Tag Archives: faith

Faith and the Fear of Flying

Fear keeps us alive or that is what I thought two years ago. Fear ignites a fight or flight response in your body. It gives you options, and makes you evaluate your situation. I never understood how irrational or debilitating fear could be until my freshman year of college. I was 18, a freshman heading to school. My family and I were flying to Texas for the second time in a row so I could officially move into my dorm. I was unsuspecting as I bordered the plane, thinking it would be a smooth flight. I sat in my assigned seat, watched us take off into the night sky and promptly fell asleep.

When I awoke, the plane was falling, it was shaking and trembling, and luggage was falling out of the overhead compartments. We were experiencing severe turbulence like none I’ve ever experienced before. It was unexpected and frightening. I was afraid. We were falling out of the sky, we were all going to die and all I could think as I clasped my sister’s hand and screamed was “I’m going to die before I go to college. That’s so unfair!” The fear I felt was heart stopping, even as the plane eventually climbed back to its initial elevation and the turbulence ceased the fear remained. I was shaking, alert, afraid and completely helpless but I could not get off the plane. I would have to wait until we landed in two hours. I did not realize in that moment how deep my fear was and how it would affect my life. All I knew was, I wanted to get off that plane.

As an out-of-state student, my opportunities to go home are limited but when they arise, a flight is usually the quickest way home. I did not think flying would be a problem when I chose to go to Baylor but once I got off that plane, I realized it would. Every time I flew, the fear would come back. I would find myself grasping the armrest as if it was my lifeline. All my faith would dissipate as I realized how utterly fragile my life was, how little control I had over everything, and how afraid I was of flying.

I began to avoid flying at all costs. One time I rode the Greyhound for 3 days just to avoid the 3-hour flight. On another occasion, I drove with my mother for 2 days just to avoid that flight. I did not like the way it made me feel, I was being held captive by my fear. However, I began to realize I could not avoid flying forever. I had to face my fears. So, I flew home every couple of weeks. Overtime those flights became a time of mediation. It was in those moments, in the air that I had a glimpse of God’s power over life – over me. I am sure His heart ached when He saw how much I did not trust Him; how much I did not trust His plan for me. I began to pray, read the Bible and listen to gospel music on the flights and soon I looked forward to flying. I stopped checking the weather and turbulence forecaster before the flight and began to leave it all in God’s hands. There are two important lessons I learned from my fear.

1.  Trust God: By trusting God, I am placing my faith in Him and His plan for me. I am letting go and giving him reign over my life. When I trust Him, my problems no longer exist and all fear goes away because it is all for a reason.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

2.  Do not fear:  If you trust God, you should not fear, there is nothing to be afraid of, nothing that can harm you, nothing that can stop you. Fear cripples you, it shakes your faith.

They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. And He said to them, “Where is your faith?”  Luke 8:24-25

Through fear, I learned my faults. I learned that I need to give control to God in all aspects of my life and trust Him. I may not be over my fear of flying completely, but I am slowly getting there. The only way I can ever get better is by facing that fear, by flying and trusting God. While I occasionally reach for my armrest when I feel turbulence, I feel calm a majority of the time. I know that whatever happens on that flight is God’s plan and I trust Him and His plan for me.

Faith and the Fear of Breast Cancer

I have had a fear of cancer for a very long time now. I can’t identify what caused this fear to take root in me but I can recall, at the age of 17, sitting on the couch crying for hours waiting for my mom to get home because I felt a lump in my breast. She was concerned as well so she took me to see the doctor who told me it was just a cyst and I was too young to be concerned. The doctor’s words did not abate my fears.

I have been so gripped with fear throughout these years that I neglected my health. I was not performing the self breast exams and I would let several years lapse between mammograms. I didn’t want to know. I preferred not to know. I knew better but I did not do better.

All the while I felt like such a hypocrite when I would declare “I give myself away to you God!” The Holy Spirit continuously reminded me that I was not trusting God with every facet of my life. Instinctively, when I read the bible, I would cling to scripture that spoke to having a long and abundant life. The best way for me to remember things is to write them down so I would write scriptures in notebooks and diary’s. I wanted the scripture to become more than just words on a page. I wanted my being…my soul…to accept it as truth.

