Strangers on a Plane

There are really two types of people when it comes to airplanes: there are the talkers, and then those who would rather get a root canal than socialize with the person seated next to them.

Admittedly, I am the latter. Earbuds in, sunglasses on – I am a fortress. I am simultaneously praying for a) the plane not to go down, and b) my seat mate to not try to drum up small talk. Priorities, right?

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But I love flying, I really do. Riding in an airplane is always a bit of an adventure. You never know who you’ll be sitting by, and for a couple hours, you’re completely out of control, and unplugged.

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I was flying back to Ohio today from New York. And there are always a lot of emotions, seeing the intimidating city skyline of Manhattan slowly morph into the lush and fertile Ohio River valley. A sight that evokes feelings of home, feelings of familiarity, comfort, and slowness. It’s like time in Ohio mimics the winding river – things here just seem to lolly along, not rushing life, but taking it casually as it rolls along.

But as we were in the descent today, I saw something that made me catch my breath.

The whole ride, I had been asleep. In my own little closed off world – which was how I liked it.

But as I was packing up my things for an efficient deplaning process, out of the corner of my eye, I saw on the upper thigh of the young woman sitting next to me, the scars from where she had repeatedly cut herself long ago.

And in that instant, my heart broke into tiny little pieces for this young woman.

I continued my packing up, and, not being obvious or anything, I caught a look at this young woman’s face. She had a short pixie cut, jet black, and eyes that had this depth to them. Eyes that, honestly, I recognized – like my own. They were eyes that had seen pain.

And watching her get off the plane and continue on her way, I couldn’t help but to say a prayer for her.

On the way home, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I felt so much guilt for being so wrapped up in my own seclusion that I missed an opportunity to connect with someone who quite very possibly could have used a friend. Or at least someone to talk to.

Not that I would have ever brought up her scars – I mean, I have more tact than that, people. But I would have talked about my blog and my history with anorexia. And I don’t know, you just never know how that will impact someone, and what it will spark in them to open up about.

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Sitting here tonight, I obviously have been quite effected by this woman.

I don’t know her story. I don’t know who she is or where she’s from or anything. I only know that she survived pain. And my heart has so much compassion for her.

Self-harm is something that a lot of people in the eating disorder community struggle with. And even though it isn’t part of my story, my heart breaks for those who have been moved to do so.

And who am I to judge, either.

Because quite honestly, anorexia is one giant scar. It is motivated from that same place of despair and quest for control.

I think about Jesus, and how broken His heart is to see His children hurting themselves. How He came and died for us, and we willing choose pain instead of embrace His love.

I just wanted to hold her hand and tell her that she’s worth His love. That she is so infinitely precious to the Father and that He would give anything — including the life of His Son — to take away that pain and that shame and that guilt. He already did.

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And as I sat there, thinking about all those things I wished I could say to her, I realized that those very same things could be said to me.

And to you, too.

We all have scars. We all have reminders of pain that we try to cover up.

But our scars tell a story. They remind us that we survived. That we overcame and healed.

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This blog – telling my story – that’s my scar. And it is radiant because He has redeemed me through it. He is the reason I survived. His glory shines through it.

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I wonder what she would say if I asked her about the story her scars tell.

I bet it would be quite the story of victory. Of healing and strength.

To this mystery warrior woman: I’m sorry that I didn’t engage with you. I’m sorry that I didn’t see the person right in front of me. I hope you know that your story is worth telling and being heard. And that I, for one, would have been honored to listen.

And your story is too.

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beautybeyondbones

BBB: Because we're all recovering from something. // For speaking/business inquiries: beautybeyondbones@yahoo.com

221 thoughts on “Strangers on a Plane

  1. Opportunities missed… I am reminded of the final Narnia Chronical book by C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle. If my memory is correct, when Aslan calls for the children, one (I’m not sure if it is Susan or Lucy) has “grown up too much” and does not respond to the beckoning of the Wardrobe to return to Narnia. Some events occur because of her absence. When she does eventually enter the Wardrobe, Aslan repremands her that because she was not present those events cannot be changed. Sins of Omission are what we pray to be forgiven for, when we miss an opportunity. We probably have more of those than Sins of Commission. Guilt is not the issue, but being more open to opportunities in the future. -Oscar

