I woke at 4 am Friday and felt the same heavy nagging I’d felt all week as I prepared to leave my family — the feeling that this preparation is really for the end.
The end of me.
In the early morning dark of the girls’ bedroom, I kissed them good-bye, and thought I am really saying good-bye, as I tried to memorize each detail of their faces, the smell of hair and skin.
I hugged Michael hard at the passenger drop off area, and I tried not to cling, as I saw hints of tears forming in his eyes. Rolling my suitcase into the compartment of the revolving door and into PDX, I felt alone.
Over the week, I had prayed and joined with others in prayer. Over and again, tried putting fear out of my mind to stand on what is real and true. Yet this, this felt not just of the head, but of the body and heart. A steady ugly spiral knitting itself into the very fibers of me.
I knew I might possibly return home after the weekend away, but prepared myself that I might not. God is my safety and protection, but that doesn’t always mean people make it back home.
Peace, I told myself, as we readied for departure. Peace.
In the air, the plane rocks and shakes like the ride down the hill to Grandma’s when I wiggled my middle so it wouldn’t fly up into my mouth.
My head is stuck to the back of my seat, my hands grip the arm rests, and I am not in control, and I am bracing myself, and we are soaring many more miles than I’d care to count above the mountains and valleys. I want peace, want it so badly.
I continue praying and look down at my gripping hands, white knuckles, and they cannot hold peace. There is no space for it.
In the dark of the cabin, in my place in this hurting world, this is about more than flying. It is about grounding. And I begin a silent prayer that moves gently across lips.
I trust you, God.
I trust you, God.
I trust you, God.
It is a slow unknotting, this — shifting mile by mile. For as I choose to trust I begin to release my death grip on this moment right here and, too, the massive unknown out there.
I am choosing to accept the truth that I am not ultimately in control of this minute, nor do I know what lies beyond the world of this seat in this plane under the arch of plastic and recirculating air, held by metal wings.
I cannot will myself to feel peace no matter how hard I try, but when I trust, I begin to feel the Holy, releasing and untwisting the knots.
Trust’s release carries the whisper of peace on its wings.
Letting go makes space for all that may come in the wide open expanse ahead.
This is a continuation of my story, reflecting upon last weekend’s retreat in which a glorious group of storytellers and dreamers explored big, ridiculous, God-sized dreams. Thank you for joining me in the telling.
* I do not intend to say that trust alleviates anxiety in all situations. We each have our own journeys and may need to pursue different forms of help and healing, as I have at various times in my life. Here, I intend to share my experience only. Bless you, friends.
Linking today with Emily and Jennifer.
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My flight was a bit bumpy too. Part of me thinks, I’m ready to meet Him, and part of me thinks of those here who need me. Trust, yes, that’s my word for 2013 as well.
I’ve got a ways to go on this journey of trust, but each time I let go of my grip just a little and experience just a tidge more freedom, I think ah…this, this is what I want in my life.
Wow I really thought I was the only one with this type and severity of airplane fear:) I have flown all over the world and every time I do, I feel like I’m never coming back home and I look at my kids like it’s the last time…..EVERY SINGLE TIME! Thank you so much for this post! We live in Ohio and we are going to Spain in July and I have fought about the fact that I would just rather not go than to worry and stress over it like I do. But we are going and this post has helped me. It’s sad to think that we wouldn’t have the most amazing experiences in our lives if we let fear rule us all the time.
Amy, I’m so glad my experience helped you and to hear I’m not the only one, this helps me too. I am praying that you would be able to release your grip on fear as you trust and that peace would come on its wings. May you be able to let go so that you can receive the gift of adventure. Go forth in joy, dear one. Go forth in joy.
I read somewhere this week that we shouldn’t live in the present, but in the moment. When I read about your struggles in that moment, I couldn’t help but think you truly did LIVE in that moment, even if you were anxious! Life can become boring if it I s always only plain sailing. When I become so anxious, especially when the Fibro pain overwhelms me, I draw deep into the life of our Lord and can then gradually feel His peace embracing me.
Blessings and love to you, dear friend
I love your words here, Mia – “draw deep into the life of our Lord.” Yes, that is true of me, as well. For when I let my life be encircled by His, let go of my own grip of control on my life, then I know peace that passes the moment.
I knew I would love following your journey. And I do I do. Savoring the encouragement and the call to trust you unfurl so gently here. The fabric of your telling is always satin on my skin.
What a beautiful encouragement to keep on writing. I’ve still got so much to say about this trip, but don’t want everyone to tire of it. :) Thank you for your dear words, friend.
Oh, since having kids I struggle with this intense fear, too…except for me it is long distance highway driving. I have know so many touched by terrible wrecks. I can’t wait to hear more about your retreat!
