Being petrified of flying has its advantages.
Okay, yes, certainly “advantages” is an overstatement, but there is ONE reason that I’m thankful for my intense fear. When I’m up in the clouds and my heart is hammering in my chest, I can pray to God for hours on end, which is exactly what I did this past July on an eight-hour flight to Paris.
I wish I could be the kind of person who gets upset when there’s a delay and maintenance is taking too long. Irritated because things are running behind schedule and they have to repair something on the plane.
That’s not me. When I see those folks with the orange vests walk off the jetbridge, my mind goes to dark places and I scour their expressions to determine if they’re trying to keep straight faces and really just have their fingers crossed behind their backs … because maybe for the sake of time they had to use screws that were too short or a spare roll of duct tape to reattach the wing.
So when the masses are cheering and celebrating the announcement that it’s time to board, I’m holding myself back from going to the counter and asking, “Are you certain the problem has been fixed? Shouldn’t you maybe cancel for the evening so you have time to double-check everything?”
My trepidation goes back to when my children were little and I was terror-stricken over the thought of them losing me. My dad passed away from cancer when I was seventeen and I never wanted my kids to experience that heartbreak. I’m guilty of trying to shield them from anything painful, even though I know that I’m the person I am today because of each and every tough situation I’ve endured.
My obsession of not wanting those three to ever become motherless, for a time, started to spill over into every area of my life. Every prospective trip or planned future activity became a mental game of how much risk was involved.
It didn’t take one bit of creativity to envision what could potentially happen. All I had to do was read the newspaper or watch the nightly report to see how I could be taken in a flash … by a plane going down, or a drunk and distracted driver speeding down the road, or by a person with a gun in their pocket and desire to hurt others in their heart, or hundreds of thousands of other ways.
What I’ve learned and have to tell myself every time I fly or get in a car or just get out of bed in the morning, is that God.Is.In.Control. Not only of my life and my husband and children’s lives, but of every life that has ever lived or ever will.
God already knows when the final pages of ALL of our lives will be read, and we must completely trust Him. With all of it … every bit of it. Sooo much easier said then done, I know.
Fears come in a host of varieties. What’s irresistible to one human being can be repulsive or wretched to another. Why is it that one person can become paralyzed even hearing the word snake, while another person thinks there’s no better pet in the world? Why one gets completely charged up and feels alive when speaking in public, and the next one would rather fall over and die than stand and talk in front of a crowd?
What we’re frightened by and what we run from is as individual as each of us. We all have something, that one little thing, or maybe many huge things, that hold us back from living a full life – those things that we allow to “win” and control our daily choices.
It’s human nature that we avoid with all our being, and then fight and struggle with everything we have, the hardships that come our way.
If something makes our hearts pound and our bodies shake, we want to turn the other way because we don’t want to feel or face it. But maybe God wants us to keep going in that scary direction, even when it feels out and out dreadful. Maybe walking through those snake-filled valleys or flying forty-thousand feet up in the air and pushing through our fears is just what we need, to rely on Him and Him alone, to develop our character and allow us to grow and become the people He intends us to be.
The bible tells us that God will protect us and give us refuge as we’re persevering and traveling through those times of distress.
Psalm 91:4 says – “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
And Psalm 91: 9-12 says – “If you make the Most High your dwelling, even the Lord, who is my refuge, then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
Yes, there are occasions to pay attention to the fear in our bellies, but I’m acutely aware that sometimes mine is not worth listening to because it’s like a faulty dial in my brain that gets stuck on high when it clearly should be on low.
I believe God’s word though, so I rarely let my worrying mind have the victory anymore.
Instead, I march right on those planes (ok, another overstatement) even when my dread and anxiety is telling me to bolt. Because in my heart of hearts, I know God is in control. And I choose to trust Him. And even when I’m hitting major turbulence, in the air or in the minutes that make up my day, I choose to shout out praises and thanks. And maybe an SOS prayer or two.
We can’t always see when the bumpiness will end or why it’s happening, but God does and to me that’s extremely comforting.
He’s always there to call on and calm our fears.
So when you’re about to take flight or when you’re getting strapped into your seat of life each morning, burrow in under His feathers and picture God’s huge, strong, capable hands holding you up, and His protective guardian angels sitting by on the wings – carrying you wherever you go.