Breaking Out of the Bubble, by Jennifer Harrelson

My family and I recently flew to California to visit my parents. I have flown dozens of times in my life, mostly between the ages of 16 and 22.  From 15-hour overseas flights to 17-seat planes that needed to stop for gas after 45 minutes—I’ve done it all.  I can’t even recall all the flights I’ve taken, but I can remember the excitement of finding out who would sit next to me and the conversations that might take place. I have many fond memories of friends that I’ve met on airplanes over the years. Each was like a God-ordained meeting; sometimes ministry took place, and other times it was simple conversation and shared stories. Where else are you forced to sit next to a stranger for a long period of time? You may as well chat!

My most recent flight, however, was very different. Apparently, a lot has changed since I was 22. I was amazed to see that every seat back had a personal touch screen TV along with various ports and outlets for technology. Passengers could follow along with the flight path by watching the screen’s animated map. Most people, however, chose the “Entertainment” button. This included a variety of free TV episodes, video games, and movies that are still in theaters. You would have thought that the man across from me had won a small lottery when he realized that one of the movie options was a certain Star Wars installment. By the time the snack cart came around, each passenger had been offered a free snack, free drink, and free entertainment. What more could you want?

As I looked around mid-flight, it seemed that almost everyone was watching a movie or engrossed in his or her own laptop, iPad, etc. They were in their own little bubbles. Who would want to leave the comfort of his or her own private bubble to interact with a stranger? Even if there were a brave soul who dared to break the headphone barrier and actually speak to someone, wouldn’t that someone be annoyed that his or her entertainment had been interrupted? I realize that this is probably what people want— individual screens and free movies.  I agree that it’s luxurious and enjoyable; however, it makes it really difficult to interact with others.  As I pondered it, something about this bothered me. Maybe it’s the fact that it mirrors an aspect of everyday life. It can be easy to go about our lives rushing around consumed with our own needs, activities, and schedules with little regard for others. I think life is so fast-paced and busy that it can be difficult to leave room for others. It’s like each of us is encapsulated in a private universe.  I wonder if living like this makes it difficult to “let our light shine.”

St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” Many times it IS necessary to use words. Yes, some will see how we live and be pointed to the Lord by observation. God can certainly use us in this way, but sometimes God places us in another’s path for a reason…even if it’s just for a moment. God has an army of Christians spread out all over the world intermingled with unbelievers. Who will share His love with them if we are too distracted by life? I think we need to do our best to be aware of the Holy Spirit, listen for His prompting, and be on the lookout for God’s divine appointments.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” Romans 8:1— This word is not meant to bring guilt or condemnation, but rather a reminder:  Remember to put on love, leave room for the Holy Spirit, and when necessary, talk to strangers. :)