*Written from my iPhone on a plane in real time.
I’m on an airplane headed to Ft Lauderdale for a work trip. Currently, I sit in the middle between two “seasoned” ladies. The one near the aisle is playing solitaire on her phone. The lucky one, who got the window seat, is reading a romance novel. (I was snooping.) I’m curious what brings them to Ft. Lauderdale, but decide to bury my curiosity and stick my nose where it belongs: in a book. I crack open my latest read by Shauna Niequist called “Present Over Perfect.”
More than once on this flight, even before take-off, the flight attendants announced that Southwest Airlines is cashless and will only accept payment by credit card.
I take a short snooze because, like always, being up in the air is my first real relief from the world I’m so always interconnected with. I wake just in time to have my drink order taken. The aisle lady, whose name I still don’t know, politely declines the offer.
“Coke, please.” I say when it’s my turn.
The window lady doesn’t look away from her romance novel, but orders a glass of red wine.
The attendant carries on with his duties to the next row of thirsty travelers.
A few minutes later, the red wine romance novel lady sets down her book, gets out her wallet and takes out five one-dollar bills.
She sets them on her tray table and then continues reading.
Immediately I’m annoyed.
Did she not pay attention when they said this is a cashless airline? Isn’t she aware it’s 2016 and cards are more convenient anyway? I don’t have the patience for this.
Oh, people like her.
I contemplate saying, “Excuse me, did you not hear them say they only take cards?” but decide she’ll find out soon enough when the attendant comes back and informs her of this policy himself.
I know. I shouldn’t care. It’s not even a big deal. It’s not a big deal that she didn’t hear when they talked about being cashless. And if she just didn’t listen, it’s really no big deal still.
As I sit with the whole thing a little longer, I am laughing at myself. Oh, Manda.
You see this is where I have to tell you that I actually thought something outrageously stupid the other day.
I have to tell you that I thought, “I’m really starting to be more like Jesus!” and I gave myself a big pat on the back.
The truth is, I am becoming more like Jesus. At least on paper and the occasional times I give grace rather than a sharp, angry word. But if I, for a single second, think I’m actually past my days of being unlike Him and human altogether—oh Huston we have a problem. A giant self-righteous problem.
Suddenly, the attendant comes back with her red wine and my Coke and just before it all goes down I lean over towards her and say in my most gentle tone, “They don’t take cash.”
“Oh!” she says and puts it away in exchange for her credit card.
No big deal. That was the end of it. Nothing more to that story. It would be way cooler if there were, I know.
However, there’s more to this story. (I’m right in the thick of it honestly, so please don’t ask me to expand or share how to get to the other side, because I can’t.)
I’m learning we can’t get past our old ways if they are our roots. We can fake it for a while maybe, but unless the roots change, we never will.
That means hard work and heart work. Am I even up for the challenge?
Our roots run deep and strong. Our roots dictate most of our habitual and subconscious thoughts and actions. My roots are impatience and easily annoyed. My roots think I’m somehow better than others. My roots cling to pride and selfishness. My roots are tarnished with sin and thicken over time.
But, while still laughing at the ridiculous monologue which went on in my head over the stupid cash, I realize how badly I want to cut these roots off. How I long to be free of that woman. The woman I thought was fully in the past.
I want to dig them up and cut them off so that new roots can take their place.
Maybe being aware of my ugly roots is the first step in digging them up. Perhaps choosing against my natural human tendency is the first step in cutting them off.
I have a feeling that, in a way only the Holy Spirit can, He’s exposing my ever-growing need for Christ and maybe that’s where the new roots begin to grow. In the place of confession and surrender.
I feel small again. Maybe the new roots grow in the place of dependency and smallness?
Here I am, thousands of miles high up in the sky, squished between a silent solitaire playing lady and a red-wine consuming romance novel reader.
I peer out the window, squinting from how bright the sun shines, and see clouds laying across the sky like a blanket of white cotton. I envision hopping around on the clouds feeling light and free. (I think Heaven will have playgrounds of fluffy white clouds. I can’t wait to break those in.)
I try to fathom what it’s like to never catch myself reverting back to roots of impatience, pride, or selfishness. I don’t think that day will ever come here on Earth.
So in the meantime, I thank God for using my ugly roots to keep me codependent, small and humble.
And I realize that the only way to set things right in this life of contradictions— where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different— is Jesus.
I pray for new roots, roots so deeply rooted in Him. I am certain He’s at work already.