Fear is a dream killer!
This is a cautionary tale.
I know this has been the case for generations, but it seems to be more prevalent these days. Fear rules our lives. Fear of what may happen determines what we do with our lives. I’m telling you from experience, fear is a dream killer.
I have always had the dream of being a pilot. Not a big commercial jet but having my own private jet and taking my family, friends and myself to places that are too far to drive. This to me was the ultimate of freedom. Soaring through the air to anywhere we wanted to go.
I must interject here that I have always been terrified of heights. But for some reason when I’m in an airplane I don’t have the apprehension. It’s not really the height that is the problem, it’s the possibility of falling from that height.
Well, I finally got the opportunity to pursue my dream of being a pilot. At the time I was working with my dad in the church he and I started. I was the worship pastor and the executive pastor. It was a small church. We had a man and woman start attending. They were senior citizens, but they were a blast. The woman was especially interesting. She wasn’t Pentecostal but the reason she stayed at our church was a statement my dad made during his sermon one Sunday. He said, “if you can’t have fun at church, there’s no sense in coming.” She was all about fun. She was loud and raucous. But she was a hoot. She loved to cook and felt it was her ministry. She asked my dad one Sunday after he had talked about everybody having a ministry if she could start baking cookies and bring them to church for people to eat as they were leaving every morning. If you know my dad at all you can imagine his response. My dad never met a cookie he didn’t like. He gave her permission and said a blessing over her ministry and the “Cookie Lady” started serving us with cookies. They were never store bought. Most times they were still warm when she arrived.
For some reason, she took a liking to me. I think it’s because I was very transparent and honest. Some may call it blunt, but I call it honest. She liked me so much that when her husband passed away, she asked me to do the graveside service. Neither one of them saw the sense in a big church funeral. That would have been too pretentious. She told me to say a few words and put him in the ground. Just no-nonsense people. There was never any pretense in either of them.
It just so happens when her husband was in the Air Force, she took flying lessons from his buddies that were instructors. They were both pilots. She was talking about flying back in the day and I mentioned it was always my dream to fly. That’s all I had to say. The next time we were together she said, “sign up for lessons and I’ll pay for your first one.” I was later to find out she intended to pay for all of them. I signed up and bought all the gear I needed and began my lessons. It was thrilling. I would study the lesson online then go to the airport and practice what I had just learned. This was going very well. In fact, my instructor said that I would be a great pilot because I had good instincts. Lesson after lesson she would pay for each as I took them. Then the time came to study and learn about a stall. This is where the airplane loses lift and you must recover. The way we practiced was we would turn the nose of the plane at such an angle the air was no longer under the wings, so the night lane wasn’t able to stay up. Once this happens the nose of the plane drops straight down due to the weight of the engine and you begin to fall. My job as a pilot was to pull back on the controls enough to get the plane level and regain lift. Do I need to remind you what my fear was? Not so much the height but falling from that height. The day came for me to practice this maneuver. I knew this would be the make or break lesson. Everything after that was pretty easy in my eyes. I did the online lesson and scheduled my flight time. The instructor and I climbed in the aircraft. He had me take off and fly us to a designated location. I brought the plane to the altitude he specified then he took the controls. He would do the maneuver first then it would be my turn. He turned the nose of the plane up and started ascending. He kept increasing the angle. There are two whistles on the wings. One on each end. They only begin to whistle when you are at an unsafe angle. They began to start screaming. They got louder and louder. Until it happened, the plane lost lift. The nose of the plane dropped straight down, and we began to fall out of the sky. Mind you this only went on for a few seconds as he recovered very quickly, but I was experiencing my worst nightmare. Something tripped in my brain and I began to freak out. I told him to get me down. He tried to calm me by telling me to open my window and get some fresh air. I opened my window and told him to get me down. He said let’s fly over the lake where there is less turbulence and I told him again to get me down. He tried several times to calm me down, but I insisted he had to get me out of the air. That was the last lesson I ever took. Cookie Lady told me to keep trying but my fear had paralyzed me. A few years later she passed away. The one person willing to invest in my dream was gone.
Fear had taken my dream. I had let the momentary actualization of what might happen to stop me from becoming what I had always wanted to be. Did I become a bad person after that experience? No. Did I fall on hard times and become homeless? No. In fact, life went on as usual. I kept leading worship. I kept being the executive pastor for the church. I did Cookie Lady’s graveside service as she requested. She didn’t stop loving me. She didn’t think any less of me. Nobody did. But I did. I began to see myself as this weak fearful person who couldn’t finish what he started. It took me years to recover from that experience. It’s only been in the last few years that I started facing fears more and more. I haven’t overcome all of them. That heights one still looms large in my mind. But I will conquer that one before I die.
Don’t let fear kill your dream and you at the same time. Fears are usually things that never happen. They might, but usually, don’t. Don’t let what might happen to stop you from what you want to happen.
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