By: Wandra Najat-Felecia Chenault,MSW
There’s a part of me that is brave and the brave part of me has shown up every time I step up to the plate and put my faith over my fear but, in order for me to step to the plate I am usually pushed after being agitated by some situation, some event or someone. Recently I stepped to the plate after having a get to know you lunch with a gentleman I’d met through a third party. We talked and talked and he mentioned his travels to various continents, he showed me the pictures in his cell phone and I felt morphed since I’d only visited places in the US, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. I tried impressing him as I told him about my adult children who’ve had extensive international travel. I explained that I had a fear of flying, why I’d actually only flown to Canada, Atlanta, Asheville, NYC, Orlando and California (there was so much turbulence on that flight to Cali that I caused a commotion on the plane and stewardess held my hand and offered me free drinks), but, I loved travel – just not flying. He seemed aloof like he couldn’t relate.
So I felt a little embarrassed by my lack of global experience and explained that there were two places I wanted so much to go, Africa and Paris but, flying overseas just seemed too far, too long on the plane, too scary —but as I tried to explain, he shrugged me off, like dandruff. Here was my someone, my agitator. I don’t know if I was angered or inspired by him but I stepped to the plate as I now had a mission. After a month, I was on a cruise crossing the Atlantic on a ship to North Africa and Spain that would debark in Barcelona. Once in Spain, I was able to travel to France by land and in Paris, I caught my flight back to the US.
During my entire trip, I mentally blocked the travel home since I knew I knew I had to fly and I did s good job. The day of reckoning arrived The jet was one of the largest,with a good safety record but it was still eight hours across the Atlantic. I’d thought about getting a prescription but I don’t like drugs and once to Florida I took Benadryl and it didn’t put me to sleep but just left me sluggish with red eyes and miserable for the rest on the vacation. So I was determined to fly back to the US alert and oriented. When the plane took off I was fine but we began to experience turbulence three hours into the flight. I tried not to panic. I held on to my seat and began to pray, “God, you made the earth and sky and are the Master of the air, winds and seas.” At some point the turbulence subsided and I actually fell asleep. After waking up, the plane was so quiet so steady I couldn’t tell if we were still flying and 90 minutes later we landed at Kennedy.
My agitator was simply the impetus I needed to address my fear and live out my dreams. I am always amazed how God allows the same tools that could be used to break you down, to build you up instead. Over the years I’d been told that my fear of flying had to do with my control issues or that it was because I didn’t understand how aviation works—the science of what kept the plane in the air and so I spent time reading to understand how planes worked, I used logic related to safety of air travel versus other travel, I even tried self-hypnosis. When I decided to go on my transatlantic journey I realized that it was most important for me to put Faith over Fatalism and Fear and that worked for me.
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