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Letting Go of Fear


Row 38, seat B. That was my assigned spot on the flight of my worst nightmares. My husband will tell you that I am being dramatic. Maybe. Maybe not.It was a windy day, a turbulent flight and call me crazy, but my idea of fun does not include bouncing around in an airplane up that far from the ground.

It almost sounds like I hate to fly, but that’s not true. I love traveling. I love airports. I love the speed of taking off and seeing the aerial view. It’s just that I only enjoy it when it feels safe and under control.

At one point during the flight, my husband looked at me and asked how it felt not to have any control over the pilot. To not be able to nudge and direct the driver the way I do my spouse when he’s behind the wheel.

Terrible, I thought.  But here’s the reality. Flying is good for me. I like feeling a sense of control, and when it feels removed, it puts to test everything I claim to believe.

I sat at a table the night before attempting to talk one of my son’s away from nosediving over a cliff of fear about this very flight. I looked at him and told him about a time in my life when I was struggling with high anxiety and fear. Frequent trips to my primary care doctor. Frequent trips to the ER. A misdiagnosis of asthma, when in fact I was being ruled by anxiety.

I leaned in and looked at him. “Don’t let fear rule your life. It will stop you from doing the things you want to do.” And I could only speak that truth from a place that I have lived through and learned from.

We live much of our lives under this subconscious illusion of safety. Not that all things are outside of our control, hence the reason there are certain daily practices I have that help me feel safe.

Locking my door. Wearing my seatbelt. Trying to eat healthy and organic. Having my cell phone on me in case of an emergency.

But what I have learned in my moments of feeling like my safety is compromised or I feel a loss of control, crucial parts of my emotional and spiritual development occur.

You see, the pilot knew there was turbulence ahead. He knew how to steward the plane accordingly, and he was not fazed by it. In fact, he came over the intercom and announced that there was a bit of turbulence and that he would get us to our destination safeand sound.

I like those words. I want predictable outcomes. I love feeling a sense of control over my life and my fate.

And in the moments that don’t feel safe and sound, my heart is in the process of being recalibrated to know that my safety is in God alone. He is my shelter.No matter my location or my circumstance. Whether I am in the statistically “safe” part of town or the region labeled dangerous. Whether I am facing health issues or dreading that phone call from the doctor. Whether I am thirty-thousand feet in the air encountering turbulence or with feet planted firmly on the ground.  In those moments, I remember, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (Psalm 91:2).

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT In walking through my own seasons of worry and anxiety, I have learned that they are often symptoms of something deeper in my heart, like the inability to trust God or doubting His good intentions toward me. In Psalm 23, it says “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” The future is unknown to me, but not to God. Although I don’t like being taken out of my comfort zone, it is good for me. It stretches me and causes me to assess if I am living my life in self-awareness or God awareness. It leads me back to a place of peace.

What is a way you may struggle with wanting to stay in control?  During those times, reach for prayer.  Reach for scripture.  Remind yourself that God always has you even when you don’t feel it. As you and I wrestle to land in that place of peace, God will grow us in the process. 

PRAYER Father, thank You for being a safe place that I can abide and turn to when my heart is consumed with fear and the unknowns in my life. Remind me in those moments that You can be trusted fully and that You are always with me. “The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8).  May I hold firmly onto Your words of truth and experience the strength it brings. Amen. 

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