Tag Archives: God’s Plan

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.

What Appears Right May Be Wrong

One could probably guess, since I live in the DC/Maryland/Northern Virginia (DMV) area that daily anger interventions may be necessary. However, I’ve taken the politicking, aggressive driving and traffic congestion in stride because there is a lot to be enjoyed in the area. But, somehow I was taken by surprise at what happened at what I thought would be a quick and uneventful trip to the store.

I departed to go to the store at a time when traffic was least congested in hopes of getting to the store and returning at a reasonable time. All was going well until I got to the cashier to pay for my items. As I approached the desk to put my merchandise on the counter, a young lady quickly approached me and asked if she could go before me because she was on her lunch break and needed to return to work quickly. “No problem,” I responded. As she only had one item, her transaction was completed quickly. So, I began placing my items on the counter. Out of what seemed like nowhere, a lady approached the cashier and asked him why would he ring me up before her? Huh? I was honestly confused and so was the cashier but he did not speak. Where had she come from? Who is she? Before I could clear my head from the confusion she then proceeded to tell me that she knew I would be at the desk when she arrived. She told me to stop following her and that she knew I was the CIA. Again, huh? I didn’t know how to respond. I was truly baffled. She was acting a bit aggressive and speaking loudly. She continued on her rant about how America was going to Hell especially the CIA and then pulled out her cell phone and dialed the police. She told the person who was on the phone that there is a lady (me) following her and she needed to report it.

Believe it or not, I had the presence of mind to pray. I asked God what He wanted me to do or say in this moment. My spirit was not quickened to do anything but stay silent. Again, I asked, “Anything God? What should I do?” But I was not compelled to say or do anything but be mindful of my surroundings. The cashier continued to ring me up. He completed my transaction but I didn’t feel comfortable leaving. I asked him if he wanted me to notify anyone and he stated “no, everything would be okay.”

I spent days thinking about this incident…punishing myself for not reacting appropriately. But, what was appropriate? What was right?

Respond in Anger

I have never been a person to respond in anger so it was far from me to respond in that way on this occasion. Albeit, the lady was ranting quite loudly and acting aggressive, I was not compelled to respond likewise. I learned decades ago that you can’t “fight fire with fire.” It just doesn’t work. On most occasions, it only escalates the matter.

In fact, God’s word teaches me to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires (James 1:19). I can’t imagine being able to rightly think with my head and heart in anger. In fact, it seems like she was giving full vent to whatever rage she had in her for whatever reason but “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end (Proverbs 29:11).”

Respond with Encouraging or Enlightening Words?

I really really wanted God to inspire me to say something that would encourage or enlighten the lady but nothing came to mind. I mean nothing. After thinking about what happened, I have come to realize that the only appropriate response should have been God inspired. Of course, I could have quoted scripture but would that have meant anything to her. In God’s time and under God’s direction are seeds planted and watered. I Corinthians 3: 7-9 (NIV) tells me that “neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” As a co-worker in God’s service, I can only plant and water as directed by God.

On this occasion, nothing came to mind. I know what my human knowledge and human understanding was telling me would be the appropriate response. But, I live in the Spirit. If we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). What may give the appearance of being right may not actually been appropriate or helpful.

Respond in Silence

Perhaps God did answer. Perhaps my silence was the response God wanted from me. If the lady was looking for confrontation, anything I said could have escalated the matter.

The truth is that my disappointment in my response was due to me thinking I knew what God wanted. Instead of praying, waiting for His reply and trusting that reply, I felt there was more I should be doing. I have come to realize that we are all broken in different places and that God heals us in those distinct places according to His plan. And, my silence is how he chose to use me that day. There was no further incident. She left the store shortly after I did. And, I pray that God heals whatever ails her.

Student to Teacher: Reflections

Danyelle 1This year has presented a lot of challenges, changes, and development for me. As a 2013 graduate, fresh out of college, I decided to switch from the role of student to the role of teacher. When I started my role as a corps member for an educational non-profit, I envisioned myself as somewhat of a humanitarian with a certain agenda. I planned to go into the school system and make a significant difference in the life of every child that I encountered. I was going to inspire them, I was going to motivate them and I was going to save them from the negative influences of the world. I was ready to conquer and I was ready to teach! I mean, I went to college and I’ve been through my fair share of life so what could possibly go wrong??!

