What’s in your pocket?
My Uncle Don is an adventurer, a helper, a problem solver and a hoot. He and my aunt retired years ago from law enforcement jobs and have been on a grand adventure ever since. They trekked across Australia in an RV for 6 months in order to see the country and get to know the people. They are exceptional at making friends. They spent part of their retirement working at campgrounds where he would fix what was broken while she worked hospitality and welcome. They volunteered with the Red Cross in New York after 9/11 and worked security at the Atlanta Olympics. They have left significant fingerprints on our planet…good ones.
In 1991 they joined a tour group to Russia. At the end of their trip they found themselves in the Moscow airport …snowed in…no flights out…stranded along with hundreds of others from all over the world. Bathrooms were ill-equipped to handle the mass of people and so were “disgusting and unusable.” Unlike what we are accustomed to today in major airports, there were no restaurants and the few small kiosk markets that existed were closed. Everyone was miserable, tired, hungry, uncomfortable and very unhappy. Bodies were strewn over chairs, floors and one another.
My aunt and uncle live by the philosophy that situations like this are not inconveniences but opportunities. This isn’t just a bumper sticker or tag line for them, they really do live it. Uncle Don always carries balloons in his pockets. “You just never know when you’ll need them.”
So on this captive snow-bound day amid the hundreds of disgruntled and miserable adults and children, Uncle Don began to walk through the rows of people. He blew up a balloon then pinched the neck of it to slowly let air out in a high-pitched squeal. When he had peoples’ attention he blew up the balloon again, tied it off and hit it into the air. “People cannot resist keeping a balloon from hitting the floor.” Once that section was busy with their balloon he walked to another section and repeated the process. Ultimately he had about 10 balloons in the air. People would jump up or bat them around and soon most of these unhappy and even angry people were laughing and working together to keep their balloon aloft. Kids who had been lying on the floor or whining were now squealing with delight and chasing these colorful bouncing joy-bringers. A simple, extremely cheap novelty item changed everything for a sea of international travelers stranded in an overcrowded snowbound airport in Moscow, Russia.
There was plenty of reason to be upset, angry, disgusted and worried….but they didn’t have to be. You get to choose how you will respond to the stuff of life. My Uncle Don lives this way. He and my aunt have formed pickleball clubs in every city where they’ve lived in the last 20 years. Why? To gather people for fun and connection.
When you show up, whether to a party or a problem, do you feed the anger, sadness or discomfort, or do you bring peace and joy. In your own life are you prone to assess the quality of your life solely by your circumstances or by where you can choose gratitude? Do you move thru life with your pockets filled with kindness, patience, grace and such? If you do, there will always be plenty of opportunity to use them.
Its as easy as making a choice. Its as simple as approaching the circumstances of your life with the intention to bring goodness to it. It can be as simple as a balloon.
Matthew 5:9 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
James 1:2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.
Proverbs 12:20 Deceit fills hearts that are plotting evil; joy fills hearts that are planning peace!
Philippians 3:1a And that’s about it, friends. Be glad in God! The Message
Philippians 4:4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!