But I Wanna Be Mission Control

10:03 AMHeather

I was breathing deep breaths, fighting back tears. This was it. This was the moment where my oldest son spread his wings as never before and took a huge step toward independence. I had teased him about a little baby struggling to walk at the gate just moments before.

"Collin, that's still how I see you. My baby. So, it's why it's hard to let you fly alone to Italy. But I know you are smart and resourceful and you've got this."

He smiled, and I knew he got the angst I was trying to explain.

So it was his moment. He handed over his boarding pass to be scanned and I leaned back to get that photo.

And that's when it happened. The gate agent saying something about picking up his second carry-on in Venice at baggage claim because it would be checked all the way through to the final destination since the overhead bins were full.

The panic of the next few minutes still makes my heart race. As I tried to remain calm and explain my son needed that bag gate checked so he could pick it up on the jet way after this first flight, before his overnight flight.

Sternly refusing my request, the gate agent just kept repeated, "M'am, our overheads are full. He has to check the bag." I kept saying no problem, but we needed it gate checked because it was packed with all that my son needed and wanted for his 8.5 hour overnight flight.

The man wouldn't budge. Collin realized this and began to frantically shove items from his small roller bag to his back pack. And that's when things went from bad to worse.

Because the gate agent began to raise his voice and admonish Collin to hurry up because they wouldn't hold the plane for him and they needed to go. I was still begging and pleading and explaining that my son needed this second carry-on for his second flight and he just needed it gate checked. But the gate agent was ignoring me by then and just yelling at Collin to hurry.

Collin lost his cool then. Which nearly never happens. I rarely see this level headed kid that rattled.  Then he began begging the gate agent himself for any other solution.

No grace shown. No compassion offered. Not one ounce of budging. They were not going to gate check that bag for anything and I couldn't understand why? This was not the good-bye and bon voyage my son needed or the way I wanted this to go. He somehow managed to cram all that he could into that backpack, grab me for a quick hug and try to compose himself.

As he walked away, I beelined for the gate agent.

"Timothy, please. I know you are doing your job and you have policies. I'm not angry with you. But I am begging you as a mom. You need to know that kid never gets rattled. For him to be upset like that is not normal. He's 16, on his first international flight alone for a two week trip. All he needed for that second long flight is in that second carry-on. I'm begging you as a mom. PLEASE let him gate check it! Please let him pick it up in Philadelphia when he gets off this plane."

I looked him square in the eye. As tears flowed down my mama bear face. And I saw his eyes soften.

"Holly," he asked his obvious superior, "can you please find a way for him to get that bag in Philly?"

She had watched the entire thing go down. She stood inches from us as I cried and my son cratered and our panic ensued and we begged repeatedly. And the only thing she had said thus far was to add to the frenzy of pressing my son to hurry.

She looked at him and said, "NO. We will not gate check this bag." Then she grabbed the bag and stormed off down the jet way, eager to get the plane out on time.

I even went back to her a few minutes later and begged again. When she wouldn't budge, I asked her to help me understand. Because I've never been refused a chance to gate check a bag when the overheads are full. We'd been more than two hours early to his flight. We'd followed all the rules. It was non-sensical to me. 

"We do not gate check bags unless you are first class. You should've paid for early boarding if it was so important for him to have that bag on the second flight."

Which still didn't make sense as they offered to gate check the stroller for the woman ahead of Collin.

How could I have known? How could I have foreseen this? I offered to pay any fee they wanted, do anything they wanted so my son could have his bag on his overnight flight. 

To no avail.

At first, I must admit, I'd have loved to share this story here, on this blog, for all the world, so that I can rat out the ridiculous policy and treatment of US Airways toward my teenage son.

I guess I just did that.

But really, something is shifting. Something big is shifting in me, and I'm telling this story truly to rat myself out.

To tell on myself and publicly admit that I have a huge problem that needs to be dealt with boldly. So, if I am transparent here--no matter how scary that is--maybe you bloggy friends can just hold me to it.

I have a huge need for being in control. I want to be in control. And I have a need to be treated justly and respected, which--duh--I deserve, after all. 


Have I mentioned that my word for 2015 is freedom? Here on this blog, I think I've said that about two or twenty times. Freedom. 

Listen, I envisioned a year of joyful abandon as I learned to lean on God's grace and walk and live with more freedom. What I didn't expect was how incredibly hard it is to be tasked with my own role in freedom. 

As I wrote in my prayer journal this morning:
"Freedom comes as I look long and hard at that which enslaves me. Seeing the chains of habits and thought processes for what they really are. Realizing that these things are not things I master but they are idols which master and enslave me."

So Sunday morning brought what felt like a disaster. But Sunday night brought our life group gathering as we discussed our pastor's new sermon series on idols. And I had to see my need for control and my demand for "fair treatment" for what they are--idols. Plain and simple.

Um, as one who professes to follow Jesus, how can it be any less than an idol when I think I am due treatment that my own Savior humbly accepted was not his to demand? Need for control? He said, "Father, not my will but yours." 

Fair treatment? Respect? What he deserved?

Even Pilate himself told the crowd that Jesus had done nothing to deserve death. But the crowd-- his own people whom he had served and healed and taught-- they demanded the death of Jesus and the release of the criminal Barrabas. 

Yet, I allow my own idol of self to lead me to the justification for a need for control and a demand to be treated a certain way.

And the idols are just all over the place in my heart and mind.

Ouch. I think this sermon series is going to be brutiful. Hard and convicting.

Yet freeing and ultimately fulfilling. To clear out the things that clutter and derail the very abundant life I was made to enjoy. Walking more freely and more surrendered to the One who surrendered himself for me.

And I'm learning something in these hard journeys. God knows how hard these things are as I seek to walk in more freedom, which means leaning in to some hard work.

So he deals with me gently, yet firmly. As he led me yesterday morning to an unexpected new Bible study series. I had planned to start a She Reads Truth study, but choosing the one entitled, "In Everything, Give Thanks" was not my plan. And I didn't want to choose it.

Obviously, if I did, it's because he's going to take me through something awful that I am supposed to say thank you in the middle of?

But I couldn't resist the urging. So I chose it and read the first day.

Who but God orchestrates a yucky gate agent experience with a sermon series on idols and a life group discussion and an online Bible study to speak gently to your heart exactly what it needs to hear during a season of crying for freedom?

I read Psalm 105, and saw clearly how God was weaving his story of faithfulness and ultimate good for the Israelites through the lives of people like Joseph and Jacob. 

I wrote:
"I must remember how He is weaving a beautiful, glorious story-- how he is at work in all circumstances. That I have no control and it is not up to me. His will is the stories he writes as I walk with him. My job is just to walk with him, to rejoice at the ways he's working, to look toward him, to remember his acts of faithfulness and to tell others about them. I must let him weave the hard things into things that show his goodness."

And then, this line from the She Reads Truth, which said to my soul exactly what it needed to hear.

"It is not up to you to be the god of your circumstances. It is for you to give thanks to the One who is larger than your circumstances."

Oh, yes, I wanted to be the god of my circumstances Sunday morning. I wanted to make those gate agents do what I wanted them to do. I was worked up and in a huff. Okay, I still am a bit because--hello, US Airways--it really was crazy.

But I can see now. It all happened and I can choose to be huffy about my unfair treatment and mad and demanding of justice.

Or, I can look to the one larger than my circumstances. And see that his heart for me is indeed freedom. He is my freedom song.

And he is singing over me to say this. 

Recognize the idol of being in control as something which is actually stealing my ability to trust and believe that HE alone is in control.

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