When I travel, I take my seat on the plane and quickly bury my face in a book or magazine. It’s my “I’m not interested in conversation” signal. When you talk for a living, striking up a 3 hour discussion between Dallas and Omaha is not really very appealing. I will usually sneak in a quick “hello” or a smile over the top of my book, just to assure that I’m not creepy. Just choosing silence.
I broke that rule recently. Turned out to be an aggravating choice.
The young woman who sat down in the center seat beside me smiled as she settled in. In her hand, she clutched a book whose author was familiar. I had attended a conference the previous three days for Christian writers. Could be, I thought. So I broke my self-imposed, no conversation regulation.
“Did you attend a writer’s conference here this weekend by any chance?” I inquired.
“Yes. I did,” her reply. Another question or two confirmed my guess that we had indeed been at the same gathering.
“What do you write?” she asked.
We talked about recently released book about the relationship between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law.
She sat forward a bit. “I don’t have a bad relationship with my mother-in-law, but it’s not close. It’s okay, though. My husband’s not close to her either,” she added quickly. “We’re both really close to my mom and dad. We live about a mile apart, so that’s really great.”
Uh huh, I thought. For your folks it’s great.
She went on to explain that her husband’s parents were older than hers by about 10 years. “And my mother-in-law is just not very, uh, smart. She doesn’t enjoy reading so she just knows what other people tell her or what she sees in the headlines of the Enquirer at the grocery store.”
I began wishing I hadn’t opened this particular can of worms. I could feel my teeth grind a bit.
“She always acts as though she knows everything, but she doesn’t, cause you know, she just watches TV. And she’s such a worrier, she’s always got something new to be anxious about.”
“It must be difficult for her,” I offered. “To live with so much fear.”
“Yeah, I guess. But it’s her own choice.”
Ugh. Is it too late to change my seat? I thought. Where is the compassion?
There seemed to be no awareness of the pain her MIL might be experiencing. Or the loneliness of a son who has made the choice to join his wife’s family and never look back. They live only 2 hours apart. “We don’t see them often,” she informed me. “It takes them at least 4 hours to make the drive. They’re just so slow.”
I was tired. It had been a long weekend. I simply did not have the energy to educate this young woman on the danger of ignoring one of the Big Ten. There was no honor in her heart for his parents. Clueless. Without. A. Single. Clue. One of the “Big 10” is to honor your parents. And when you marry, you inherit a second set. Lucky girl!
I picked up my book and settled back into my seat. But I wasn’t reading. I was thinking about the principle in God’s Word that the world knows as “what goes around, comes around.”
Is she aware that she’s sowing a garden that will produce bitter fruit? She’ll be a mother one day. I wonder if she’s ready to reap the garden she’s planting?