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  2. I read this book once, where a character had these beautiful golden scars woven into his body. His friend asked about them and he explained how scars are a testimony, they portray the beauty of redemption, and they prophesy of hope for others in the same type of situations. Show your scars, they give the world hope. Thank you for writing this. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I love your tender heart, too and so does God. I think this experience was a lesson (duh) but so often, we miss what the Spirit is saying. Our mission as Christians is to impact earth w/the Kingdom of God. He showed you an opportunity that you will not miss next time. I learned the hard way to spot these moments and carpe diem. I’m sharing an experience I had w/2 different women on airplanes (see
    http://healingwriter.com/2016/10/15/not-hearing-god-go-another-way) bec they turned out to be fantastic ministry opportunities. Nothing is wasted, grasshopper LOL. Abba is smiling at you tonight.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw Kathryne, thank you so much! I am seriously so touched by your generous words. That’s such a powerful way to put it: impact earth with the kingdom of God. I love that. Thanks for sharing that. Hugs and love xox

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is the first time I visit your blog, Ana, so I had no idea of your existence before, let alone your battle with anorexia. I can’t even begin to imagine what a nightmare that must be to live with, but I do know someone in my close family circle and dear to my heart who has also been through it and is now doing very well. I hope you have come through on the other side and that you will find the strength to stay there and I am sorry about your missed opportunity on the plane. Still, this lady has touched you in some way and has spoken to you in a silent manner which you alone understood, so I am sure that chance meeting was for a reason and will not be wasted. All the best to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been in the same position where I really want to talk to a stranger because they seem like they need it. Then I didn’t have enough courage to do so, and they stay in my mind. I also make a prayer for them. Great post.

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  6. First, I wanted to say thank you for visiting my new blog today. I appreciate it, and your presence there brought me here. And wow! What a fantastic blog! You have a great writing voice that makes your content shine. And what a fantastic message. Thanks for bringing me here!

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  7. I think you care too much. You get yourself too emotionally involved in other people. A person cuts. So what? That’s a choice. You think you can pass all of this hurt onto your Jesus, or yourself, but why?!? These are their CHOICES. I think a man (or woman) in life can either choose to live, or be lived. I feel sorry for you feeling sorry for others. But, hey, I don’t really care.

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    1. Cuts are a sign that someone hurts. We all make wrong choices, sometimes we need help with the consequences. I don’t feel sorry for your lack of care, I’m not judging. But me? I feel depressed that people feel the way you do.

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      1. I still believe it’s a choice. I’ve met plenty who cut. Bedded by them. Walked by them. Colored beside them. I would be one to judge if I were you. I have put the knife to my own throat. Didn’t cut it. I have tried other sources of suicide. One actual, real failed attempt. Have you self-harmed? Or are speaking as most hypocrites do, in third person deity?

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  8. Nice words.
    But that is not me. I hate flying.
    Actually I dislike travelling in general, but especially flying.
    It is not that I an scared of flying, I’m just terrified of crashing.

    But riding an aircraft should not be an adventure. It should be as boring as possible. Take off, hours of boredom, landing is the perfect flight. Excitement would be an engine catching fire, a wing falling off, plummeting in a fireball, stuff like that are all exciting, but best avoided, even for the worlds biggest adrenaline junkie. Boredom is better.

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  9. You know what is WILD I was recently on an airplane to the west coast from the Midwest and had one of the most fruitful conversations on my ride. It could have been horrible considering I had a middle seat but my seat-mates and I talked nearly nonstop for 5 hours. We discussed family , faith , relationship , tv , movies, and food. The best thing was we all represented very different people and age groups. With all this said, God puts us in places on purpose. Even in planes. It may not always be a talk show panel discussion every time BUT even a greeting could rock someone’s world!!!

    So glad that girl captured your attention. That prayer could have been just what she needed for strength for that day.

    -JV

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    1. Oh wow! That’s an incredible story! I’m so glad you had that encounter. I love talking with people who all share different world views and beliefs. It is really stretching. You’re right- even a greeting could make a huge difference in someone’s day. Thanks again for all the reading you’ve done here today! Have a great rest of your weeekend! Hugs and love xox

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for giving me another perspective to scars – testimony to survival, victory and healing. This experience you recount reminds me that we must learn to step out of our self-made cocoons because you never know whose life you will brighten.

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  11. I look at John 4, the woman at the well. Jesus kept her interested and off balance with startling statements. I pray for something startling to hook the person with. If God gives me something, I use it, if not, I can read my book in peace. You have the heart for it.

