Over the holidays I traveled from the Windy City to the Rocky Mountains and made the monumental mistake of bringing a snow globe in my carry-on bag- a gift for a family member. I wasn’t thinking about “liquid content.” I was just thinking that if I packed the thing in my suitcase, it would undoubtedly break.
Needless to say, it was confiscated which was annoying because: 1) The snow globe wasn’t cheap. 2) It was Christmas- so obviously I was bringing a present and not sneaking on a shiv.
The most obnoxious moment, however, was when I tried to snap a photo of the globe before handing it over. (I wanted to at least show my family member a pic of the gift.)
“Ma’am you can’t touch it.”
“Why can’t I touch it? I bought it. It’s mine.”
“You need to take your hands off of the snow globe. If you don’t, we’ll have to escort you back through security.”
This is when I might have gone a little bit overboard.
In my book Overcomer: Breaking Down the Walls of Shame and Rebuilding your Soul (Zondervan, 2015), I tell the story of losing my cool after a nasty cashier reprimanded me for not properly buckling in one of my kids in the shopping cart at a grocery store. I felt really bad that day because of how I treated her. She was wrong, but I responded wrongly too.
I don’t think we should let anyone walk all over us. But I do believe sometimes angry people are responding out of their own woundedness. And even if the wound is unfairly projected at us, we can show them grace and kindness. After all, that’s what I believe Jesus has done for me.
But not that day at the airport.
On that day, I quaked. I volcanoed. I tornadoed.
I literally yelled, “MERRY CHRISTMAS TSA!” while gesticulating wildly and storming off dramatically. All the while, my poor husband and kids were off to the side watching my meltdown, and the agents were saying, “Ma’am, please don’t get mad at us for simply doing our job.”
“Well, your job stinks,” is what I should have said. (I always think of catchy comebacks like ten minutes too late.) Then came the tears. Bawling on the moving sidewalks. Bawling at the airport Starbucks. Bawling on the runway. Bawling on the flight.
The truth is, I’m on a new medication for a disease I was recently diagnosed with, and it might make me slightly more moody than usual. I would have been annoyed by this situation no matter the drugs, or lack thereof, but this was like Aubrey 9.o.
Sometimes we have these ugly, broken, angry moments, and more often than not, we have to step back, hold them in our hands, and shake them up like that snow globe in order to see what settles—which parts are worth focusing on? Which parts need to fade away?
I’ve decided to keep the part of myself that got angry. I’m okay with getting angry when I’m mistreated. But I’m letting go of the part of my anger that was controlled by the medication. The part of my anger that is, when I’m willing to admit it, more about my shame over this disease and less about annoying moments in the airport.
If I can be kind to others who respond out of their own woundedness, I can also learn to be kind to myself. To show myself grace. To proclaim with the psalmist, “Those who look to God are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. No matter the scenes they cause in public.” (I added that last part.)