Wings on the shelf

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Hey friends & fam!  Okay let’s be real here, mostly fam.

Tell me if this sounds familiar …
Social Distancing Day 1: sleeping in, day drinking, sweatpants & chipotle delivery
SDD5: Deciding what to eat at meal times is rapidly becoming the only work you do
SDD7: You’ve Netflix binged one entire 10 season comedy that took a baby boomer 10 years to watch and even working out sounds okay if it means you can go outside
SDD10: You’re cleaning 5x your usual rate because you live here full time now and you’re a mess
SDD14: You’ve inventoried your kitchen in the unlikely event ‘rona turns into the apocalypse and your grocery list is leaning just a little more shelf stable

and if you’re a flight attendant … 

SDD1-14: You’re combing through rumors, news articles and work emails the second they hit your inbox for any new information that isn’t just “we’ve pushed back the deadline to volunteer for extended leaves from work yet again because we definitely don’t have enough flying for everyone.”

Don’t get me wrong, the first two weeks of quarantine were mega sweet for us here at the Barger house considering my husband hasn’t had that much time off work since our honeymoon almost three years ago and his snugs game is easily the strongest it’s ever been!  But, like all “essential” workers he has returned to his daily grind and his morning departures have made my lack thereof painfully noticeable …

It’s no big secret that the airline industry is absolutely tanking and needed of billions & billions of government dollars just to stay afloat for a few months (big shoutout to all you beautiful taxpayers out there!)  The bailout was specifically designed to keep people in their jobs but it isn’t hard to understand that with only 20% of the flight roster lining up for takeoff  – and with only 15% of their seats filled – there just aren’t enough flight attendant jumpseats to sit in, bags to handle, passengers to gate check, print tickets for or sweep up after, planes flying to need maintenance, traveler’s needing their Starbucks fix in terminal C, and the list just goes on and on.  For the first time since 9/11, thousands of airline & airport jobs have become unnecessary almost overnight … and we’re in pretty stellar company.  Industries all over the world – namely foodservice, education, hospitality, sports, fitness, wedding and event planning, ministry, child care – basically if you’re not in the military, the government, the healthcare sphere or working triple time at amazon right now (THANK YOU), the spread of this virus may have pulled the rug out from under you too.  Luckily some of us can work from home in our pajamas way too close to the refrigerator with our dogs in our laps and that’s fab.  Alas, flight attending is not one of those jobs.

So FA’s are faced with a choice: do we try to snatch up the piddly flying that’s still out there, or do we voluntarily pull out of the game for a while to reduce our risk of exposure in a flying petri dish, and to help the company get through this.  For me, the choice just wasn’t that hard to make: I’ve bowed out.
Even so, it’s done little to soften the blow.  Making the call to step away from work temporarily feels like utter crap when there’s very few other places hiring in a pandemic.  I’ve had a job since I was a bright eyed, annoyingly perky 15 year old kid selling you the Lord’s chicken! (No spoilers, but we’ve got the best sauce and the better sandwich so come at me bro.)  Please don’t get me wrong, we are incredibly blessed that Evan’s paycheck is so freaking solid it would take an actual act of congress to revoke it.  The military life isn’t typically known for it’s consistency, but in this case I’m willing to forgive them basically every missed wedding, family vacation and move we’ve made to cash in on this beautiful blessed promise of provision! PRAISE GOD!  But not being able to throw my financial contribution onto the marriage pile has stung my pride more than a little.

Which lands me here, thoroughly grounded and pining hard to go upstairs, grab my suitcase and book it to the airport!  To rise above all of this for a day or two and fly somewhere – anywhere – with a view other than my Netflix homepage, the Publix frozen food aisle or my front porch swing.  I miss the hustle, engaging with hundreds of people in a day, the camaraderie built anew with each unique flight crew and the go go go pace I’ve grown to love and expect!  Instead, God has called me and so many others into a time of stillness … and stillness has proved mega hard when my first reflex in chaos is to reflect the world rather than to reflect the Word.    

