Whenever I approach life with a certain sense of arrogance and know-it-all-ness, I realize that I miss out on a good many things that I could actually learn from others. This tendency I have towards being the man who has all of the answers and none of the questions is certainly a tendency that I have enjoyed losing much of over the last few years. In exchange, I am gaining knowledge, answers, rich relationships and most of all - life.
Last week as I flew home from a trip to Mexico with some of my friends, I had the opportunity to sit next to a man and his family who were in the states so this man's oldest daughter could undergo her 22nd surgery for Spina Bifida. Though we had never met, this man and I had the most amazing conversation on our way from San Diego to Salt Lake City. The commonalities between us were incredible. Born just 10 months apart, we are the same age. He has been married for 10 years. I have been married for 9. He has 3 children - all girls. I have 4 children - all boys. He is a runner. I was holding my latest issue of Runner's World magazine. His connection with his God is important to him, as mine is to me.
As we sped down the runway and lifted off, I looked at him and said, "I really don't enjoy flying." We both laughed it off and continued in conversation. About 6 minutes into our flight as we came close to our cruising altitude, we hit a small pocket of turbulence. I became fidgety which was quite evident to him. He leaned over and said, "You know, Mr. Brian, in my religion, we believe that our God is in control. We believe that nothing happens to us apart from our God knowing about it and we believe that we can trust that things will be okay because our God is in charge."
I replied, "In my religion, we believe the same thing. I'm just not very good at it."
From that point on, we conversed for the entire hour and a half flight. We talked about everything from raising our kids, to our vocations, to our favorite hobbies. It was the most beautiful 90 minutes of my day.
I learned a great deal last week from this Muslim man from Saudi Arabia. I learned a great deal about love and life, about family and priorities, about sacrifice and selflessness, but most of all, I learned about faith.
It causes me to wonder how many times I have missed out on opportunities to learn from others who were different than me because I thought I was the one with all of the answers?
These days, I feel as though I am on a continuous journey of learning just how much I don't know. And I must say, I am loving the process and finding great freedom in this journey.