Our pilot friend, John Sinclair handed us upgraded tickets at the airport. He said we could sit with him in business class. He also had a first class ticket, which one of us could have. I was too scared to sit by myself so I declined. I couldn’t fly without holding Tony’s hand, so we all sat together. I burnt John’s ear off the entire trip with my silly questions. Every time there was a change in the sound of the engine, I asked him what was happening. I asked him about the pilots and why I should trust them to get such a huge, heavy piece of machinery into the sky and keep it there. What if one of them had a heart attack? What if both did? He answered patiently.
During some mild turbulence, I stopped talking and started sweating. I wanted absolute silence. I needed to listen for anything that would indicate we were going to crash. John talked to the air steward who asked me to follow him. He took me into the cockpit and left me with the captain and co-pilot. They were happy for the company. I was amazed to see them facing each other and chatting over cups of coffee. It was still turbulent and I expected them to have their hands on the wheel or at least watching where we were going. I mean, there were all kinds of things to crash into, right? I asked them lots of questions and they didn’t laugh. That was helpful. My last question was, “So, why aren’t there any parachutes on these planes?” They looked at each other and decided to tell me the truth. “Lady, if we fell from this height, no-one would survive.” He was so relaxed about it. No sign of panic, just really matter-of-fact. Then and there, in that little cockpit, I accepted the fact that if the plane crashed, I would die. Instantly; and a weird way, I felt better. It suddenly dawned on me that I wasn’t afraid of dying. That was settled when I was thirteen years old. I was just very afraid of the “how.”
I had seen too many plane crash movies. The most recent one was “Survival.” The plane crashed into snow-covered mountains. There were a handful of survivors who resorted to eating those who were less fortunate. The other movie was about a plane crashing into the ocean. The survivors spent the night in the deep with sharks circling underneath them. Most of them ended up as shark bait. I hated that idea. I didn’t want to eat Tony or be eaten by him and I definitely didn’t want to be eaten by a shark.
Once, on our way to Australia, we did a transit stop in Malaysia. It was a rough ride. I got off the plane shaking and crying. I told Tony that I wasn’t going to get on the next plane. I wanted him to leave me there and pick me up on the way home. I wasn’t hysterical or loud about it. I was just totally prepared to stay all by myself for however long it took. He patiently explained to me that wasn’t going to happen. I would need to get on a plane to get home to our kids anyway. No matter how scared I was, I had to get back on the plane.
As we were flying, I heard God gently but firmly say,” If you give in to this fear, you will affect your destiny and the destiny of your whole family.” I fought with fear and turbulence like they were the enemy. There was no way I wanted to give in to fear. I knew we were called to nations beyond India. The only way to get to those places was to fly. I needed to win the battle.
I had to nail one issue at a time. I had to get right down to why I was so afraid. Only then would I be able to board a plane without being convinced that the plane I was on, was the one that was going to crash that year.
It was illogical. It was base-less and limiting. It was to do with self-preservation. It was going to affect my destiny. i just couldn’t allow that to happen.