Before I flew out to California three weeks ago I hadn’t flown anywhere in thirteen years.
Because…and read my lips…I. HATE. FLYING.
I. FEAR. FLYING.
And not only that…I. AM. HEARING. IMPAIRED and I. WAS. FLYING. ALONE.
Y’all, I. WAS. SERIOUSLY. AFFLICTED.
Like, near the depths of despair.
Okay. So this may be a slight exaggeration.
But A.F.F.L.I.C.T.I.O.N. is the only word I feel accurately describes my state of being.
There. I said it.
Judge me if you want, but if you have an ounce of mercy in your pitiful hearts you will grace me instead.
I once read somewhere that most of our fears are ‘learned.’ We’re born with only two; fear of falling and fear of loud noises. I really don’t fear loud noises. My hearing impairment could obviously have something to do with that, but maybe the reason many of us have a fear of heights is because of that ingrained fear of falling and that could very well be why some of us really do NOT like to fly.
Most of us have at least one fear, maybe more, so even though our phobias may be different we can still understand the feelings and emotions behind them. It’s a terrible malady. If not for the grace of God I would never have gotten on that plane all by myself. Can you hear me in my whiny childish voice, “May I have a babysitter to hold my hand, please?” ‘Cause I seriously wanted one.
So maybe you can understand why it was such a BIG deal for me to ‘GO’ where God said ‘GO’, to ‘DO’ what God said ‘DO’, to ‘FLY’ where God said ‘FLY.’
The only way I could kiss my sweet husband good-bye at the airport and enter the unknown alone was because in my heart of hearts, I knew God was going before me, God would not leave me comfortless, and…
God would be good to me. He could not, would not, disappoint me.
At the Raleigh airport I was comforted by very gracious airline employees. After Raleigh…well, let me just say…airline personnel don’t have a lot of sympathy for people like me. I’m neither completely deaf nor totally blind. I’m kinda caught in the middle. I can hear sounds, but I don’t have clarity. Forget trying to decipher anything that comes through a sound system. I need visuals. I need to see a face, read lips…you know the story.
Drawing from my life experiences, most people think that if you have hearing aids you don’t need the aid of people. To my dismay, airline personnel in Dallas couldn’t have cared less when I asked for their assistance in telling me when it was my turn to board. They pretty much forgot all about me.
I’ve had to learn in life to draw on what I know to be true about God and I knew He had not forgotten me,
“Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.” Isaiah 49: 15 & 16
I knew that if God had gone before me then He had prepared the hearts of certain individuals to stand in the gap for me. I just had to find them.
So, in that big, bustling Dallas airport swarming with humanity, I appealed to the God whose eyes were on me and scanned the crowd at the gate. You can tell so much by looking at faces, and thanks be to God, He directed me to an older man with a kind face. (I like kind.)
“Please, sir, would you mind telling me when they call Group 2? I’m hearing impaired and I can’t understand a thing they’re saying over that intercom.”
It was at that moment I realized something I almost forgot…the God who goes before me always makes a way in the journey. It’s just not always the way I expect. In a hearing-seeing world where I don’t hear and see like most people around me I have a part to play. I have to let God be God and trust Him enough to give me a push in the right direction when I need it.
God’s direction for me was to ‘get over myself’ and ‘get under His wing.’
“He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge…” Psalm 91:4
There’s something about taking this journey with God that boosted my confidence and bolstered my courage in a way I’ve not experienced in a long, long time. There’s something about the way God made Himself known to me in very personal ways. Like in the Ontario airport on the return trip home when He guided me to a sweet senior woman. (I like sweet.)
We struck up a conversation and when I found out she was over 80 years old and flying alone I was properly put in my place, I can tell you that! But, it was in the more-daunting Dallas airport that God reminded me of something I’d almost forgotten,
He hems me in.
“You hem me in behind and before, and You lay Your hand upon me.” Psalm 139:5
As God set my sights on a young couple with compassion on their faces (I like compassion), I sat down beside them and made my appeal with no more fear behind the words. When it was our turn to board, as only God could instruct, this woman said to me,
“Now you let my husband go in front of you and I’ll go behind you. We’ll guide you along the way.”
The tears are flowing even now because this memory is so precious to me.
I may not always know what the journey holds, but when I trust in the goodness of God, He never disappoints me. His goodness shows up in kindness, in sweetness, and in the compassion of those whose hearts He has prepared to meet me.
I went from affliction to consolation. I’m so glad God never tires of reminding me, “Nina, I not only go before you, but I have your back. I will not let you fall, even though you fear the flight. I will uphold you with the palms of my hand and you will find refuge under my wings.”
And I ask you, who needs a babysitter when God Himself hems me in?