I enjoy traveling, but I have a history of flights not being on time. On my first missions trip, the flight to Nicaragua was delayed half a day so that we didn’t arrive till late that night. On my second missions trip, my team’s return flight from Heart Butte (a speed-bump-sized airport in Montana) was delayed for over 10 hours. Delays of a few hours have happened so often I don’t remember the details anymore.
So you can understand why I felt nervous last week, watching a tropical system form in the Atlantic and knowing it was headed for the Carolinas – ironically, the scheduled stop for my layover to Dallas.
I could feel the knot forming in my stomach. My flight from Tampa left early, but what if I were stranded in Charlotte – or didn’t even get there? What if I missed my connecting flight? What if I didn’t reach Dallas in time to speak at the graduation? I would feel awful.
To my relief, the tropical system stayed off the Carolina coast for my flight on Friday, and both flights were perfectly on time. I reached Dallas and the graduation without a glitch.
True, I shouldn’t have wasted my time worrying in the first place, but I know I’m not the only girl who ever gets anxious.
The English teacher in me demands I take this moment to clarify that eager and anxious are two different emotions. Eager indicates excitement (positive emotion), and anxious indicates worry (negative emotion).
So what makes us anxious?
I don’t want to trivialize the many concerns of life, but may I suggest two broad categories:
- Things we can control
- Things we can’t
To stick with my airplane analogy, something I could control was ordering the ticket or picking an airline. Potential worries could be cost or quality of service. Things I couldn’t control included flight delays and weather.
We could apply the same principle to any number of life events: taking a final, going on a first date, making a doctor’s appointment, etc. You get the idea.
Put anxiety to the test
Several years ago, my brother gave me some advice that’s helped (though not eliminated) my frustration and worry when events get out of hand.
His prescription to avoid anxiety is as follows:
- If you can do something about it, do something about it.
- If you can do nothing about it, then don’t stress about it.
It sounds ridiculously simple, but try it. If we can do something to deal with the problem, there’s no point wasting precious time whining about it. We need to put on our big-girl-shoes and face it. However, we shouldn’t let ourselves get “worked up” if circumstances are out of our control.
Ultimately, we need to give our worries to the only One who can control the outcome. Philippians 4:6-7 says:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (NKJV).
The flight home
The flight to Texas had been so seamless that I felt fairly relaxed when I returned to the airport for the flight home. That was probably a good thing, because I no sooner passed security and finished lunch than I learned that my first flight was cancelled due to weather – and I had to wait in a line for two hours just to talk to someone at the gate to reschedule my flight.
Annoying? Yes. Tiring? Absolutely. But not the end of the world.
I applied my brother’s advice, plugged in my ear buds, and listened to a book on Audible to tune out the crying babies and swarms of people around me.
There were moments I didn’t feel like a saint – when a tall man cut me off in line and when I realized the lady behind the desk hadn’t actually given me a ticket but sent me to another line at customer service – but I didn’t lose it. And I finished the book.
So the next time you’re facing a problem and you feel the worry start to rise, put your situation through the anxiety test and commit Philippians 4:6-7 to memory.
Then, be prepared to plug in your ear buds and wait.