Fear/Anxiety: Letting Go

It was a completely clear day in St. Louis, not a cloud in the sky and I was filled with

screen-shot-2020-04-29-at-10.40.24-am
Jill Hudson

nervous excitement.  I was sixteen years old and the only other time I had ever been in a plane was a short flight to Chicago with a friend and her grandmother when I was young.  Motion sickness, which I knew could sometimes be a problem for me, was my only concern.  That early afternoon I boarded the extremely small plane with my friend from school, Erin, and her dad, an experienced pilot who had formerly served in the Air Force.  I was invited to go along with them as he took his plane out for a short flight and I was thrilled for this new, exciting experience. 

Screen Shot 2020-07-06 at 5.39.54 PMAs the tiny plane took off and I looked down on the land below. I remember being in awe of the view and the beauty of the landscape. The feeling of being so tiny, surrounded by that magnificent blue sky, as we glided alone through the air was pretty amazing.  Things were going well, but now comes the point in the story when my family would say, as they frequently do with one of my crazy stories, “Only you, Jill (insert eye roll).”

Erin’s dad unexpectedly offered to give me a chance at the stick and fly the plane.  God love him, he was probably trying to give me even more of a one-of-a-kind experience, but little did he know what he was in store for. Panic gripped me at the very thought of my inexperienced self being in control of that plane for even a second (my hands are sweating even as I type this).  After protesting several times, I was like, “Why not?” and pushed myself to do it. I’m sure it was a completely safe situation as I sat up front next to Erin’s dad as he explained the controls to me and I held onto the stick making slight adjustments with his guidance. At first I was thinking, “Wow, this isn’t so bad,”  which, for some reason, quickly  turned to thoughts like “I just want this to be over, like NOW!“ and “We are going down at any second!”  Also, I didn’t want to say anything and, I really couldn’t put my finger on it, but I started feeling REALLY strange.  

Honestly, Erin’s family probably still laughs about this next part, twenty-seven years later. I must have gotten really quiet and had a funny look on my face because they both kept asking me if I was okay.  All I could do was shake my head no. I was suddenly filled with such an all-encompassing, paralyzing fear that I could not think straight.  My arms, legs and face were  completely numb.  I felt like my tongue swelling and I could not even talk AT ALL.  To make matters worse, my feet and hands started spasming and I could not move my fingers to take my hands off of the control stick.

I kid you not, Erin’s dad had to literally pry each of my fingers off of that stick so that he could land the plane.  When we were back on the ground again, he then had to lift me out of the plane and help me lay down in the back of his car so that they could take me home. How embarrassing!! I can only guess what their conversation was like around the dinner table that night!

Screen Shot 2020-07-06 at 5.40.46 PMLooking back at this weird experience, my family and I often laugh, but to be honest I probably hyperventilated and experienced an extreme panic attack. Now that was quite a bout of fear!  When I examine my personality today, I can see that I am a person who likes to be in control.  Gripping tightly to those controls and relying only on my own strength is, I guess, my way of keeping my anxiety in check.  But, the problem with this is, I alone am not enough to overcome fear.  I am realizing that I will NEVER BE enough AND I don’t have to be, because Jesus is.  On a daily basis I need to place my trust in Him, letting go of those controls and letting God take over. On that plane, I knew that I was in no way equipped to handle flying on my own and my response was immobilizing fear.  Likewise, I now am beginning to understand that I am not equipped to single-handedly take on all of the problems life throws at me and, as a child of God, I don’t have to. I am reminded of this verse from Isaiah:

Isaiah 12:2 (NIV)  Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.  The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.

Screen Shot 2020-07-06 at 5.41.30 PMHonestly, giving up that false-sense of control will probably always be a struggle for me, but it feels so much better when I go to God in prayer and let him lift those burdens off of my shoulders.  Because, let’s face it, God is the one who is ultimately in control of everything and I am so grateful for it! So instead of responding in fear when handling one of life’s challenges, I can trade that for hope and experience the peace that only God can bring.

14 thoughts on “Fear/Anxiety: Letting Go

  1. Kelly Seim

    Thank you for sharing your honest story about fear. It is always a great reminder to let things go and give them to God.

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      1. Laura Storm

        I love this story because I think we can all relate – especially during the times we are living in! Sometimes I don’t even realize how hard I’m gripping the controls until the plane starts going down and Jesus gently pulls my hands away so He can save me. Your story helps me think about areas in my life I need to give over to Him right now!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Erinn Aug

    Thank you for sharing your story about fear. I often struggle with that “need to be in control all the time or I’m going to lose it” feeling and have learned that the simple mantra – Let Go…Let God has been really helpful and calming in those situations.

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  3. Mary S

    very scary to have a panic attack like that. what is interesting is how your gripping so hard for control would have only made things worse and not helped the situation. a metaphor for life I guess. 🙂

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  4. reading your story was like watching one of those suspense thrillers….you kept me gripped, literally….and wow…what an experience that must have been….miles up and paralysed with fear…..phew….i applaud you for the dare and also erin’s dad and the rest who remained calm enough to handle the situation…teaches us not to take anything for granted, especially when you’re way up there and there’s not much that can be done..but thankfully we have our God…our Glorious Lord who is at the wheel….and no matter what our situation…he knows how to land us back to safety…..

    Liked by 1 person

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