I think the hardest thing God has ever asked of me is to live peaceably with all men. I tend to spin out at the slightest inconvenience. I’m working on improving at that, with the help of my Creator, but there are times when it’s so hard not to completely lose my cool and get snippy when things inconvenience me. Sometimes He has to nudge me back onto the straight and narrow in very specific ways.
Such was the case when preparing for a flight to visit a friend recently. Upon arriving at the airport, we found that our flight was delayed for two hours. As time ticked by, I had what space-rogue Han Solo of Star Wars infamy would call “a very bad feeling about this.” As the hours passed, my tension grew and peace slipped away—a phenomenon compounded when the plane arrived only for the attendants to call those of us with a layover to speak with them.
Not five minutes before this happened, my phone buzzed. One of my best friends sent out a Tweet encouraging her followers to do something nice for themselves or others, and post a selfie of it. I was too flustered to think much of it, brushing it off for later. “Yeah, I’ll do something nice for myself, like get a cookie on the plane…”
Little did I know, that was a seed. Over the ensuing half-hour of standing in line, being told we’d miss our connection, and plenty of back-and-forth with the attendants and then my travel companions while we decided what to do, I had a strong sense of the holy spirit moving in me. Watering that seed, if you will. Finally, the decision was made: we couldn’t make the trip. Distress hit peak heights, the tension headache was starting—
And then I saw her. A harried desk attendant, a little snappy with us, who was now leaving her shift. The moment I watched her walk away, I felt that nudge from God: the tweet. Do something nice for others.
I chased her down and thanked her, and her demeanor shifted at once from annoyed to grateful. It turned out, she was dealing with her own peace-stealer too: she had to be up and at work in a little over five hours. She and I weren’t in such different straits, after all. And all weekend, I couldn’t stop thinking about what had upset her, and upset me, and all the inconveniences of life: a missed flight. A traffic jam. A burned dinner. Most of the time, these are inconveniences. Not world-ending. Not insurmountable odds. But we let them steal our peace so often.
What if we didn’t? What if we did our best to make peace with the people creeping into our merge lane at the last possible moment? With the airport attendants who are just doing their job? With ourselves when we mess up the recipe, or our significant other when they make a mistake with our hearts? What if we prayed for them instead of snarling out of earshot? What if we didn’t sweat the small stuff, but made peace and amends before we ever lost our tempers?
Jesus had so many chances to lose his cool and make a scene. But he made peace instead. Because, after all, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
The next time something (or someone!) infringes on my peace, I know I’m going to think of that airport, and that woman, and how we made peace with one another. How doing something good for someone else cured my irritation that night. And how the Great Teacher encourages me to make peace always, because the alternative just perpetuates the cycle of annoyance and prevents me from being my best for him.