I learn a lot while flying on an airplane. Last time I flew, this post happened: HERE.

Photo Credit: Creation Swap user Suaz Carranz

Last time, I sat beside a couple of ladies that brought along hard-boiled eggs.

This time, I’m not sure it was any better. Here’s what I would’ve tweeted if I had had internet capabilities:

  • Gosh, I love kids, but seriously? Do you really need to scream the whole flight? And I know that you, mom, are trying to help, but yelling louder than the screams isn’t helping.
  • Did that guy in front of me just exhaust that whole bottle of Germ-x? Is he drinking it? I’m pretty sure my nose is now germ-free. And on fire.
  • I think the person behind me has passed enough gas to fuel the plane. This is bad…and I can’t go anywhere.
  • Truth: Snores are much louder on a plane. Something gets amplified when you’re that high in the air.
  • I got in “trouble” on the plane because I didn’t listen to the pilot when he said to put away all electronic devices. Apparently, a Kindle can take down a plane.

But I sat beside a couple of single parents and had a great time hearing a bit of their story and understanding who they are. We struck up a conversation about parenting, and they both have 16-year-old daughters. They were throwing ideas around for their daughters’ upcoming birthday parties, and I quickly felt out of my league. Partly because I have a 3-year-old son. Partly because they think much more extravagantly for birthdays than I do. I can get my son a $.99 matchbox car and he’s thrilled.

I also felt like a great parent after hearing their birthday suggestions. There were three that rose to the top.

Top 3 Birthday Suggestions from 10,000 feet

  • You could take your daughter to this make-up artist I know. She charges $400/hour, but it’s worth it. I go there every once in a while…
  • You could send them with their friends to Dallas. Dallas is a fun city, right?
  • You could send your daughter to Las Vegas for the weekend. I’m sure she’d love that. Oh, wait…do you think she should have adult supervision?…

It was at that point that I really started feeling like, though I often feel clueless as a parent, I am a pretty awesome dad. And I was reminded that common sense isn’t common.

Inevitably, all of my conversations on a plane end up coming back to a conversation about God. This one was no different. Both of these single parents grew up in church, but were burned for various reasons. I asked

Are you and God on speaking terms?

They were. But they wanted nothing to do with a local church. Nothing. “I like your God, but not the whole religion thing.”

So I got the chance to advocate for a ‘better’ Church. And I took the opportunity to show them that there are churches in America that aren’t burning people. Churches that are making a difference in their communities. Churches that are speaking Truth and hope and grace and mercy. Churches that are based not on maintaining programs, but investing in people. Churches where it’s safe to explore faith. Churches where you’re encouraged to come as you are.

As I’m sharing this truth with my two new friends, I was struck by the fact that everywhere I go, I’m a living, breathing, talking billboard for the Church. And if we (the Church) are ever going to overcome the perception that we’re just a group of judgmental, self-serving, stingy bigots it’s got to start with me.

You may not think of yourself this way, but you are, too. The conversations you have paint a picture for others.

Can we start painting a better picture? One that looks a little more like our Savior?

My new picture will look like this:

Be generous.

Be loving.

Be full of grace.

Be full of mercy.

Be the Church. 

*Photo credit: Creation Swap User Suaz Carranz