Those of you who know me well, know that I like my feet firmly planted on the ground. I do not like roller coasters, zip lining, parachuting, bungee jumping, sitting on high bridges in traffic or flying in airplanes. I’ve been able to avoid most of these activities throughout my “wonderfully grounded” life. However, I have a bad case of wanderlust. And sometimes that requires travel by plane. Basically, I fly when I have to. I wish I didn’t have a fear of flying, and after writing this post, you will not hear me say that I have a fear of flying again. (In my mind, to speak it is to give into it) This “fear” of flying is something that came out of nowhere… well, I guess it came out of basic knowledge. (The knowledge being that planes can fall thousands of feet from the sky and crash into tiny bits.) As a child I used to travel frequently with my dad on business rips. I earned a few of my very own “wings” via American Airlines. I even got to go into the cockpit and meet the pilots. When I was little, I thought flying in an airplane was the most amazing thing!! Looking out the window at how little everything looked, seemed to make me feel a little bigger! I was doing what adults did! Looking down on the world from their perspective for a change (or so I thought).
Don’t ask me what happened. By the time I was in high school, the fear of flying had taken hold of me. I knew the fear was a mental thing. It was something I had allowed myself to give into in my mind, but it was a familiar fear. My grandmother was afraid of flying. She would come from Maryland to visit us in Jersey by train. She made no attempts to conceal her dislike of air travel. Give her Amtrak anytime. I somehow adopted this philosophy. To this day, travel by train is my favorite way to go. I’ve taken 4 cross country train trips and can not wait for my next one. Nevertheless, if you want to see the world, air travel just can not be avoided, unless you are a very rich person with a lot of free time on their hands (at the moment, I am neither of these). But that is what I find so interesting about certain types of fear. It makes even the most rational people somehow irrational. I tried to justify it by making mental notes of celebrities that do not like to fly (Whoopi Goldberg, Jennifer Connelly, Megan Fox, Jennifer Aniston . . . “see, I’m not alone, I told myself.”) somehow I thought if I found good company to keep then it was okay to hang onto this fear. I even kept that stupid statistic tucked away in the back of my head that touted how much more dangerous it was to travel by car on the freeway than it was to fly in an airplane. Nevertheless, when it was time to leave on my trip last week I was not looking forward to the 5-1/2-hour-2-plane-journey I was about to embark on. (the local weather man had predicted thunder and lightning storms to coincide with our departure). To top it all off the world had just experienced 3 . . . count ’em THREE plane crashes in the last month and here I was, stepping out of my no-fly zone onto the tarmac right in middle of all the “crash talking madness.” All the news stations were endlessly reporting on the crashes and interviewing people about how they felt about flying and how safe it actually was. I got so fed up with being afraid that I just decided not to be afraid anymore. I knew how to do it. I just wasn’t sure I could do it.
Flashback 20 years or so:: When I went away to college in DC, I had to fly. As excited as I was about going away to school, the thought of the impending flight was always looming in the back of my head, sort of dampering things. I remember that flight vividly. It was a red eye and there was alot of turbulence. I prayed the whole 5 1/2 hours. Knowing my dread for the flight I was to take, my Father wrote out a travel prayer and gave it to me before I left for school. I still have it. I keep it in my bible and every time I have flown since, it has been with me. This hand written prayer has got to be at least 20 years old. I had it with me when I went off to France after college graduation. I had it with me when I went off to New York for Thanksgiving with Rob before we got married. I had it with me when I flew to Hawaii for my honeymoon, (right after 9-11) it was with me yet again when I flew to San Francisco for my sister’s 40th birthday weekend, and I had it with me last week when we flew back east for my cousin’s wedding. It is part of the reason that I will never say I have a fear of flying again. The other reason is this: I was scared about my flight and I prayed to God to remove this fear from me. I asked Him for comfort and he gave me a gift. A vision if you will. In it, I saw myself running up to Jesus, like a little child, excited and happy to see him. I told Him I was scared and needed His help. He said “Ok, I will pray with you, but first I will call on my friend, The Holy Spirit.” He did, and the three of us stood there, arms linked, heads bowed, praying together peacefully, with joy in our hearts. When we were finished, Jesus spoke these words to me: “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Wow! Now how could I be afraid after that? I used that vision + my travel prayer to carry me over the turbulence that visited each of the 4 flights I embarked on. I was still nervous and a little jumpy at some of the turbulence we experienced, but I am thankful that I know God loves me enough to take on my fears and that He has given me His Word to lean on when my “rational” mind rears it’s ugly head.
Do you have any fears you are trying to conquer? How do you quell your fears?