For several years I have struggled with anxiety while flying. Truly, I despise being trapped in a plane.
There's just something about being crammed into a huge metal coffin with wings, along with hundreds of other sweaty people for hours on end that messes with my head.
I'm weirdly fragile like that. A delicate petal really.
Before you offer your home remedy, I've tried them all - healing prayer, relaxation techniques, healing prayer, psychologists, healing prayer, drugs... You name it, I've plonked down money to see if it'll give me that breakthrough I desperately want.
Did I mention healing prayer?
I'm grateful for the progress I've made, but I'm at the point where I feel a LOT like poor old Paul and his "thorn in the flesh" - which God didn't completely take away, for some cruel (but probably wise) reason.
So, it's something of an irony that I have to fly so much to lead the Alongsiders movement. We're at the point now where there are exciting things brewing in at least 10 countries around Asia, and now God help us, many hours' flight away - in East Africa!
I'm telling you, all those places, all those new beginnings, represent a NASTY number of flights. I'm talking 12 flights this month alone.
The anxiety starts several days before...
I'll be online, religiously checking the seat configuration and the plane layout...fretting if it's a full flight or small plane.
Sleep gets harder.
Discipline gets softer.
Chips? chocolate? Bring them over here right now and shush your mouth.
Fingernails get bitten too short. Painfully short.
I'm just on edge.
So, why? Why, why, WHY torture myself like this?
Why repeatedly do something I fear?
Because I've learnt to look at my suffering from a different perspective.
I know this suffering has a purpose.
My anxiety is valid. It is VERY real.
But when I focus on the reason for flying - to work towards a world where no vulnerable child suffers, I have just enough courage to overcome the fear for one more flight. One. More. Flight.
The anxiety that I feel as they call for passengers to board...
that sick feeling that I get as I trudge towards the door...
the occasional rising panic that I try to suppress as they pull the heavy plane door closed...
This emotional turmoil may just be worth enduring if it means that a child living somewhere in poverty, abuse or enslavement will be reached - and experience the radical love and welcome of Jesus.
It's worth it to reach one child. I remind myself of that.
I picture the kids. The ones I know and the ones I don't. And I do it for them.
Though each flight is an emotional war and I don't know how long God will give me the strength to keep making this choice. I keep hoping that maybe one day I'll see that breakthrough I long for...
But until such time, I will cling to the words of Viktor Frankl, "There was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.”
I don't know what fear, anxiety or obstacle you struggle with. I don't know what threatens to stop you serving God.
But know this. There is no need to be ashamed of tears. Do what you need to be healthy. And when the time comes...have courage and take a step forward for the right reasons, because God has called you. The tears may tumble, but you will be taking a step forward anyway.
And Jesus promises this - "My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness."
Somehow, you'll make it through.
[If you'd like to read the whole story, grab an advance copy of my new book, Subversive Jesus coming out April 26.]