Never before. Not even once. Not even briefly. In my 30 years of life, I had never flown. My feet, literally though not always proverbially, have remained on the ground. Until recently.
Seven planes in 10 days. Weird, huh? Events had happened, opportunities opened, the path cleared, for me to head to St. Louis for the Joyce Meyer Women's Conference and then on to Boston for a week long freelance job. In between, I'd have layovers in Kansas City, Memphis, and Detroit. All together it meant seven planes in 10 days.
When God decides to move you, YOU MOVE.
People have asked me forever, "How is that possible you've never flown?" How? Oh it's easy. Don't go anywhere you can't walk, run, bike or drive. Tada. No plane.
You must understand, I'm a small-town country girl. My mother hates flying. And besides, we never had money for plane tickets. If we traveled, it meant saving and saving some more, cutting expenditures, working extra hours, and then going economy.
My father worked in construction. My mother was a homemaker. My brother, in his formative years, could eat Bill Gates out of house and home. My charm wasn't worth a dime. We were a working class family. My father always said, "We may not have anything nice, but that doesn't mean we can't take care of what we have. And be clean and neat."
That, in it's entirety, describes my childhood lifestyle. Clean and neat.
Flying was an extravagance for other people in other stations of life. We were the great American family with a station wagon or mini-van, hitting the national highways with "Holiday Road" as our theme song.
As I got older, I've attempted to fly. I really have. But every time I was scheduled to fly somewhere, it went wrong. EVERY TIME. The trip got canceled. The plans changed. I even attempted to sneak a ride onto a helicopter once, just to say I'd been off the ground other than on a trampoline. Let's just say it didn't work out.
My time had come. I was flying. Was I nervous about it? Of course I was. Are you kidding me? I was getting ready to say my goodbyes. Tara doesn't fly. It's just something she has never done. It's predestined for me never to fly. Me in a plane was a sign of the Apocalypse.
It seems silly, I'm sure. In moments of mental clarity, it was a little silly to me too. But those moments didn't last long.
On a Thursday morning, I gathered my luggage and rolled through security. I sat at the gate and prepared.
Airports, by the way, are an entirely different world, a foreign country with books and t-shirts in plenty and people moving from one line to stand in another. I just tuned it all out and focused on this mission.
I had prayed for lack of fear. I had prayed for courage. It wasn't until the day earlier, I prayed for something different. I prayed to remember God.
In the midst of this milestone, this unconquerable unknown, this silent fear, I began to doubt everything, even God's character. Why was I getting on a plane NOW? Of all the years I've tried, all the many attempts I've made, all the failed energy, He had literally handed every detail to me. I was meant to do this, no doubt. He wanted me to go. Yet I was restless with anxiety.
Why? Because I had forgotten Him. I really had. I had forgotten His mercy, His love, His protection, even His understanding. For many, flying is no big deal. It may seem trivial, an unsubstantiated fear. That's okay. I met a woman recently who is petrified of worms. WORMS. That seems utterly ridiculous to me. The thing is, GOD, in His deep and unyielding empathy of the human heart, cares about her fear. And He cares about mine too.
I made it through seven flights. Some were pleasant. Some were not. Some were on time. Some were not.
Each time I felt any fear or trepidation, I took a moment to remember God because I knew He was in full knowledge of me. I was talking to Him once, moments after a more unpleasant flight and minutes before taking off again. The plane was revving, the seat belt sign on, we began to taxi down the runway, and here I was again taking to the air.
'I'm not really looking forward to this God. That last flight wasn't so much fun. I don't want to be stressed out and wired. Will you help me?'
And he answered rather bluntly, as He always does, as I love it when He does, 'Tara, I'm either with you or I'm not. I'm either good or I'm not. What is your decision?'
I had no arguments for that. When God wants your fear to move, IT MOVES.
'Good point God. Nuf said. Now for my next question. What are they offering for snack options?'