On flying and overcoming fear

I write from 30,000 feet. Or however high up this airplane is.

I used to be afraid of getting on an airplane. I felt like I had some measure of control, as long as I was on the ground. But to fly, so high above the earth, just riding along as a passenger, putting my trust in airplane mechanics and a pilot I knew nothing about — this was not something that Fear would let me do.

I flew once as a toddler, a trip I don’t remember, and once as a young adult with 3 small children, a 45 minute trip from Dallas to Houston under great duress. I was terrified during the entire flight.

So I traveled on the ground. As a child I was taken on wonderful camping vacations, and the trips I took my own children on were made in a car. In my 40’s, I took up motorcycle riding with my second husband, and learned to ride my own, because I needed to be in control. (as if riding a motorcycle is ever really safe!)  But to fly in an airplane was something I still resisted, in spite of professing in other areas that “God is in control”!

Ten years ago, when I was only 50, I was told by the company I worked for that I was being sent on a business trip. I wasn’t happy about it, and prayed fervently that the plane would stay aloft. I was surprised that the worse thing about the experience was that turbulence was like riding in a jeep on a bumpy road. And God apparently answered my prayers, because I got safely to my destination and home again.

Not too long after that, my oldest daughter moved to Chicago to attend college. And I flew again. Several times for visits, and later for her graduation. And my company sent me on another business trip. I felt like I had entered the space age at last!  But I still fought my fears every time I got on the plane. Then, the opportunity to take a trip to Honduras came my way. It was one of those heart things where you know you just gotta go! This trip would involve two flights over large bodies of water. At least I was well trained from my previous flights on what to do in case of a “water evacuation.”

So I went, my youngest daughter accompanying me. I prayed all the time, the desperate sort of prayer – “don’t let me die in a plane crash!”  When we got to Honduras and had to take a five hour bus trip through the mountains at night, in an old bus at the mercy of a driver who didn’t want to be late, more fear-based prayers were raised to the heavens. Again, God must have heard me, because here I am.

Something happened on that trip. I think that in deciding TO go I finally LET go, and instead of fighting with the fear I acknowledged it and went on anyway. In doing so, Fear lost its power.

20150605_213830Since that trip, I have flown countless times. And my ideas about God and prayers and fear and giving up control have changed and evolved. I experience the love and protection of God in a much more loving and less fearful way. I still don’t love flying, but I don’t hate it either! I  have seen much more of the world than I could ever have traveling on the ground.

Now, when Fear comes to visit, I say hello. And then politely tell it to go sit somewhere else. “I’ll call you when I need you” I say. And I see a bigger world.

5 thoughts on “On flying and overcoming fear

  1. Well, while I’m certainly not a frequent flier, I do know that fear of flying you described. I loved going up in Daddy’s plane tho, and when I flew to Oregon with my face pressed against the window, most of that particular fear left. However, the surprising rush of emotions I felt while reading your entry had to be stopped and somewhat analyzed. Most of my fears have had to do with other choices I’ve made in life, and sometimes feelings of regret and what if’s try to overwhelm me… so then I’m tempted to wonder I’ve made wrong life choices. But then I tell myself to get over it and be happy where I am. And usually I am happy in the present moment.

    Liked by 1 person

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