For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
Anxiety sure crept up on me this time, and totally caught me off-guard. I have been looking forward to our trip to Hawaii since last August when my husband surprised me and told me he had booked a flight to Oahu for a week. Just the two of us.
About a week before we were scheduled to leave, uncontrollable anxiety plagued me like never before. We had planned ahead of time to leave Jake and Lilly with Grammy and Pop, so that was not the source of my worry. I left both babies when they were just six months old for a girl’s weekend, so it certainly wasn’t the first time I’d been away from them. Cody and I even left them just this past February for a weekend getaway with some friends to Fredericksburg. So the complete assault of fear and anxiety totally threw me off.
My mother-in-law was so understanding when I told her that I would be calling her every day right before Jake and Lilly’s bedtime, just to check in. I know. I’m usually not like that. But something was different this time. Maybe it was the fact that we were leaving for a whole week, and we were putting an entire ocean of distance between us and them. Cody’s response to my irrational behavior was, “Well, at least you’ll be drinking while we’re there! They’ll be fine!”
As we waited for our flight to board, Cody pulled me close and we prayed for safe travels, for the kids to behave for their grandparents, and I’m sure he silently asked God to calm his quirky wife’s nerves. Those words he did not speak aloud, but I’m sure God heard them.
As our plane took off, I started praying, again. I had eight hours to cover all of my fears and hand them over, one by one. I can just hear Him saying the exact same thing my husband says, “Here we go again. Didn’t we already cover all of this? Why are we still talking about it?” But maybe, just maybe, He understood how hard it was for me to leave my precious children while I flew off to a beautiful place so many miles away. Maybe He knew I would be talking to him most of the way to my destination, and maybe He didn’t mind at all.
When we were about halfway there, I think I took my first deep breath. We were hovering over the Pacific Ocean, halfway between California and Hawaii, or at least that’s what the huge screen in front of my seat was telling me. I’m not sure why anyone needs to know at any given moment while in flight the exact altitude of the aircraft or what body of water you are flying over. That little monitor full of information did nothing to calm my fears!
As I sat there trying my hardest to relax and trust that God would take care of my family, I realized that this was too big for me. He would have to help me understand and see it His way. My biggest fear was that something was going to happen to us or that something was going to happen to them. That was what I feared. Not how they would behave. Not what kind of weather we’d have all week. Not any of that. But right in the middle of my restless prayer, God gave me peace.
I was reading Kay Warren’s new book, Choose Joy, and was about halfway through when I left on this trip. God knew I would be packing it to take along to read on the plane, and He knew that at the moment I desperately needed Him to take control of my out-of-control fears, I would read a portion of this book where Kay explains a fear of her own. A specific fear. A fear of flying on an airplane and leaving her kids and her grandkids miles away. The exact same situation I was in. The entire chapter could have been a page out of my own journal. And she explained the peace God gave to her as this: “Even if it’s not okay, I will be okay. I will be okay no matter what happens because God is with me and he will be enough.” Instead of continuing to tell myself it was going to be alright, I decided to listen to what God was telling me… that I would be alright, no matter what happens.
And I was alright. This is the view captured on Cody's phone as we peered out the window of the plane. I cannot tell you how relieved I was looking down on the first piece of land we'd even had a glimpse of in hours. I let myself enjoy my husband and the beauty God created in this amazing place. Due to the five hour time change and the fact that we rented a Jeep and drove everywhere with the top down, I never managed to make a single one of those before-bedtime calls. It was either too late or too noisy to call while in the car. My mother-in-law sent pictures and text messages which meant so much to me. In my panic, I guess I forgot that she is a mom too, and she knew exactly what I was feeling. Grammy’s daily assurances that “everything was going great” helped me relax and enjoy our trip and let my kids enjoy theirs. Jake and Lilly were on an adventure of their own, and I know they loved their vacation as much as the two of us did!
I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4 (NLT)