The floor was not clean. Stretching my legs on the tile, I glanced up again at the screen above the check-in desk. My plane would start boarding in forty-eight minutes.
My gut gripped. First time flying alone. First time even in an airport alone. Well, not actually alone, but surrounded by strangers. A couple sat against the wall a few feet away. Rows of seats held clusters of people waiting—talking, eating, scrolling.
I drew my backpack closer and unzipped it, my fingers lingering on the canvas with hesitancy. My desperation for a source of peace outweighed my reluctance to label myself religious in the crowd. Removing my Bible, I found Hebrews chapter eight and searched for words of comfort to fight against the fear crouching in my periphery.
I read the prophecy given by Jeremiah hundreds of years before—the prophecy proclaiming God’s new way, His new covenant. His promise to give His people new hearts. His promise to come and live among them and be their God.
What a wonderful, hope-filled promise. Restoration for God’s people. Any other day, my heart would have soared.
But today I was in an airport surrounded by people with faces I didn’t recognize, with hearts I didn’t trust. Restoration for them? I didn’t even know them. Could my heart love these people like God’s did? I didn’t know. The question of love was no longer a vague idea. It was reality, opportunity.
This friction between concept and reality made sparks during the flight and throughout the rest of my summer in Fiji. It was a trip of discovering: life, really. The realities of concepts I’d only lived in my mind. Concepts like faith, love, sacrifice, trust.
Before, these were words I thought I knew. I talked about things like faith and love, but this trip gave me perspective. It revealed the state of my heart and mind: a discovery of myself. When I did not feel safe, would I trust God? When I rubbed shoulders with strangers, would I love them?
Now these words mean more than they once did. Now, they are experiences, memories, history. They are part of life. Part of me.