Last summer, Randy and I were flying from Philadelphia to Seattle after a delightful week of family fun in Ocean City, New Jersey. We arrived at the airport, checked in our bags, then took our place in the long lineup for security. That’s when things got tense.
“We should be in that other line,” Randy complained. “This line isn’t going anywhere fast.”
I countered with the fact that the “other” line was for inexperienced travelers and families with small children. We didn’t qualify on either account.
“Well, it’s ridiculous to wait when we could’ve been through security if we’d gone in that ‘other’ line.”
Anger simmered inside me. Why is he being such a jerk?
When we finally made it through security, we bought coffee and pastries. We looked for a seat in the restaurant, but it was packed. Right outside, a row of comfortable-looking seats awaited us.
“Perfect!” Randy made his way over to the handicapped seating.
“We can’t sit there,” I said. “It’s for handicapped people.”
“Fine,” he said with disgust. He picked up his bag and walked briskly toward the gate, leaving me behind to grapple with a too-heavy carry-on bag.
I fought back tears. I’m not going to cry, I told myself. A vendor on the concourse took pity on me and showed me a way to manage my bag more easily. I took a deep breath and kept walking.
I wanted to lash out at Randy, to lecture him about his rude, abusive behavior–not at all typical for him. When we reached the boarding area, I considered sitting as far away from him as possible. I imagined the stony silent flight back to Seattle.
Then I remembered a book I’d been reading…How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong by Leslie Vernick. She talked about how learning to respond rightly when we are wronged takes maturity and wisdom, developing the character of Christ. Not easy, especially in the heat of the moment…especially in a crowded airport on a marathon travel day. But according to Leslie Vernick, someone needs to take the more mature position and respond correctly.
I had a choice. I could extend grace to Randy or I could put up my defensive walls. I had been mistreated. I could take the superior position, insisting on my rights, or I could choose to defuse the situation with a loving response.
My hand weighed a ton as I lifted it and placed it on Randy’s. I smiled. I acknowledged that we were both exhausted. Long airport security lines are never fun and usually frustrating. He managed a smile and mumbled something that sounded like sorry.
The rest of our 16-hour travel day felt peaceful. (We live several hours from Seattle!) We showed more patience and understanding toward each other. A day that started out miserably had turned out well. And I had learned through the experience.
Grace never ceases to amaze me.
When have you experienced the amazing effects of grace in your marriage?