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The Calming Power of Service

I have been flying a lot for the past few years so I usually have the option of choosing seats pretty close to the front of the plane. Well, this past weekend we flew to a family camp with our daughter-in-law and two granddaughters. We were pretty sure they were going to be restless so we chose seats in the back of the plane. Pam sat in the same row with them but I had an aisle seat in a different row with two young people who were flying without their parents to visit relatives. They were a brother and sister named DJ and Savannah and they were both pleasant to be around. For most of the flight they were only focused on themselves and were restless. The plane ride lasted 2 hours but they had to go to the bathroom five times. They kicked the seat in front of them six times that I was aware of while they raised and lowered their tray tables every five minutes or so. The lady in the window seat in front of them gave me the evil eye a few times as if to say, “Can’t you control your kids any better than this?” They then felt the need to get up to hand the flight attendant their trash but not before spilling soda on themselves. Because I wasn’t their parent, I found this all very amusing.
Then a transforming event happened. I offered to hold my youngest granddaughter. As soon as I sat down with her, DJ and Savannah’s focus shifted.
“What’s her name?” they asked.
“Callan,” I said.
“How old is she?” they wanted to know, probably because they didn’t know what else to ask.
“She just turned one.”
“Can I hold her,” Savannah asked.
I placed Callan in this 10 year-old’s lap and everything calmed down. She was captivated by everything my granddaughter did. She was responsive to anything my granddaughter needed. She pointed out what she saw outside the window. She talked with Callan curiously waiting for whatever response she might get. DJ also watched with rapt attention to everything Callan did. He talked with her as if she was going to magically start talking back to him instead of pointing and saying, “Uunh, uunh.” For about 30 minutes, there was no kicking of chairs, playing with trays, going to the bathroom or squirming in their seats. Serving another person calmed them down.
It was a powerful lesson for me of the benefits we gain when we choose to focus on others and seek to serve their legitimate needs. A new appreciation rose up inside for two verses that have been important in my journey. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4) “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” (Mark 10:43)
I like it when things are calm. I just never put it together that I could create calmness in me by serving others.