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  12. As I was reading this, the thought came to me, “You did the best thing you could do, and that was to pray for her.” It reminded me of something St. Bridget said also, “God does not love a queen more, than He does the lowliest of servants.” When you prayed for her you were being the “lowliest of servants” You gave to God for her the thing he will most surely honor, and that was your heart and prayers, not your words. If God would have wanted you to speak to her, He would have let her begin a conversation with you.

    Most of the time in my private life, I do not speak unless I am called to by someone. If they need to talk I am here to listen. I think at times we do want to jump in with our words, stories, etc…. Making ourselves kings and queens of every situation. That may not be what that person needs. We can always be confident they need our prayers, to a most loving God. I think you did the right thing, most of all having the love and compassion for her.

    Her scars also turned you towards God and that is never a bad thing. It only proves to me you are so willing to be His most humble servant. For that dear heart, you shall one day wear many crowns. Love you and God Bless, SR

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    1. Thanns so much SR, for this thoughtful response. Yes there is power in prayer for sure. I think you’re so right – God will lead us to do what He needs us to do. And sometimes that’s just prayer. Thanks for your kind encouragement. Hugs and love xox

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Hey there! I love your post. It’s truly heartfelt, and I feel like I’m sitting on the plane right beside you.
    Thanks for checking out my blog! Let me know what you thought, and if you would change anything. : )

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  14. Scars are a beautiful part of our stories, making us richer for having them. Scars scream that God gave enough grace to be alive with them. They scream, “The enemy effected me but God’s love won and I am here!” Love you, beautiful! Hugs! ❤❤❤

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  15. Beautifully written. This is something I need to remind myself often too – to be more mindful about people around me, to hear their stories, and share mine if they’d love to hear it too, and maybe in that way they would get a glimpse of Jesus’ goodness in and through my life.

    Keep shining for Jesus! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  16. If anything, she stood out to you enough for you to have your eyes open. Who knows, maybe God wanted you to notice, so that perhaps when there is next time, you’re prepared for it. I think, even if you weren’t able to talk to her directly, your heart is still there, and your message in this post is open to anyone who reads it. : )

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  17. I had a similar experience a couple years back. Being a night manager at a motel, you come across your share of characters even in a small town (maybe especially in a small town?), this one evening this girl and her grandmother came in and got a room, and there’d been a bunch of people coming to the room so 11 rolled around and I went out to remind them it was quiet time and time for visitors to be leaving. She opened the door and one of the first things I noticed were the scars all up her arm. And I was kind of just speechless which is probably my saving grace because I really don’t know if I’m a tactful person, haha. Anyway, after an awkward moment of her under-the-influence hitting on me and my showing her my wedding band I said what I’d come to say and said goodnight. And that was it. Later I wrote, (thank God for blogs):

    I caught a glimpse of brokenness.

    What I remember most vividly was that she was right-handed; all the scars were on her left arm.

    “Nice to meet you,”

    It only took the momentary glance that I got as she reached out to shake my hand to notice the dull red lines covering the inner side of her forearm from the wrist all the way up to the elbow.

    Brokenness.

    I haven’t met many people in person who have or do self-harm–I certainly had never before seen the aftermath firsthand; it blew me out of the moment. I’m not saying it shocked me, per say. It gave me a fresh dosage of the reality of what I’m supposed to be doing here. By here I mean alive.

    Because when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter how much you talk, write or think about it. You won’t ever understand the brokenness of people until you see it first hand.

    And you know, I still think about her (obviously, because I’m telling this story) and wonder what her story was – I’m sure I’ll never know. But the truth is all the thinking and wondering or blog-writing I can do won’t change that I met that brokenness and I spoke nothing into it–or maybe I spoke something I never knew I did, but either way, the moment passed and all the words (“Say ALL THE WORDS!!! ….Say…ALL the words..?”) there are to say don’t amount to anything, the only thing that amounts to anything is gracious love given every moment of both our awareness and unawareness because you’re right: we all have scars, and some scars are obvious, but most aren’t. Many are dressed up and hidden away because being seen was what induced them in the first place. I met a horrible man at that job, an older guy who drank and drugged away every penny he’d gotten and racked up room bills which his mother in the end had to come to settle in spite of getting deals for knowing the owner. When he came around you knew it was because he was binge drinking and his parents had kicked him out till he was sober again. I literally detested the sight of the guy. But one night he came into the office and I don’t really remember how we got there, but he just broke down crying as he started telling me about all the abuse he had been subject to as a child and my heart just went into a million pieces. I know, not a very helpful trait for someone working nights at a cheap motel in a small town 😛 But I’ve never viewed him the same way since, I’m not sure I’ve viewed anyone the same way since some of the experiences I had working there as Father was just immersing me in a love baptism during that time.

