I hate flying. There's no where I'd rather be less than on a plane in the air... And no, its not the long lines, the security checks, the horrible food... its the white-knuckle grip, animal in a cage, stomach in my throat feeling I get when I even think about flying.
You might think I've been this way all my life, and that I've rarely flown... because otherwise I would understand, its really not so bad and its perfectly safe! Or that maybe I became this way after September 11th. Not true at all... I have flown TONS of times, I mean TONS! I used to live in Germany! Just after September 11th, my parents lived in Kansas and I flew home for Thanksgiving and Christmas! I've sat next to people who were scared before and chuckled to myself as I said to them that turbulence was "just like bumps on a road" and that flying "is safer than driving." I've been on trips to Romania and Kazakhstan for goodness sakes. That's like the other side of the world. We're talking 20+ hour flights here people. So I don't know what it was... something just clicked for me (or un-clicked I guess).
It happened the summer of 2003, right before I graduated from college and got married. I was on a flight from Houston to San Antonio (its only 45 min!!!) and I just felt this weird sensation like the plane was going to tip over and fall out of the sky. It was that thought that I turned over and over and over in my mind until I was convinced that it could actually happen. Ever since then I've flown about once or twice a year, petrified and with tears, a stomachache, and a death grip on whoever is lucky enough to sit next to me.
Now doesn't that sound fun? So I guess what I'm getting to is that I just can't wait (can you sense the sarcasm?) for the flight that Charlie, Paul, and I will be taking Monday to Alabama. I've even gone to the doctor for this and even though I will take medicine on the actual flight, its no magic cure and it still doesn't help for the few weeks beforehand that I get knots in my stomach just thinking about the trip I'm about to take...
This is something that, as a psychologist, I have wondered, why? Why did this happen all of a sudden? Where did this fear come from? I've tried using all of my anxiety techniques I used with the kids I worked with- taking deep breaths, visualizing myself on a plane or even close to a plane and trying to strategically relaxing each part of my body, etc, all to no avail. I've tried praying and praying that the Lord would take this away and that it would leave as suddenly as it came. But there's just something about it that will not let me go.
All of that said, now there's this: The last time I flew I had the most beautiful time of worship of my life. Looking out over tops of the clouds. What a beautiful sight. Whoever saw that before air travel?? No one! But it was there! All that beauty, there purely by and for the Glory of God. I sat looking out the window of the plane, listening to Whole World in His Hands sung by Christy Nockels (which I will be listening to this time too!!!) and crying out of gratitude because after all the anxious waiting and anticipation of that flight for months... I was not afraid.
In a way, I've come to an agreement with this fear: I know that you are there, but you will not control my life. And not only will you not control my life, but you will lead me to the most vulnerable place I can ever be where I will sense the power and majesty of Our Sovreign God in a way that I never have before...and all I can do is surrender to the One who has the whole world in His hands.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).