Ten years ago I boarded a one-way flight from England to New Zealand. Unfortunately, it didn’t consist of great plane food and a movie marathon. Rather, it was by far the most horrific experience ever. Not only because I was permanently leaving my home country and everything and everyone I’d ever known. But because I spent twenty-five hours with my head in an aeroplane sick bag, projectile vomiting and simultaneously trying not to die from a panic attack. It was honestly hell, you guys! Even thinking about it now is making my palms sweat. And ever since that day, I have been telling people without a millisecond of hesitation, that my biggest fear is flying.
It really doesn’t matter how many times someone patronisingly reminds me “I’m more likely to die in a car accident than a plane crash“. I am well aware of the statistics. Yet still, the idea of being locked inside a glorified tin can and hurtled through the sky at 900km/hour by some dude I don’t know is just not my idea of fun. Luckily, over the past decade, I have successfully avoided all long-haul trips, only ever needing to make short domestic flights or pop over the ditch to Australia. Until now, that is. Within the past year, I’ve been feeling as though my days on the little island of NZ are definitely numbered. I’m getting older and there are so many places I want to go, people I want to meet and a big wide world calling my name. It’s only a matter of time before I have to face my fears once again. And it kinda got me thinking…
…why am I really scared of flying?
It’s not a fear of death (I believe in heaven) and it’s not a fear of vomiting (I’ve since rectified that with medication, thank God). Instead, I think it’s a fear of surrendering. A fear of accepting that while I’m on that plane, I have literally zero control. The aircraft is in the hands of someone else, as is my life. And being an INFJ personality type, it’s hard to be comfortable with that. Cause I’m naturally a bit (k, a lot*) of a control freak.
While reflecting on this truth, I’ve realised my constant need for control is evident in so many aspects of my life. Often I try to predict and prevent things from happening when the reality is that I just do not possess that kind of power. It’s scary to admit. Especially at this current moment in my life. Right now, I’m in a season where it seems as though everything around me is wholly and completely out of my hands. To make things even tougher, my emotions, hopes and dreams are totally tangled up in this uncertainty. The end result could go drastically one way or another, leaving me massively heartbroken or unbelievably happy. And in the meantime, I’m scared to just let go. Because letting go would mean releasing the attachment I have to my desired outcome. Letting go requires me to accept the possibility that my desired outcome may not even be the best outcome at all. It requires humility, to accept I don’t know everything. And it requires faith, to accept God does.
I think what I’m really learning here, is the art of surrender. To surrender literally means to stop fighting. Against both ourselves and against reality. To loosen our grip on something we were never actually holding in the first place. Acknowledging that some situations really are out of our hands. That we don’t dictate the patterns of the universe or our own destinies. To go with the flow, accept what is and trust all will be well, even without our input.
Sadly, I can’t tell you what will happen in your life this week, and I don’t know what will happen in my own life either. What I do know is we will inevitably be faced with situations that we long to have control over. And when we are met with these moments, we have a choice. We can either try (and fail) to micromanage the cosmos. Or we can find serenity in the knowledge that whatever happens, things will always turn out okay. Surrender is scary. Believe me, I know. But sometimes all we can do is simply let go, and let God.
He always has a plan, we just have to trust in it.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.