Struggles materialize every day. I don’t know about you, but I struggle with worry, fear and sometimes health issues. In fact in one single day, I could get myself worked up about all those things. Why does God place these struggles in my life? Why can’t we just all live life without struggles? As I meditated on this, I realized my fear of flying was and is a huge struggle for me. Because this is a reality to many people, it is the easiest way for me to explain why God places trials in our lives. You see, I wasn’t always afraid of flying. I became uneasy about flying when I was in my mid-twenties. I was flying home from NYC after visiting a friend. The flight was a nightmare. It was Thanksgiving weekend and we flew through a terrible storm over Ohio. The flight attendants were serving drinks when we came across some unexpected turbulence. The pilot immediately came over the intercom and announced that all flight attendants should take their seats, NOW! One of the flight attendants sat down and buckled up in the nearest seat – which was across the aisle from me. The turbulence was strong and sudden. It was the first time I realized why we are supposed to wear our seatbelts at all the time. My face would have been squished up against the ceiling of the plane if I didn’t have my seatbelt on. The storm lasted what seemed like hours, but probably was minutes. Once we landed my knuckles were in pain from tightening them so much during the flight.
So, after this flight, I started to realize that I wasn’t in control on the airplane. I wasn’t in control of the weather. I wasn’t in control of anything when I was in the air. For years I have struggled with flying. I especially do not like to fly alone. I try not to let my fear interfere with plans to go on vacation. I have actually flown to Rome (poor Pete – he had to sit next to me for 9 hours). I pray constantly before I fly and during the flight. My fear overtakes me completely.
Why did God have to bless me with this struggle? (Notice I said bless). Well, my guess after all these years is that God gave me that opportunity to see that He is in control. My life was not by any means Christ-filled at the time of that NYC flightmare. I certainly lived in my own little selfish world. I was newly engaged. I didn’t understand that a marriage is between three people (husband, wife and God). Maybe, God was trying to give me a little hint that He was still around even if I had chosen to ignore Him. This is when I wish God would use just a nudge to teach me a lesson. I mean does He have to give me a flightmare??? He probably had been giving me nudges for many months, but I most likely wasn’t listening. It was about this time that I started to realize the importance of faith in my life. I had been pushing God to the backburner for so long, living my life to the fullest (or what I thought was the fullest). This struggle was a pivotal moment for me to place God back in my life. It took years before I really understood the importance of God. Even though my life on the outside seemed perfect: marrying a wonderful man, going back to school to become a teacher, buying our first home, and pregnancy with our first child. All of these things appeared to be wonderful, but inside, my life was anything but wonderful. It was a struggle. It started with a flightmare and ended with years of searching for God. God’s timing was long on this one! It took years for me to find my way. The turbulence in my own life was extreme. God prepared me for it during that flight from NYC to Indianapolis. That struggle gave me the strength to place God first in my life.
You probably are all wondering if I have ever overcome that fear of flying. I am getting better. I pray to God to be my strength. I remind myself that I am not in control. I thank God for everything He has blessed me with. I remind myself that my life here on earth has been amazing. Because I finally let go of my anxieties, God grants me peace. Sometimes He places people next to me that are just amazing to talk to, sometimes He keeps me busy with my kids, and sometimes He just lets me conquer the fear on my own.
I do thank God for that NYC flightmare. It opened my eyes to the gift that He gave me that day: the gift of His open arms and unconditional love.
When you struggle consider doing this:
• Pray for God’s strength
• Remind yourself that you have no control over your life – God does
• Think of your life here on earth and point out what you could do to make it better
• Let go of your worries and accept God’s peace (you must relinquish control)
• Thank God for everything He has given you – even struggles
• Breathe in the Holy Spirit and exhale your selfish desire and control
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27