It was an overnight flight from Maui through Dallas/Fort Worth and ultimately to Champaign with three kids under 5 years old.
My husband, Trent, and I felt stronger about the opportunity for our family to mix work, ministry and vacation than we felt negatively about the travel with three young kids. So we signed up for it.
The travel there was seamless. The time on the island was dreamy.
The trip home? It was a lesson.
With severe thunderstorms rolling into Dallas/Fort Worth, our pilot communicated with an hour left in our flight that we might be redirected to Houston. For the time being, “Buckle up!” he said.
Thankfully, we did. We bounced and rolled off thick gray clouds for quite some time before we were told to prepare for landing in Dallas.
We attempted, but the captain deemed our descent too unsafe. He took us back up, and we circled a while longer as he let us know we’d approach from the other side of the airport, which seemed to have clearer conditions.
In the meantime, my 4-year-old son’s tummy got the best of him. I won’t expound, other than it was not pretty.
But here’s what was: Two flight attendants hopped up amidst the then-mild turbulence and jumped right in. Sure, it’s their job, but they went above and beyond. Paper towels and water and bags and hands that were eager to help.
They smiled at my son and reassured him it was OK.
We landed safely on our second attempt and made our way to Champaign, but apparently our luggage didn’t. When I opened up all of our luggage that was delivered one day late, it was soaked through. There was nothing of great value, although some things were ruined.
Immediately, I looked up the airline’s phone number. It was my first response to being wronged.
But do you know what wasn’t my first response?
To immediately pick up the phone upon touching down in Dallas and call about two flight attendants who had done everything right. And then some.
Why is it so easy to hold onto the wrongs and fight for our rights when we’ve been offended — but to forget so quickly the moments we’ve been extended unnecessary grace or over-the-top kindness?
How is it that transgressions stick while good deeds slip right through our memory?
While in Maui, my husband worked a basketball camp, and he told me about an activity the camp director periodically did throughout the day. He called it “spotlighting.”
The director randomly chose a camper and “spotlighted” him or her for something he saw them do that was good. That kid would then go on to choose a fellow peer camper to spotlight.
There is a lot of power in calling out the good we see in others. Beyond noticing, there is even greater virtue in acknowledging it.
We don’t have to learn how to complain. It comes naturally. We don’t have to learn how to look for the negative. Unfortunately, our eyes are well-trained for that already. It’s just so easy to point out errors and speak badly of others.
Finding the good is not as effortless.
Encouragement and inspiration seem to go hand in hand. As we encourage, we inspire. When we bring to others’ attention the good things they do, we are unknowingly inspiring them to continue to do more. As we acknowledge the skill, kindness and hard work of others, we can’t help but be inspired to be better ourselves.
The beauty of being an encourager is this: The more we look, the more we see. If we set our sights on finding things that are right, I bet we’ll find a lot more that is. Even in life’s most turbulent seasons.
We need more spotlighters in our world. Maybe you and I should be one of them.