Have you ever wanted to fly? For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been intrigued with the idea of flight. When visiting the park as a child, I loved getting on the swings. Sometimes I’d swing so high that I could see the tops of the trees. Then, when I was at an altitude that satisfied me, I would jump off the swing. For a moment time stood still, and I was actually flying… I loved it.
As an adult, I’m still captivated by flight. Airports fascinate me. The sights, the sounds, the souvenirs, the opportunities to observe people, the overpriced food that I hesitantly purchase, and the bookstores. Oh, the bookstores! Studies have shown that there is a 99.3% chance that I will purchase a new book while I’m at the airport. While I love traveling, especially via air, I realize there are other areas in my life where I actually have a fear of flying. That the fear of flying can prevent you from arriving at some destinations.
One day while waiting to go through the TSA checkpoint at the airport, I began to think about how building faith and living a life of purpose is, in many ways, parallel to preparing to take a flight. Essentially, it looks like this:
First, decide where you’re headed and purchase your tickets. Where do you want to go (in life)? What steps will you take to get there (in faith)? Remember, some places require you to travel by air to reach them. Be proud of yourself for facing your fear of flying by doing research AND taking action.
After that, take time to pack your bags. The only thing worse than over-packing is under-packing. What is the climate like where you’re taking your trip? What to you plan to do? Some pieces of luggage are too big (and too heavy) for you to take as a carry-on. Are there things in your life that need to be checked? What baggage are you carrying around that’s too heavy? Is it yours, or someone else’s?
Next, realize that it’s not uncommon to have a layover or to experience a delayed flight when traveling. Isn’t it funny how we find ways to make the best of a layover, yet we often allow a delayed flight to frustrate us? If I had to guess, I’d say it’s because we prepare for layovers, but delayed flights often are unexpected. Sometimes we even approach God as if our life has been one delayed flight after another. (I know I’ve felt that way.) But God’s plans are never delayed. While you wait, try not to get distracted from your destination.
When boarding, listen to the flight attendants as they share and demonstrate the safety protocols. The part that grabs my attention the most is the section about oxygen masks. The flight attendants remind you to ‘…secure your own oxygen mask before helping others. Keep in mind that even if the mask doesn’t inflate, oxygen is still flowing.’ Because I grew up in the South, I often find myself wanting to yell “Preach!” or “I know that’s right!” But, if I’m honest with myself, I could do a much better job of implementing this advice on the ground. Taking care of yourself allows you to effectively care for others. Inversely, many of us could benefit from being intentional about caring for ourselves like we care for others.
Finally, enjoy your trip. For some, that may mean creating a detailed itinerary for each day which includes outfits, meals, and excursions. For others, that may mean sleeping in and approaching each day moment by moment. Whatever your preference, I hope you take time to think about how you can strategically implement soul-filling practices into your everyday life—not just on vacation.
So, now I’ll ask, are you afraid of flying? Not literally flying in an airplane—but figuratively flying. Flying towards your dreams? Flying in your faith? Flying over the expectations of others? Flying past perfection?
The fear of flying can manifest in multiple ways. Sometimes it looks like:
- Thinking you are too old, or too young, to begin that brilliant idea you can’t stop thinking about.
- Keeping all your ideas tucked away in a notebook or journal and never implementing them.
- Telling yourself you can’t do something because you don’t feel “qualified” enough.
- Never taking action on an idea because you’re “just not ready yet.”
- Constantly comparing yourself to others because you feel like “at this point in your life you should be soooooo much farther ahead than you are.”
In full transparency, those are all real thoughts from my own head and heart. Some of the lessons that I’ve shared today were learned years ago, but I’m actively learning many of these lessons in real time. Overcoming a fear of flying takes courage, but I believe we’re brave enough to take the first step. See you on the plane!
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