Big Mess, Bigger Blessing

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big mess post

Can a big mess become a bigger blessing?

You bet.

When a person does even a small act of love, people notice and God is glorified. Read this story of author and pastor’s wife Sharla Fritz, who got caught in the big mess at O’Hare airport in Chicago with her elderly mom. All flights were cancelled due to arson in a control tower. Here’s her story, first posted at her website. Used by permission.

Sometimes we wonder if the act of one person can really make a difference.

Then we experience the mess caused by one man in the basement of an FAA radar facility and know it does. But how can we make a positive difference?

A while back my mother and I got up at 3:00 in the morning to catch a 6:10 flight to visit my sister in Florida. We excitedly boarded the plane. Everyone took their seats. The crew shut the airplane door. We were off to Florida.

Or not.The pilot came on the intercom, “Sorry folks, there’s been a delay. A fire has been reported at the FAA building in Aurora which controls the airspace over Chicago. We’ll have to wait a bit.”Ten minutes later our flight was canceled and we joined hundreds of other people in Chicago airports trying to reschedule flights.As time progressed we learned more facts. One lone employee of the radar facility in Aurora had decided to “take it out.” One small act of fire and destruction had grounded two thousand flights and a multitude of passengers.The day wore on and it became clear that my mother and I were going nowhere. The airline canceled all of its flights for the day. We couldn’t even go back home because work responsibilities prevented my husband from picking us up until 3:00 in the afternoon. And so we sat in the stiff chairs at Gate 21.

A Big Mess Conversation

As we were waiting, we struck up a little conversation with the couple sitting across from us. Roger and Susan were trying to get to a nephew’s wedding in San Diego. Some small talk revealed that Roger worked in the same city where I live and that our homes were only about ten miles apart.

After hours of standing in line, Roger was able to reschedule their flights for the next day. They were getting ready to head back home when Susan—who had overheard our plight of having to wait at the airport—offered to let us share a cab. I was hesitant to take advantage of these people I had just met, but they insisted. Susan even took us the rest of the way home in her car.The whole experience reminded me that one small act can have an enormous impact.The insane act of one man halted thousands of flights around the country. People all over the country missed important business meetings, precious family weddings, and even a little sister time. One act of destruction sabotaged the plans of many. 

A Bigger Blessing of Grace

But one act of grace made a big difference in my day. The kindness of two strangers helped my mother get out of the uncomfortable airport chairs and back to my home where she could rest her arthritic back. Their small act of compassion meant my husband did not have to fight Friday rush hour traffic—a huge gift.

I asked myself if I would have done the same if I had been in Susan and Roger’s position. Would I have sacrificed the time it took to drive someone else home? Would I have been generous enough to make the offer to share a cab? Would I have been able to step out of my own problems long enough to even be aware of someone else’s needs?

Seeing how the effects of one small act can make a big difference, I am motivated to make some changes. I think we can all practice little acts of kindnesses more often if we are willing to make minor alterations in our lives.

3 Big Mess Lessons

1. Don’t overschedule. The incident at the FAA radar facility left us with time. We were all planning to be somewhere else, but those plans had been obliterated, so we were left with unscheduled time. Too often I pack my days so full that I don’t have time to stop and help someone. I’m planning to leave a little more empty time in my calendar.

2. Pay attention. Susan and Roger took note of our dilemma. Even though they had a bigger problem—missing an important family event—they cared enough about two total strangers to listen to their troubles. Often I’m so caught up in my own difficulties that I don’t notice the hurts of others. I’m going to ask God to help me be more aware of the needs of the people around me.

3. Be generous. After I thanked Susan for her generosity, she said, “Don’t worry. It all comes back to us a hundredfold.” It’s something I don’t always remember, but it’s true: In giving we always receive.One small act may not always change the lives of thousands of people. (Maybe that’s a good thing.) But a small act of kindness can affect the life of one person in a big way.(P.S. I never did get to Florida. Oh sigh.)

Join the Coversation

How has a big mess become a blessing in your life?
photo credit: jamie-brown-stag-do_15.08.2010_0518 via photopin (license)

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