Hard to Smile

We just got back from our trip to Atlanta to see Luke Combs and Eric Church. We had a great time and the show was excellent! We made a little mini vacay out of the trip by making it a long weekend (Friday-Monday). While riding on the airport tram a thought crossed my mind as I reflected on the people we encountered on our journey… smiling became tough for me over the past few days! I mustered up a smile for the pic below, how could I not at such a great concert with great company!

It’s amazing the paradox you can experience from one moment to another when strangers are in the mix. When you’re on a trip you get plenty of experiences with people in the hospitality and service industries. You really cannot escape said experiences, as you’re continuously thrown into them as you navigate Uber rides, airports, flights, restaurants and hotels. I started thinking back about the people we encountered over the long weekend and realized the vast spectrums from polite to rude, from negative energy to positive and from happy to seemingly sad.

I would have a hard time highlighting everyone we met over the weekend. What I can tell you is how much I picked up on others’ energy. What’s hard about this is not letting negative energy impact me in the moment. Why is it when I come across another who is sad, rude or full of ego, the negativity seemingly tries to latch on and protrude through me? When others act from a place of ego my ego wants to respond. Someone is rude and I take offense. Someone ignores me and I let this impact my worth. Someone is upset and it bothers me. I wish this wasn’t the case!

Over the weekend we had a few great experiences with people. The gentleman we sat next to on the flight to Atlanta was going to visit his daughter at a small college in Alabama. You could tell he had a zest for life. Britt and I were partaking in an adult beverage and he said “you can have mine.” I was intrigued and asked why he wasn’t drinking, despite being in the priority section that offers free drinks. He said he couldn’t. He proceeded to tell us he had brain surgery and wasn’t able to have alcohol anymore. The other thing I noticed about him was how he was always laughing and smiling. He had a spirit full of life that was infectious. He walked up and said hello as we boarded our flight home. He was on our same flight back too! Britt and I both enjoyed chatting with him. He’s the kind of guy you want to root for. He’s the kind of guy you respect. He’s the kind of guy that can bring your energy up. A guy who survived brain surgery with a zest for life- imagine that!  I prayed for him- that he keeps his zest for life and his health!

While we had other encounters that left us saying “wow she was really nice” or “what a nice guy,” we had many more that left us scratching our heads. I find it sad that we’re actually surprised when another human being is pleasant. Our trip had a plethora of encounters with rude individuals. Thank goodness Britt and I end up talking each other through these experiences. One of us will get frustrated and the other is pretty good about bringing clarity and light to the situation.

One example: a server was extremely rude to us because before we sat in her section we ordered a drink at the bar (we were watching football on Sunday before the concert). We only sat in her section because it was a community table and a gentleman who was sitting there had two open seats that he no longer needed, so he was kind enough to invite us to join. We sat for nearly thirty minutes before we finally asked someone who our server was. She finally came up to us and boldly declared “you guys either need to order from me or order from the bar, but you can’t go back and forth.” We literally had to calm her down she was so visibly and vocally frustrated. She couldn’t have been frustrated at us considering we had only ordered from the bar while waiting for a table. We didn’t once walk up and order after we sat down, which is besides the point and really shouldn’t matter. Perhaps this young lady’s defense mechanism after intentionally or unintentionally ignoring us for so long was to become confrontational while pushing the blame back onto us. We were taken back and quite frankly almost left. Yet we realized that her actions are most likely a result from much deeper issues she’s dealing with now or a result of conditioning from her past. Most likely she gets loud and confrontational when she’s “in trouble” or when someone is “upset” with her. I assume this stems from childhood. Watching someone act so unprofessional and rude in a service setting doesn’t impact me as much when I look at the hurt, troubled or starved spirit within them. I honestly try to look for the light, look for some meaning, look for some rational reason someone would treat others the way they do and then let the situation go.

Just to provide some additional context here are a few other random things that happened…

…A gentlemen thought it would be funny to extend his leg and try to trip Brittany after the Eric Church concert while we were walking. I must say I’m proud my ego didn’t respond like it would’ve in the past. We were both able to let it go but it definitely was an upsetting moment that made little sense to either of us.

…We had a very dirty room at the hotel we were staying at. We attempted to notify the hotel and speak to a manager, yet he never came to see us at the front desk or make the phone call that was promised to us after returning to our room. Needless to say, we didn’t feel comfortable even though we were staying at what is widely considered a nice hotel brand. Eventually we accepted things the way they were and decided not to spend more energy on it despite our disappointment.

…Many seemed to be on the defense this weekend, especially at restaurants. We almost felt like we were inconveniencing people by sitting in their section or visiting establishments in the first place. I stress this point because of how frequently this was our experience over a few short days. We both felt like we were in the cross fire of others’ egos and frankly didn’t enjoy it. We tried to stay positive and let things go, but I admittedly struggled. I realize life doesn’t cater to me and how I want others to treat people; so maybe this was a good chance for me to stretch my ability to give more grace in future circumstances?!

It’s a shame we had many instances of negativity during our trip. I felt like Atlanta was a very nice city. We met some nice folks. We obviously met others who weren’t so nice. I’m a firm believer that if one is unhappy on the inside, it’s impossible to fake external happiness for very long. I’m also a big believer that if we aren’t intentional with our spiritual lives, we will inevitably produce little fruit externally while interacting with others. I know we could have so much more joy in the world if we focused on being happy on the inside first. I must admit that weekends like this when I run across an abnormal amounts of hostility, rudeness and indifference; I wind up wanting to climb into “my bubble” and play self-defense emotionally from the external circumstances impacting my internal peace. After a while, I simply find it hard to meet such people and circumstances with a smile. I often pray for those who project externally the internal pain they must feel. I often meet these people with a smile despite their frown or scowl. I admittedly struggled doing either this weekend. What can I say, my external world brought me out of my comfort zone and stole some of my peace. I simply must look at this experience as a chance to evolve for future situations.

Perhaps we were supposed to be a light for these people. Perhaps this weekend served as a good reminder that we need to be aware of how we treat others, or even more importantly how we’re treating ourselves within. Perhaps people just needed a prayer. Perhaps people just needed a smile, despite my eventual inability to provide one. I pray we can get to a place where more people have joy within. I pray we can get to place where more people project this joy to the world. I pray I can build my light shining ability regardless of circumstances that serve as light dimmers. I’m going back to The Source this week. I need some intentional time with God to strengthen myself. I let the world get to me this weekend and am determined to use it as a learning experience!

I don’t want to put too much of a damper on our trip, we still had a good time. I am simply being reflective. I realize I can grow from our experience and Brittany feels the same way. We can be brighter lights. We can express more joy in spite of external factors. We CAN SMILE more next time!

Every once in a while you get a pitch thrown at your if you play enough baseball…the key is learning to duck and not let it prevent you from stepping to the plate for the next pitch with a grin on your face. 🙂

For more pics and to fully experience the journey follow @surrender_project on Instagram!

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