Friday, October 2, 2009

Mile High

I have a confession. I have a teensy little fear of flying.

Now when I say teensy, I mean something along the lines of life altering, paralyzing, mind boggling fear. That kind of teensy.

I only flew once as a child. I was in elementary school and my best friend Cammie was moving to New Mexico. It was a summer of firsts - I took my first trip without my parents, played with sparklers for the first time in Cammie's grandmother's backyard, and I actually learned to spell Albuquerque correctly. But the most monumental first was obviously the plane ride. I took the road trip from Dallas to Albuquerque with Cammie's family and was scheduled to fly home a week later. I don't remember if this was the plan all along, or if I got scared and begged somewhere along the way, but my parents flew out for a night, we spent a day together in Albuquerque and then they flew back with me. The only memory I have of the flight is sitting in between mom and dad gripping both of their hands. How do you know to be scared of flying at that age? Surely I hadn't seen all of the made for tv plane crash movies yet.

I didn't fly again until college, and that was just a few 45 minute jumps from Dallas to Little Rock. The first big challenge came in my twenties when my girlfriends had an offer for a free week in a friend's condo in Akumal, Mexico. I was pretty sure I was going to die, but I made the decision then and there that I was not going to let my fear keep me from having amazing experiences. And a girls trip to Mexico definitely fell into that category. Guess what? I lived! See?

I also lived through a trip to Vegas, Denver, another round in Mexico, and then Disney World over the next few years. Who knew, right?  Look at all I would have missed if I had let that fear win:

(Click to zoom - the center Grand Canyon pic is amazing!)

But the problem is, I was still convinced every. single. time. that stepping on that plane was going to be the last thing I did. Like, to the extent that one time, back in my single days, I even wrote a three page letter to an ex-boyfriend with specific instructions to a friend to give it to him if I didn't make it back. Um, yeah. I always stress before the trip, resign myself to dying, then get really excited the moment we land safely, enjoy every minute of what I assume are my last days (before the flight home kills me), and then finally breathe a sigh of relief and thank God for my life when I land back at the airport at home.  Crazy much? Yes.  

I have a little trip planned to go see the lovely Beth with Miss Amelia next week, and I'm already on the death march. When I least expect it, a twinge of panic will grip me as the thought of my upcoming flight passes through my mind. And all the prayer, statistics, and yes, therapy, in the world have not been able to conquer this one. I'm working on a new mantra though, and it's actually a pretty life changing one at that.

It's a borrowed mantra, but I don't think the lender would mind. He's the pastor at my old church, Irving Bible, and he is currently battling cancer. He is a man I respect and admire and he has a phenomenal church that reaches out to people in ways I haven't seen all that often in life. He's also a motorcycle rider, which you really wouldn't figure him for at first glance, and he applies the same philosophy to his cancer treatment that he does to his motorcyle riding. In an email update to his congregation, Pastor Andy recently wrote the following: "If God is finished with me, nothing can save me. If He’s not finished with me, nothing can touch me." Now at it's core, it's not a new concept to me as a believer in Christ, but there was just something about the way he worded it that boiled it down to something different for me. And it got me to would I live differently if I applied that to my life on a daily basis? I've battled fear on various levels for years, and through some really horrific circumstances in the not so distant past. So it's my new challenge to myself to try to live those words. And frankly, it's a challenge every single day. But the first big mountain is this flight.

So each time that little chill creeps up the back of my neck, and plays all manner of airline disasters across the screen in my mind, I tell it nothing can touch me...and it quiets down a bit. I'm hoping it shuts up entirely by the time I step on the plane, but even if that's not the case, maybe Amelia can at least exit the plane with all of the bones in her hand intact. That would be progress for my flying companions.

Baby steps, people.


  1. I'm glad you're not letting the fear win. Next time I visit you've got to show me those Grand Canyon pics. I've either missed them entirely or forgotten seeing them.

  2. Great blog, Mary! You're such a good writer. did you do the little photo collage thing. Love it!

  3. Thanks! I appreciate the encouragement! :) I made the collage in Publisher - just copied the pictures in, arranged them, then selected all and saved it as one picture.

  4. I would say I am looking forward to flying with you, Mary, but I'm not sure that would be the truth! I will be praying for you. Glad you have a new mantra! And I never heard about that three page letter for your ex... that's hilarious!!