Yes, Allison. When you have heard of so many horrifying accidents, it can be hard to put those out of mind. I am praying for you and me both — that we would be able to place the lives of our precious little people and ourselves as mothers in His most capable hands. Sending you love.
I had one (or several actually) of these incidents with letting go of fear on an airplane.Definitely a marker of trust for me. I can remember it like it was yesterday. So thankful for the way He loves us enough to continually teach us. Love hearing about this part of your journey Ashley.
Thank you, Shelly. Yes, it is amazing how God has used those moments of fear in my life to show me Goodness and Love that is not going anywhere. And yet I can’t seem to receive the gift until I choose to trust…that just seems the way.
Love it Ashley and this really spoke to me! When I fly I imagine a grounding cord that I have so entrenched and anchored in my routine life (which is so much safety, I think, but, well, NOT, not really) and that I am, gently, temporarily pulling it up and tucking it neatly beneath me while rising above “it all” in flight. But it’s the scary, “Cripes, we can’t just pull over on the side of the road if there’s a problem” thoughts that make it not come up so easily or very willingly…. my anxienties about leaving the ground, but “up” it must come. I, once, in my fear, imagined it as a bit of a torn bloody root that I “cradled” as we took off the runway. Then, it’s “Here we GO”. After that, surrender seems the best option…the “I die if I die approach and Save me Jesus, one more time”….right?! Then I am able to enjoy the “pause” that being above the Earth gives me from my Life and “it all” and maybe read or enjoy the pleasant conversation of a traveling stranger sitting near. Night flights are harder, though. All in all it is that “Rising Above” that I cling to and ask for God to bring me snipets of inspiration from the Journey I’m taking to bring back “More” of me. Mostly it works out just that way! Usually there is a “change” in me that made that “feeling of Good Bye” valid, but in such a different and much more profound way than I feared. Just that “something” may have died (like more of my fear and that’s good) and something else got born, and I know this “pause” above “it all” was a good thing. Alas,God does have His Wings around me after all….again. Wonderful to resonate and share with you “Here”! Love and Hugs, Kelly
Kelly, I so appreciate your thoughts here! The grounding cord to the Rising Above that you describe…what powerful imagery. And yes, always the Everlasting Wings. Bless you, dear friend.
“this is more than about flying…it is about grounding.” In those words you remind me Ashley that we are one of those rare creatures that has both wings AND roots. Our ability to sink our roots in deep has everything to do with where – and in whom – we place our trust. And to fly, to leave the (perceived) security of the cliff’s edge, this too requires we trust. I wonder….do we most times need our wings and our roots at separate times? or do we perhaps need them both at once? This recent leg of the journey you’re on seems to point to the latter. : )
(and ahhh…the whisper of peace on the wings of trust! thank you for the imagery!)
Mama, how interesting that you said this because as I was reading Kelly’s comment above, I was thinking about how we have both roots and wings…and yes, I do think we need them both at once. For, as you say, grounding seems to have everything to do not with safety, but with identity in God (knowing we are loved and seen and treasured and made alive..) and the wings — to me, that seems largely about the letting go unto the Great Adventure, releasing the possibilities into the hands of the One who knows.
Hmmm Ashley, now that I know a bit more of your story after meeting you at the retreat… hmmmm, this speaks to me. Remember when we were talking about moving, and how God is helping me relate to others? You hadn’t moved and I had… a ton. And how God made this last move excruciating to help me relate. This piece you wrote here, He is tucking this away in me to help me relate to others with saying goodbye. I tend to have very little empathy or sympathy about this topic. And that is what you call military jadedness. I believe God does not call us to be jaded, and your words spoke in my heart to let it go. And fear, and letting go, well you wrote my heart here too. “Trust’s release carries the whisper of peace on its wings.” Ummm, yes! Love this piece, it spoke to me in so many ways.
Thank you, Lisa, for sharing this piece of your journey with me. If our words can help another let go, if we can help remind each other what is true…wow. Thanking God for new places of empathy and trust and peace. Bless you, friend. It was a true joy to meet you in Nebraska.
I don’t like that you have this particular challenge – but I do like that you can share with such honesty and be relate-able and put your faith into practice and in doing so – you give Him the glory. So that makes it all worthwhile.
Thank you, Fiona. Your words — and you — are a blessing.
It’s this, and it’s everything you have written here: “I cannot will myself to feel peace no matter how hard I try, but when I trust, I begin to feel the Holy, releasing and untwisting the knots.” I don’t know how you do it, flesh out in such beautiful, down-to-earth prose such lofty things as trust and peace, but you do. It has to be God singing in you. It just has to.