Bill and I were recently on a flight headed home to Detroit when a woman seated a few rows behind us declared she wanted off the plane just as we were about to take-off. And, by take-off, I mean we’d left the gate and were taxing down the runway at a pretty good clip. All the safety instructions had been given, cell phones set to airplane mode, passengers settled in for a routine trip, and flight attendants seated and buckled in for take-off.
As we scooted down the runway, this woman stood. A flight attendant asked her to be seated and buckled, but she calmly declared she had an emergency and wanted off the plane. As one flight attendant notified the captain, another tried to persuade her to be seated and continue with the flight. She would not be seated. She remained standing and repeated calmly that she wanted off the plane.
The plane quickly slowed down and came to a halt. Now other passengers were aware of the situation. As the woman continued to stand and quietly repeat she wanted off the plane, moans could be heard from other passengers. Frustrated comments about being late or missing connections swirled all around. Cries of disbelief could be heard. Some brazenly criticized her loud enough to be heard. Others shouted offers of Xanax. The flight attendants were obviously annoyed. Tempers flared as a warm plane grew hot sitting on a steamy Florida runway.
And, through it all, she did not budge. She had made up her mind and would not be swayed. She wanted off the plane, regardless of what anyone else had to say. She stood ram-rod straight as the plane turned around and headed back to the gate. And, as flight attendants escorted her off the plane, she held her head high.
As they opened the door to let her out, a flight attendant announced that we would have to wait for her luggage to be retrieved from the cargo hold. That generated heavy sighing and louder groans. Through it all, the woman did not flinch. No sideward glances. No last minute jabs. No haughty attitude.
It was at this point that I became thoroughly impressed. What guts. This woman was no coward. She had determined her course of action, she took that action and she stood her ground.
She did not allow the bold, glaring stares of the other passengers influence her. She didn’t let the jeers of the crowd intimidate her. She did not let the persuading speech of the flight attends persuade her. She did not let the thoughts or opinions of two hundred peers sway her. She was determined. Her mind was made up and nothing was going to keep her from getting off that plane. And most importantly; she was calm, kind and humble. That’s bravery.
This woman inspired me. I want to possess that type of bravery. The kind that stays the course when everyone else thinks I’m crazy. The kind needed to hang on to my convictions when everyone else doesn’t understand. The kind that is unmoved in the face of opposition. The kind that doesn’t topple from the pressure of my peers. (who are we kidding – yes, adults greatly suffer from peer pressure) The kind that advances forward with directions from Abba when nobody else hears what I’m hearing. Unwavering. Unshakeable. Resolute.
And I want to do it calmly. As I follow Jesus, I don’t want to create drama. I don’t want to be known as a “drama queen”. I don’t want to wear out people by constantly sucking them into a vortex of drama. But, as I live out my convictions, I am going to offend people. It’s not my intent, but when you carry Light into the darkness, feathers are going to be ruffled. Being calm in the face of adversity helps preserve relationships and keeps the drama factor to a bare minimum. Ecclesiastes 10:4 (NCV) says Remaining calm solves great problems. That is wisdom!
I want to do it in kindness. Just because someone disagrees with me and the stance I take doesn’t mean I need to hurl insults or use the Bible as a weapon (the Bible is the weapon to use on the enemy – not people). Like this woman, I want to be firm and unmovable but display the fruit of kindness as I do it. Ephesians 4:31-32 (NCV) Do not be bitter or angry or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others. ….. Be kind and loving to each other,…..
I want to do it humbly. I don’t want be prideful or arrogant as I live out my convictions. I don’t want to be haughty just because I am a daughter of the Creator and King of the universe. I never want my partnership with Abba to puff me up. I do not want to let selfishness or pride be [my] guide. Instead, [I want to] be humble and give more honor to others than to [myself]. Philippians 2:3 (NCV)
I’m so glad I was on flight 892. And it was worth landing late.