Care Capsule

Change Myself,
Change My World

—— Rhea Zakich

I boarded the plane and found my window seat, put my pillow against the window and breathed a sigh. Now, I could go back to sleep after rising at 4:00 a.m. to take this early flight from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh for a speaking engagement.

A young mother and little boy were trying to get settled in the seats behind me and I heard her trying to explain to him why he had to be strapped in his car seat. He was not happy and he began to cry and kick the seat in front of him, the one I was sitting in.

OK, I thought, I can wait until he settles down to get my longed-for sleep.

But it didn’t let up. He cried and screamed and kicked until Mom got out every toy and snack she’d brought to keep him busy for the 5-hour flight. As soon as he would finish his cookie or drop his apple, he’d start kicking again. My seat would move about 2 inches with every kick.

This went on for 2 hours during which time I rehearsed in my mind what I would do if that kid were mine. I even imagined a conversation with the mother who kept trying to placate him with candy and toys, even allowing him to play with the phone and tray.

I would tell her to quit spoiling that kid, and I’d tell him in a stern voice to shut up! I won’t say what I wanted to do with his legs that seemed way too long for that car seat!

After 2 hours of stewing and feeling victimized, I heard the mother say in a nasty voice, “Quit kicking the seat! That lady is getting mad! She’s going to yell at you!” I wondered if my vibes were reaching them.

Then it occurred to me there WAS another way! I asked God to show me how to deal with the situation. This is what came to me:

  1. Quit thinking about myself.
  2. Think of the child’s feelings of being “trapped.”
  3. Think of the mother’s frustration and inability to quiet her child.

Suddenly, a wave of compassion came over me and I realized how embarrassed she must feel. Since the seatbelt light was off and people could now move about the cabin, I decided to “confront” them in a way I thought Jesus might.

I stood and turned so I could see them. The little boy stopped and stared, probably expecting me to scold him (or swat him). Instead, I smiled and said, “Hi there. This is a long ride, isn’t it?” After a few seconds of trepidation, he smiled a big smile. His mother, who had made me out to be a wicked witch in her attempt to quiet him, looked away, until I said to her, “I used to travel with my little ones. I know how hard it can be.” A pathetic smile came across her face.

I called the boy’s attention to the white billowy clouds out the window and he seemed to calm down.
I looked at her and said, “I hope you get some rest on this trip.” (We still had another 2 ½ hours to go!) Her face melted and I felt her relax.

When I sat down, everything had changed. I felt good. I put my pillow back against the window and realized I wasn’t even sleepy.

I thanked God for the joy I felt from a shift in consciousness – from worrying about myself to thinking about others. I had a choice! I could change a scenario. I can choose how I react or respond. The whole world seemed brighter. Everything in the universe seemed to shift. What power we have when we seek the mind of Christ!

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