Learning to Cope

Part Two

He left for training in the middle of the night, well, it was still dark anyway. He arrived already tired from lots of recent travel, but ready to learn and get this thing behind him. It was a new year and a new opportunity to put God to the test. He had prayed, studied and begun to implement the tools that God had given him to help him cope.

And this is where I want to talk to anyone out there who deals with anxiety, bad nerves, shyness, whatever you want to call it. We’ve dealt a lot with this subject at our house. My husband and I both have had bouts with it over the years we’ve been together.

It seems fear is relentless.

Once he arrived at his hotel room and got settled, he called home. He always does that, call home I mean. We are never far from his mind and family sounded really good to him right then. Then he hit the books again, class would start early tomorrow. It would be a long day.

After two and a half days of solid lectures, it was time to take the first part of the exam, the oral. You remember I told you they can ask any question they want and keep prodding until they get a satisfying answer. If you don’t think this is a big deal, just try reading a manual on EVERY SINGLE system that lives inside of an airplane. And then be ready to pretty much quote it on the command of a test examiner who will be critiquing every word.

It’s not leisure reading, trust me.

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Honestly, what he was headed into is not what I want tell you about, it’s what he did every day before this day arrived that made ALL the difference. He prayed. He didn’t just start praying a week or even a month before, he prayed every day for the whole year, for wisdom and for guidance on how to cope with his anxiety. And you know what, the Lord began to show him ways to overcome or at least walk through it and come out successful on the other side. Do you get what I am saying here? He didn’t wait until the last minute and start pleading for help; he prayed WAY AHEAD knowing the Lord would answer him in time.

Next, as the Lord spoke, he listened. He paid attention when others talked about their own experiences and he took the advice of some. One great find was the book “From Panic to Power” by Lucinda Bassett. Another pilot suggested this book and my husband walked three miles from his hotel to the nearest bookstore, bought it, and read it from cover to cover. After he was done, he knew God had begun answering his prayers by sending him such a helpful tool.

He was encouraged.

Please don’t get the wrong idea, my guy is VERY GOOD at his job, it’s just very stressful to sit in front of a panel of professionals who are trying to make you mess up without being a nervous wreck. And to fail or “bust” one of these tests is a big deal; you just don’t want to do it. I am thankful he is humble enough to allow me to share his story because we both feel that there are many who can relate to the feelings of near debilitating fear.

Even the best of us deal with it, fear is no respecter of persons.

Then he talked to a friend who suggested he should do a good cardio workout a few hours before the checkride to kind of wear himself out before the exam. Not so much that he would be overly fatigued, but enough to work off some nervous energy and lower stress levels; something to do with the “fight-or-flight response.” Sounds so simple, but it really does work. My husband practiced what it would take to work off some of the nervous energy without dulling his senses, and then he did exactly that on test day.

And he drinks LOTS of water.

It just helps.

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Taking these steps, and a few more that are personal to him, has made a HUGE difference. They are the main steps he takes to fight anxiety. And you know what? It works! It really does. He has learned to weave these steps into the everyday ins and outs of his life. He prays, he studies, he exercises, and he drinks(water). It’s no longer just something he does to get ready to combat anxiety in an important moment, it’s become his lifestyle.

He does his best to stay constantly prepared.

Staying prepared is CRITICAL to successful living.

Back to the story, I got up the morning after his test, waiting to hear how it all went. He was up late into the night and early morning taking it. I went to sleep praying for peace in his heart, and in my own. You know as a married couple you tend to carry one another’s burdens. I had been up a little while the next day when I got the celebratory text, “It went really, really well!!” I immediately shot up a prayer of thanks. Over the years God had slowly shown him how to deal with his fear and now one day at a time he is walking deeper and deeper in courage.

What was my epiphany? I realized by watching him live this out that learning the steps and implementing them was like a slow training. Not the kind of training like my husband takes to remain a proficient pilot, but rather a slow learning process that teaches you to walk in the new truths you’ve been taught one day at a time.

A slow reshaping of the mind.

I can appreciate when folks say to live fearlessly, I have actually said it myself a time or two. But, you know what I’ve realized? There is no such thing as living without fear; it comes upon us at the most unexpected times. What we CAN do is learn to implement the steps God teaches us so we don’t LIVE in fear. When we feel it beginning to take its familiar place in our hearts, we can pray, read, (the Bible is a great go-to), have physical activity and drink so our minds stay clear and strong.

And then when we are put to the test in life, we will be as prepared as we can be to face it.

Well, I think it’s pretty safe to say we’ve learned a lot more from aeronautical training around this house than just procedures and systems, we’ve learned how to live our lives better and with more courage.

Our God is just so practical, I love that about Him.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, training is over for another year! All went well in the oral and the simulator and we will start praying about next year with even more confidence.  If you see my guy around, be sure to ask him about  it, he loves a good story almost as much as me.

And now, I think we’ll celebrate with a glass of water.

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“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  Philippians 4:8 NIV

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

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