Do you have fear in your life?
I suspect we all have something or things which elicit fear within us.
Our previous pastor once shared that fear is a normal response to certain situations like an up close encounter with a dangerous, wild animal (e.g. a moose or bear up here in Alaska.) These are reasonable fears, things which we know can cause us serious harm or even death.
However, I reckon that many of us allow irrational fears to take hold of our lives which then hold us back from becoming the person God fully intends us to be.
Note ~ a few of the following links are affiliate ones. Thank you to anyone who elects to make a purchase through them and support this blog.
An example in my life is that I have fears about flying or going on a boat. Living in Alaska, that just cuts out two main forms of transportation. And, I can testify that driving out from Alaska takes a very long time.
My fear of flying is not as big as it was years ago. The fear wasn’t from seeing plane crashes or focusing on whether or not this form of travel is safe. Rather, it stems from having had my first panic attack on a small plane when approach Newark on my way to visit family in Louisiana from Rochester, NY where I was attending graduate school. The flight was rather smooth going and we were minutes out from landing at the airport when it struck.
If you have never experienced this super heightened anxiety, then words might fail to convey just how terrifying it can be. Having it hit while confined to a small commuter plane seemed to make it even worse as there was no where to go. Thankfully, I had enough of my wits about me to know that the sudden desire to jump OUT of the plane was not a very practical course of action.
For years afterwards, traveling by plane was challenging. I’d get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach and dread hearing the door close signifying that we would be confined to that metal space. I always carried a Rosary with me and would find some comfort in the repetitive prayers said during takeoff and landing.
One flight had me near another fellow traveler who also suffered from extreme anxiety about flying. From watching her, I learned to also carry a small damp cloth that I could place on my forehead as if trying to calm a fever.
Slowly, the fear of flying receded for certain circumstances. Larger planes no long had be tightly gripping the arm rests with teeth in a perpetual grinding position. But, it did remain for smaller planes. By this time, I was married with a few kids having joined the family which meant the opportunity to fly diminished. It is a lot less expensive to drive 2 days even with a hotel stay once you have a family of 4 than to travel by plane. The few times when we did fly somewhere (such as traveling from Ohio to San Diego in May of 2012), I made sure our reservations were for BIG planes. And, I put on my bravest face so the boys would not think mom was totally losing it. In some ways, I found additional comfort by having my family with me.
Coming to Alaska meant taking to the air for a cross country flight when our youngest was just 2 months old. Fear did not enter my mind between having the presence of my family to both calm my nerves and the distraction of an infant needing my care. While there are plenty of small (or what I’d call tiny) planes flying around Alaska, leaving the state is done on big ones.
Fast forward a few years and an opportunity to experience a trip a village in Alaska presented itself. I’d be representing our Parent Advisory Council for the charter school office where the boys were registered. The only possible obstacle for my going was my fear of getting onto a small plane. Flying into the ‘bush’ of Alaska means getting on a small plane. Granted, this one was not into the fully on tiny plane status as it held more than a dozen people. But, it still gave me some pause about traveling during the very cold month of February.
Through prayer and talking with my husband, I decided it was an opportunity to see a different part of Alaska which might not present itself again. And, I knew a few of the staff members and a neighboring office’s PAC chair who would be traveling with me. My rosary was packed and prayers said for safe travels. Amazingly, I did not experience any full blown anxiety or panic attacks. And, I had what is a memorable experience visiting the community of Galena, seeing the boarding school known as GILA, and being able to share with the school board members how blessed each family feels being a part of the IDEA family.
It has been shared that there are 365 occurrences of the phrase “Be Not Afraid” or some similar phrasing in the Bible…one for each day of our calendar year. One time is when the Angel Gabriel appears to Mary to tell her that she was going to be the Mother of Jesus… the Mother of God, and in a way OUR mother. Those of us attending Mass last week for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (Mary’s not Christ’s Incarnation) heard the words of the Angel as spoken to Mary. And, I am one who can question if I’d have answered God’s call without the presence of fear.
Saint John Paul II used the phrase “Be Not Afraid” three times in his installation sermon when he assumed the position of Pope for the Roman Catholic Church. He did not stop here as he authored a book (Be Not Afraid: Pope John Paul II’s Words of Faith, Hope, and Love )which covered that theme and used the phrase other times, including a visit to the United States (video below.) You can see some of those quotes on Good Reads.
Is my fear of flying (or trepidation about going on a boat for sightseeing tours as I fear becoming incredibly motion sick) gone? Not completely. However, I am grasping firmly on my faith and resting in the knowledge that God recognizes our propensity for fears.
I managed to travel on my own twice this year, by plane, to a destination where I knew practically no one. I not only survived, but grew from the experience. This coming year, I hope to identify other ways in which I allow fear to rule parts of my life and turn them over to God.
This post is linked up to the 40 Days of Seeking Him meme.
Every week we will link up and share what we are doing, learning or how we celebrate the birth of our Lord. You are more than welcome to link up your posts on the topic of Advent and growing closer to Christ.
Have you suffered from fears in your life which held you back?