Today I woke up at 4am to catch a flight to Philly. As I’m sure you can imagine, it was a fun time.
Got to my gate... realized I forgot my headphones in the car. First time ever. Wonderful. When I’m traveling, I rely on my headphones about as much as I rely on air to breathe. (Okay, that may be a little dramatic, but you get the point.)
My flight was only an hour, so I thought I‘d at least be able to make it through the flight with some coffee. Got coffee on the flight and—not kidding—it tasted just like cigarette smoke smells. I don’t know HOW in the world I drew that comparison, but it’s the first thing I thought of when I took my first sip. Lovely.
Then, after I picked up my bags in baggage claim, I sat down at a table next to a snack stand. For some reason, the woman behind the counter couldn’t have been more irritated with me. She began cleaning all the tables and seats, asking me to get up and move around all my stuff so she could wipe down my table and chair. Don’t really know why she didn’t seem to enjoy having me there... let’s just give her the benefit of the doubt and say she was having an off day. ;-)
So there I am. Tired, no headphones to listen to podcasts, music or to at LEAST block out the noise of the airport, an annoyed store owner two feet away from me, and—oh, that’s right—8+ hours of being stuck in this airport before I could head to the retreat center I’m playing music for this week. I decided I’d just take an Uber to a Panera near the retreat center and do some work for the next million or so hours.
Cue my Uber driver, Frank. After this morning of fun, I just wanted to sit quietly on my phone and make it to Panera. I’m usually super social, but I just really wasn’t in the mood this morning. (Sure, my morning wasn’t absolutely horrible, but we’re all allowed to have our moody days, right?) But Frank, a friendly, rough-around-the-edges Philly native, started asking me questions about myself and why I was visiting. I asked him a few questions too, and ended up getting to learn a lot about his faith life (and so many other things). He then proceeded to offer to take a detour so I could drop my guitar and suitcase off at the retreat center before heading to Panera, so I wouldn’t have to awkwardly lug it around all day. How kind. I told him he didn’t need to do that, especially since that’s definitely not usual (like... whatsoever) for an Uber driver, and he’d be wasting time and money, but he insisted.
We arrived at the retreat grounds, which turned out to look more like a college campus than anything. Huge and confusing, with all of about two people around to ask for directions. Nobody seemed to know much. Frank walked around with me from building to building, trying to find out where the check-in desk was so I could ask them to keep my stuff for the day until I returned. We did that for FIFTEEN MINUTES. Frank and I walking around the campus cluelessly. The whole time, I thanked him and said we could just head to Panera because I didn’t want to waste any more of his time. He insisted that he wanted to find out where I could leave my luggage until I could check in later on so I would have an easier day.
We finally (praiseee GOD, hallelujah!) found the building where I could check in, but of course, no person behind the desk. Frank ran off to find someone that worked there and spent another 5 or 10 minutes until he found someone for me to talk to.
Thankfully, she let me keep my guitar and suitcase behind the desk. (Can you imagine if she didn’t let me, after ALL of that?!) So, after a 35+ minute detour, running around trying to help me find out where to drop off my stuff, Frank finally drove me to Panera, laughing about how confusing and absurd the whole experience was. Not as simple as he thought it was going to be. But as many times as I apologized and thanked him, he just smiled and said he’d have rather been helping me today during that time than anything else, insisting it was no problem.
In a matter of an hour, I went from having a not-so-great day to one of the sweetest I’ve had in a while. All Frank was obligated to do was drive me to my destination, but he instead ended up wasting 35 or 40 extra minutes with me just so I could have a slightly less difficult day today.
It made me think. We often have this idea that being a good Christian means making gigantic sacrifices or doing HUGE heroic things. But most of the time it’s not. Frank reminded me of that. In his mind, he didn’t do anything grand, yet his above-and-beyond kindness, and the joy he exuded while showing it to me, turned my whole day around and refreshed my soul. You might have come to read this blog post thinking you were going to hear a story about some amazing, out-of-this-world thing an Uber driver did for me or shared with me. But that’s just it…it may not seem amazing at first glance, but it’s an amazing story to me.
After about the first ten minutes of walking around the retreat grounds, trying to find the right building, Frank said he’d once learned at a retreat that when a situation (like simply trying to find the stinking front desk!) turns out to be more confusing or harder than expected, God always has a reason for it. And he said he knew there was a reason for our situation becoming so hilariously ridiculous. A reason that we were doing this together. I agree. God changed and humbled my heart today through Frank. I want to be more like him... his small act of kindness shined boldly with Christ’s love. Something I genuinely needed to feel today. And I won’t forget it.
So when you worry you need to do great and marvelous things to be the kind of person God calls you to be, remember that’s the case only about 1% of the time. The other 99% of the time, small things done with great love can and WILL change lives little by little. Frank understands that more than most, and I want to, too.