But I was caught off guard by what happened last month. It had been a couple of years since my last Women’s Wellness Check so I made an appointment with my doctor for an exam. She spent about five minutes reminding me how irresponsible it was for me to let the time lapse and that I should see her at least once a year for an exam. I agreed. I had nothing to say and accepted her rebuke. I appreciated her concern and had made up my mind that it would not happen again. I just felt foolish for being afraid.

We scheduled an appointment for my mammogram before I left her office. It was basically the same as my previous mammograms except now I had an option for 3D imaging. I accepted that option. I was in and out of the imaging center in less than 30 minutes. It took about a week for a nurse from my doctor’s office to call to let me know all test results were normal and she will see me again next year.

Much to my surprise I received a call from the radiologist at the imaging center nearly two weeks from my exam date telling me I needed to return because my exam showed an abnormality. I couldn’t comprehend a word she was telling me because my mind was trying to recall the phone call from the nurse at my doctor’s office telling me everything was okay. I spoke my full name to the radiologist and asked her is it me she wanted to talk to. She responded, “Yes.” I told her I didn’t understand so she began to explain that I was in their office 2 weeks ago for an exam and the result shows an abnormality so I needed to schedule an appointment immediately for a magnified mammogram and ultrasound. The radiologist call was interrupted by my doctor’s office calling but I allowed her to finish, scheduled a return visit and then returned the call to my doctor.

I had mixed emotions running through me as I spoke to my doctor’s nurse. I was angry because I was certain they gave me the “all clear” just a week prior. I was in denial thinking that this was just an insurance scam….just another reason to bill my insurance and I was afraid that I may have breast cancer. Nevertheless, I quietly listened to the nurse give me the results of the exam.

I received the call from the radiologist and my doctor’s office on a Tuesday and my return appointment was on a Thursday. As I sat there in my robe waiting for my exam, I was unbelievably calm. All the scriptures that I had meditated on came to my mind…”many are the afflictions of the righteous but God delivers them out of them all (Psalm 34:19),” and “consider it pure joy when you face trials (James 1:2-4). I kept saying to myself, you can bank on God’s promises so don’t worry. I prayed that if this trial/tribulation was part of His plan that he would give me the strength to endure. I reminded God that His child…yeah me…was a “punk” and I would require supernatural strength! I was at peace in that moment…I began to cry because I felt overwhelmed by God’s love and affirmation that I was His!

The ladies in the room began to glance my way. Soon one of the nurses approached me and tried to comfort me by reminding me that we don’t know the outcome yet. I told her I was crying because regardless, benign or malignant, I will be okay. I was confident that I would see the other side of this. Come what may….I will be okay.

I wish I could express in words how liberating this revelation was to me. To trust God and His plan through trials and tribulations is a lot different than trusting God through the good times. To completely have faith in Him meant that I needed to trust Him when things are difficult, painful (emotionally and physically), and disappointing! I needed to truly believe that whatever happened God will work things out for my good. God has made us promises and I am learning everyday how to stand firmly on those promises in full expectations of seeing them come to pass in my life.

By living in the fullness of what God has for me I will experience many good days and some bad days but EVERY day He is here with me! And on those bad days, I will call on Him to give me strength to make it another day and to give me wisdom to understand and appreciate His plan for me.

After the magnified imaging and ultrasound, the radiologist confirmed that there was a solid mass there and I needed a biopsy performed. The biopsy was scheduled and I went home. The first call I made after my husband was my mother. I just needed to confirm that I truly honored her over the years. We both laughed and my mom reassured me that everything would be okay.

The biopsy wasn’t the most pleasant procedure but it needed to be done.   And less than 48 hours later, I received the call that the pathologist indicated that it was benign; however, I now need mammograms every 6 months. And, ladies and gentlemen, I will be sure to get them every 6 months.

I have known many people who suffered through cancer. Some have seen the other side to better health and some are resting in peace but both are loved by God! In sickness and in health, through good days and on bad days, His strength is available to us all to endure the journey…we only need to trust Him. Below are some scriptures that have helped me overcome my fear.

My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. (Proverbs 3: 1-2)

Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”(Ephesians 6:2-3)

The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all (Psalm 34:19)

 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4).

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)