Usually when we come into stillness it’s a choice, right?  Whether it be a daily devotional, a time of prayer, some rest and recuperation or just a time of relationship, I’ve come to know an environment of serenity and security within the precious presence of my Lord. In this pandemic though, even with the very literal isolation via social distancing, my heart is constantly grasping for quiet against an ever present baseline of uncertainty.

Will my airline actually be able to recover from this without laying off junior employees like me, when they were already in bad shape before the virus hit the fan? 

Will I contract the virus somehow here at home, ultimately making this huge pay cut pointless? 

Is August too soon to return to work and will I be exposed to it then, again, making this current time away from work pointless? 

If I still get it somehow and give it to Evan how would that affect him & his flying unit?  

The world clearly isn’t constant like our God is, and dealing with that reminder day to day with very little to distract myself easily tanks my spirit.  Obviously all love & prayers first foremost go out to those fighting Corona in a much more literal and dangerous way, but also to everyone out there who’s wrestling with any nasty anxiety, frustration and fear this virus is leaving in its’ wake.
I don’t know about you guys but every morning I wake up, if left to my own devices, my outlook can roll into a dealer’s choice … will I be grateful or fearful, loving or recluse, will I stew in my anxiety or spend time with the One who is actually constant and near?  Will I indulge my feelings and submit to a host of frustrations, doubts and stress just because the world is doing a freaking stellar job of telling me my feelings are justified?  You know what, maybe they are, but living these long days in the splash zone of conflict just because I can not only has zero eternal value, but also has zero daily benefit.  None.  Especially when, if I spend two minutes in the word, God has given me an out.  In the old testament & the new, from the mouths of the disciples, kings and from Jesus himself, God has instructed his people to turn towards him, to abide in the truth…

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, and with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Then the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  – Philippians 4:6-7

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27 

Be still and know that I am God.  I will be honored through every nation, I will be honored throughout the world. – Psalm 46:10

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:1-5

And for me, toting around a lifelong habit of feeding my feelings and leaning into anxiety instead of holding them captive to obedience …

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

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As a daughter of delight my father in heaven has actually *spoiled* me with his reassurance and peace, should I choose it.  In weak moments, it feels like my heart is yearning to just be vindicated, but in reality it is aching to return to the peace it has tasted, to turn from distraction and abide in close communication with the One who created it and who holds it precious.

About a year ago I was heart deep in a bible study by Priscilla Shrier on the armor of God (which I cannot recommend highly enough, that wisdom is spirit-alighting, friends go get some!) and she gave me a profound word, which was simply: Thankfulness activates peace.

Unlike so many people whose jobs were taken I’m supremely thankful that I was given the choice to put my health and my family’s health first.  I’m so thankful that I’m hunkering down with my mega hot husband and our quality-time cups are basically overflowing.  I’m tremendously thankful that even with me taking a professional beat, our mortgage, our electricity & our grocery bills are still more than provided for.  I’m thankful I’m not the one picking up the pieces and trying to make an airline work in this mess, even if I have some strong opinions about the way it’s all going down.  I’m thankful that while it often feels like I’m “stuck” at home, I have a home to be stuck in.  I’m grateful for walks with my dogs and vegetable gardening and copious amounts of time to spend intimately with my savior.  And as always, the ultimate: I’m thankful that even though I have zero control over some things, I can still turn my face towards the God who sits on his throne over all things, and who delights in me for some reason!

So, like many other flight attendants putting my wings on the shelf for a little while …
I’m hoping it won’t be longer than 5 months but I have faith that the Lord will continue to lead Evan and I, and all of you, in love and clear direction, which is always appreciated and super needed, thanks Jesus.

I also want to plant a massive virtual kiss on the faces of everyone who have reached out to me since the travel industry hit a tailspin, you guys are super wonderful and so well-loving to even think of me.  I’m praying for and loving each and every one of you guys from my super well defined butt print on this couch!

Much love,
Beks

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