizing that there were indeed real-life humans sitting right beside them.
Check. Revelation number two: It's important that I shift attention away from my own situation to get to know the people with whom I'm sharing my life.
Whether that was other travellers who I might only know for a few hours, or my family, housemates or work colleagues, I know I need to invest in getting to know other people.
C.S. Lewis wrote, "Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival." While I likely wouldn't become life-long friends with my fellow airport dwellers, getting to know them would make the waiting that much more bearable.
And so, I met the mid-twenties social worker who had grown up in California and was now heading back to Idaho where she'd secured a job in the school system. I also chatted with the 60-year-old man who was commuting for work between the US-Midwest and Northern California, and the perky 18-year-old who clog dances for fun and writes internet search engine ads full time while attending college.
By the time I finally touched down in Australia I had a string of unique stories to tell, and not just my own. If I had spent this travel time wishing it would go by faster I would have missed out on getting to know more about myself and more about the people around me.
I'm left with a challenge now: will I take these lessons with me even when I'm not stuck in an airport terminal? I hope so. I hope that I'll enjoy the moments of everyday – even the trying ones, and be freer to let people add their personalities to my life. I think it'll be worth the trip.
Lisa Goetze currently serves full-time as a volunteer missionary at Youth With A Mission Brisbane. In her former life, she wrote for two national news shows in Toronto and Ottawa.
Lisa Goetze's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/lisa-goetze.html