    Holy crap, give a guy a keyboard and he’ll type all night! haha..I probably could go on all night about those kinds of experiences.

    I would say, love always. But “Love always,” becomes redundant with Christ living in us, and us in him, because “Love always,” is the deepest part of his nature ❤

    So perhaps instead, 'Father give us new revelation of your love for your children in us'

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing this Carson. Wow what a powerful encounter with that guy. You were a walking angel for him:) and what a powerful entry from your journal. I’m honored you’d share that with me. Thank you. Love always. Amen. Hugs and love xox

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  18. Beautifully written. It made me think about all that I’ve been through. You have a good heart and I know your prayers reached that girl on the plane. I hope blogs like yours will help change lives of people who are in need of a guiding light. I’m happy I read this blog today, especially because I’ve had some recent struggles in my quest for happiness. Thank you for this and blessings to you.

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  19. Beautiful post. I have an image that comes to mind most often in Adoration, of the risen Jesus, dressed in white robes as he is often portrayed. I can still see the holes in His glorified hands and feet…and when He embraces me, I can feel, through the cloth, the criss-cross of scars on his shoulders and back from the scourging. They are, in retrospect, like badges of honor, marking His perseverance and faithfulness to the Father.

    Also, I too struggle with ministering in the here-and-now — with seeing Christ in the person right in front of me, disrupting my silence and theirs, and being Christ to them. It is so easy to be self-absorbed; so hard to emerge and engage and heal. Lord, help us to pour ourselves out in love!

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  20. Hi BBB,

    I pray the Lord open up many doors to personally minister to those women with bear burdens and scars. Safe travels to you. Gary

    On Thu, Jul 27, 2017 at 4:04 PM BeautyBeyondBones wrote:

    > beautybeyondbones posted: “There are really two types of people when it > comes to airplanes: there are the talkers, and then those who would rather > get a root canal than socialize with the person seated next to them. > Admittedly, I am the latter. Earbuds in, sunglasses on – I am a f” >

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  21. Yeah, I’m a quiet one on a plane. The aisle, some g&t’s and I’m ok.

    It can help to hear people’s stories 🙂
    And I don’t think you missed to care

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  22. I prefer the train because people actually talk. The train is a mystical American experience. I’ve had dinner with complete strangers in the dining car, met fascinating people late at night in the lounge car, unlike the ugly, silent, mute souls who inhabit airplanes. Peace be the Botendaddy my young beauty

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      1. Get off the plane, kid: pay extra for the sleeper berths on Amtrak. Meals are included, there’s a shower in the car and four bathrooms, a conductor to wake you and tell you about meal times, you can lock your door and weirdos won’t pay for the sleeper car, so it’s safe. Big, gooey smooches to you too, BBB

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      2. All of my usual kidding aside, I think you telling your story is helping many people with their recovery and you are a beautiful soul for having the courage to speak out. Peace be the Botendaddy

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  23. This reminds me of someone I met on an airplane. I casually struck up a conversation because I thought I should, and I found out that she was actually moving to the country we were flying to to join a missionary organization to help girls who have been sex-trafficked. I was going for a shorter time of course, but it was just odd because we were really similar, and yet completely strangers. We prayed for each other before exiting the plane, but now I regret not having a way to keep in touch. It’s funny how God will bring some people into your life for just a moment.

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  24. That was something took my heart to a different world. I feel we should treat everyone with kindness even though we don’t know them cause we don’t know what they’re going through. Reading your blog i made my mind to be kind to every person in the world. And one day no body would harm themselves for anything. ❤️😇

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  25. Hi there! This post really moved me. Next time I go travelling I gonna be open to anyone I would be seated near. I really like to connect with random people that I met. Please, don’t be hard on yourself about not talking to that woman. Treat this experience as a lesson to be learned for the next times! I’m so happy that you overcame your problems and that your smile is so big and shiny!
    P.S Thanks for checking out my blog! I’m glad you liked it.

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