Reflecting on this year with my students, I’ve realized that I am the one learning an abundance of new information. There is nothing that truly prepares you to teach or even to learn. They’re both processes of life and they happen simultaneously through life experiences.   Working with eighth graders of varying personalities, strengths, talents, and challenges has given me an opportunity to learn what it takes to really motivate people. By understanding what is important to my students, what makes them unique as people, and what they are responsive to, I have been able to inspire them. My agenda now has shifted from “saving my students” to showing my students that someone cares about them. I’ve learned that simply showing that you care has been the greatest motivating tool and allows people you care about to “save” themselves.

Simultaneously, during this period of revelations in my life, I found myself in a new church where I’m also learning and growing spiritually. I usually find myself so wrapped up in learning Scripture and engraining it in my heart. My greatest hope is to be able to eventually teach others and help them grow nearer to God. In the meantime, I learn and I observe until it is His will to have me inspire others. There have been many things that I have learned through Scripture and through being a student that I believe will help me be more ready to help others:

  1. Patience

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19 NIV

In order to do what’s in the Scripture above, we need to exercise patience. We should be patient with others as we are patient with ourselves. Everyone has their own individual learning journey. Everything will happen at its own appointed time. We must be patient though and slow to become frustrated. We must be diligent.

Every day, I consistently tell my students different ways of managing self-control. Some days, it feels like nothing I tell them is getting through. I tell them to be patient and quiet as they raise their hand to get the attention of the teacher and as soon as I turn around I hear a student scream, “Miss! MISS!” Students are constantly in verbal combat over who can say the most degrading things to each other and neither will “take the high road”. In report card conferences, I hear way too many “She gave me an “F”, because she doesn’t like me!” instead of I earned an “F” because I sleep in class. Then, one day a student says, “Ms. Danyelle, I listened to what you said and ignored those girls that said something mean to me. Now, they’re upset and I’m chillin’.” Although this seems like a minor feat, this student has taken a step towards being able to manage their emotions. There are unseen processes that are happening within the learner, but if the teacher is consistent and diligent, the learning does take place. It’s important to be patient.

  1. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matthew 22:37-40).”

God said it! Therefore, we can only conclude that loving your neighbor is SUPER important. We cannot say that we love one another if we draw barriers with our preconceived notions and judgment. We cannot draw closer to one another and draw others closer to God unless we try to understand, empathize with, and truly love one another.

 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be (James 3:9-10 NIV)

It’s important to always be considerate of one another. We cannot say that we truly love God if we do not love others made in God’s image. We have all fallen from grace. We must humble ourselves before God and love one another, “flaws and all”.

  1. Humility

Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be. Job 8:7 NIV

God is always at work to lift up those who are humble. So, we should always stay clear of false pride. Everything that man is proud of is temporary, it fades. High positions, power, money, and clothes are all here today and gone tomorrow. Those who remain humble, have a bright future.

I can see humility within my students and myself. Those who are bold enough to admit their faults and ask for help, receive it. Those who remain prideful and chase away help that comes to them, generally have a harder time maintaining. I admit freely when I have made a mistake or if I simply do not know an answer with my students. Now, that they know that I as an adult, a human being, make mistakes they feel free to admit their own and feel more comfortable.

  1. Be diligent

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 1 Timothy 4:15 NIV

We must be diligent in teaching and learning “…because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” We must be consistent, we must constantly be striving to do better and we must always share our experiences with others.

There are many things that are important in teaching, but one of the most important things has to be organization and consistency. In a world where everything is constantly changing, God stays the same…his Word stays the same. We must mirror this in our studying and our actions.

 

Danyelle 2Danyelle Lashay graduated from Howard University with her Bachelor of Arts in Economics. She is currently completing a year of service with City Year Greater Philadelphia. Danyelle looks forward to starting a graduate program in Public Administration & International Education Management at Monterey Institute of International Studies, a graduate school of Middlebury College in the Fall. She enjoys sharing her insight about education, current events, and spirituality. You can follow her on Twitter, @Mitchell_Dany.