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While I’m processing all that happened at She Speaks and the big surfing adventure (more blog posts to come on this), I thought I would share a song that seems to sum it all up for me.
I had the pleasure of hearing it/singing it Saturday night during our conference worship time. It resonated deeply with me and I hope that it will speak to you also.
Enjoy Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong.
Wherever you may be feeling called out deeper, I hope that you find the courage to push through the fear, the strength to withstand the crashing waves, and the faith to keep your eyes on The One who lifts us up out of the water when our mortal feet fail.
This is the third in my trilogy of posts on getting over my phobia of flying. Thank you all for indulging me as I calm myself at airports and on planes by writing these blogs.
Today we fly home from our great conference in Michigan. You would think that after having completed Monday’s flight with little drama that today would be an easier trip. Unfortunately, today’s flight is the one that I have stressed most over all along.
You see, sometimes the information age can be a blessing. We can find answers to questions in seconds with only a few taps of our fingers. But sometimes too much information can also be a curse. Take my constant trolling over the weather channel this week fretting over the forecasted rain and thunderstorms for lovely Grand Rapids the night that I am to fly from there to Atlanta.
Each time I checked the weather and saw the forecast for storms, I rehearsed over and over in my head what would happen if indeed the dreaded t-storms would hit when we were due to fly out (yeah, I realize this is pretty much the definition of anticipatory anxiety, thank you).
I think one of the reasons this happened was my memory of plane rides in thunderstorms past.
Almost twenty years ago my husband and I took a trip to Norway to visit family living there. We were to fly out of Richmond late one afternoon and connect with a flight from Newark to Oslo. We got to Richmond’s airport rather early, just in time to watch the summer thunderstorms roll in. As the storms built in intensity, the words delayed began to flash at our gate. Pretty soon other diverted flights began to land at our airport to escape the storms. An hour went by. The clock was ticking for us to make our international connection. At some point our flight was cancelled.
This whole time I had been a nervous wreck. If we missed our connection at Newark we would miss a whole day of our week long trip to Norway, which already felt short for an international trip. When we heard the news of the cancelled flight, I broke down into tears. It had been a year since I’d seen my niece and nephew and my 23 years old self didn’t think I could stand waiting another day to see their sweet faces again.
Instead of rolling with the disappointment or going with the flow, I decided to take matters into my own hands.
Around the time our flight was cancelled, the diverted flight decided try and finish its route to Newark (no one had intended to come to Richmond after all). I tearfully pleaded my situation with the airline rep and begged to be boarded on the plane to Newark. In a post 911 world I can hardly believe that my husband and I were allowed to hitch a ride on the second half of a flight we were never meant to be on.
But there we went up, up, and up into the midst of thunderstorms on our way to Newark. About half way there I began to question the wisdom of boarding this storm bound flight. But once you are on a plane, all you can do is ride it out. And ride it out we did. Even after we reached the airspace of Newark we circled and circled the airport for almost an hour until we were cleared to land.
Once on the ground, my husband and I raced through the airport to get to our next flight. As we reached the international terminal, we found it desolate. Our flight was long gone.
All that grasping and striving for control in a messy situation had gotten me nowhere in the end.
Well, that’s not entirely true. It got me 24 hours in the
vacation hot spot Newark, New Jersey. Needless to say after an exhausted night in an airport hotel and 8 hours the next day wandering Newark Liberty International airport, I have never desired to visit Newark again.
I was reminded of the great Newark debacle today as I stressed and stressed over this evening’s flight. When checking the weather report upon awakening, I again began to fret about the forecasted afternoon/evening rain. I worried over it all through breakfast, then proceeded to try and switch to an earlier flight in the day, even though it would mean I would miss the end of the conference that I was so enjoying. But lo, my luck with the airline agents ran out years ago. The noon flight from Grand Rapids was all sold out.
I would have to either be delayed in flying until Friday and be stuck away from home another night, or take my chances flying through weather.
After trying to insert my grabby, controlling little mitts to handle this situation completely, I had to acknowledge that some things are just out of my hands.
Like the weather.
And the flying of airplanes.
And travel schedules when others are paying for my fare.
And so many other things that I would like to be in control of, but am just not.
So as we descend with some bumps on what has been a flight that was so much better than I thought it would be, I remember the words a friend gave to me Sunday night before I left.
Just let go.
Relinquish that control over to someone else for a while.
For in the end we are never really as in control of our fate as we would like to believe.
In some ways life is all kind of a roll of the dice. But even still it either turns out okay or we find a way to persevere anyway.
So I leave you with this image of skies from my flight that are much more beautiful than those stormy clouds I saw 20 years ago. It doesn’t always turn out this nice, but when it does.
Enjoy the ride.
Dena’s 1 Flight Tip
** For those of you who also struggle to fly, I will share that the tip from Capt Tom Bunn that helped me most was boarding early so I could talk with flight attendants and possibly even pilots about my fear of flying. In a situation where my lack of control was elevating my fear (“If I could only fly the plane, I think I would be okay), it really helped to develop some trust in those people who were actually in control of my flight. It surprised me how kind and accommodating everyone was when I shared that I was a nervous flyer (and how much their reassurances helped me).
I posted a few days ago on my fear of flying. Well, reader friends, here I sit in the Atlanta airport getting ready to board the plane to Michigan. So far a little jittery, but otherwise okay. It could be the half a Xanax that is keeping me calmer, but I also wonder if it is because this go round flying I have asked for help with my problem.
Normally when I am nervous about flying, I just try to fake that I am okay until I am not okay anymore. I can just hear Dr Phil ask me how that has worked out for me (not great). There is a certain shame that comes with not being able to handle life in a cool, calm, in control manner. It is hard for me (and maybe you?) to let go of that facade and admit that I need help.
But this time around I have taken a different approach. I blogged about my fear. I asked friends and family to pray for me. And do you know what happened as a result of admitting I had a struggle and asking for help? People offered me support and encouragement. Many people have reassured me and kept me in their prayers. A former airline pilot who now counsels fearful flyers like myself left his info in a comment on my blog. And though I did not have the time or money to complete Captain Tom’s full course, his free tips have been helpful.
I followed his advice on asking to board early with those that need special assistance so that I could inform the stewardesses that I am an anxious flyer. They were very kind and even introduced me to the co-pilot who gave me a big smile.
So here I sit at 10,000 feet with my little cup of water on my tray top so that I can see that turbulence is not that bad (the water barely shakes). I have done my breathing, said my breath prayers and tried to keep the tension out of my body. I did negotiate with God a little on take-off, but hey, we all need a come to Jesus meeting every now and again.
As we near the end of the flight, a couple of things occur to me.
Sometimes courage looks like admitting we are scared.
Sometimes we are strongest when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to ask for help.
So, dear reader, whatever scary things await you this week, know that it is okay to ask for help. Nice even.
For when we open up to others, we form connections that we would have never made trying to tough it out on our own.
Almost time to land now. Thanks for those who lifted up prayers and gave words of encouragement.
And if there is any way I (we) can pray for you in regards to your struggles, feel free to leave a request in the comments below.
In just a few days I am going to fly in an airplane for the first time in seven years. This lack of time in the friendly skies is no accident. I admit to you, dear reader, that I am … Continue reading