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From Fear to Love, A Flying Transformation

It has been a strange transformation, for Melina tells the funniest story of trying to coax Michael to actually board the commercial jet liner for which they had passes and tickets. Wise woman, earlier she had fed him tranquilizers. They walked down the Jetway and stood at the door of the plane.

“I can’t do it, Melina. I’m not getting on this plane.”

“Yes, you are, Michael. You are. Just a few more steps.”

The stewardess smiled, extended a hand and encouraged him. “Come on, Sir. You’ll be fine. Come on in.”

“I can’t. I cannot do this.”

“Yes, you can, Michael. We have bought the tickets and we are taking this trip.”

I wasn’t there, but quite well do I know Michael, my second-born, and I can plainly see his frantic blue eyes, white-rimmed with raw fear. He trembled, and his palms were sweaty.

Several minutes of this ensued, until finally the stewardess said, “You must come aboard now. Everyone else is seated and I have to close the door.”

I don’t know if it was shove by Melina and tug by Stewardess that finally got him aboard, but at last he was seated; agitated and fearful. The stewardess was kind, patted him, reassured him, and took him something to drink. A bit later, after Michael had finally settled down, the stewardess came to their seats and leaned over to speak to Melina. “Got any more of the tranquilizers?”

This phobia of flying became quite a problem for them, for his company, Buxton Drywall, has grown to now over 100 employees and Mike and Mel were older and could afford to travel more. In addition, every year, one of his suppliers perks them a fine trip to a different country of the world. He needed to be able to fly without such fear.

“What if you were to take flying lessons?” Mel asked once. “Maybe that would help you.”

“No!”

Finally, over the passage of years Michael became more comfortable with jet travel and even began to enjoy it. A couple of months ago, he spoke to Mel. “Think I’ll take flying lessons. Kind of appeals to me now.”

And he did. And Monday he soloed. And the instructor is very complimentary of his skills, saying he is a natural at flying.

We arrived in Lake Havasu yesterday, and one of the first things Mike said to us was, “I’ll take you to see my plane tomorrow.” He glowed with talk of flying and how much he enjoyed soaring through the skies. It is amazing to hear him speak so, given his previous dread of flying.

Last evening, as we dined in a charming Italian place, a gentleman walked by our table, saw Mike and Mel and stopped to speak. After introductions, we learned we had met Mike Pryor, a pilot of more than 20 years experience, and now a captain with Delta Airlines.

“I soloed Monday!” Mike beamed, exploding into rapid conversation.

“No!” High fives were smacked, then the men were off into airplane lingo.

Last night, the desert sky over Lake Havasu was striking; gauze strips of cloud streaked across the expanse, the white full moon shinning its evening tale. As we left the restaurant, Mike gazed upward. “Can’t you imagine flying through that tonight. Beautiful. It would be just beautiful.”

I shake my head in wonder and ask you: What causes a person to go from ugly, nearly disabling fear of flying, to becoming a pilot who now is enamored with what once terrified him?

Is it because he is in control of the plane?

Is it because his spiritual condition has changed, and he has lost some fear of dying in general? (His spiritual condition has changed in a positive way, that I know to be true.)

Is it because he is older?

Is it just plain guts and determination?

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By Shirley Buxton

Still full of life and ready to be on the move, Shirley at 83 years old feels blessed to have lots of energy and to be full of optimism. She was married to Jerry for 63 years, and grieves yet at his death in August of 2019. They have 4 children, 13 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren...all beautiful and highly intelligent--of course. :)

18 replies on “From Fear to Love, A Flying Transformation”

I love to fly but haven’t always. I used to be afraid the entire time. To be honest, not sure what changed and it is weird because I love to fly now but STILL HATE HEIGHTS!!! I get such vertigo when too close to the railing of a balcony or multi-level building. I am excited that Mike has overcome his fear and is mastering it with learning to fly solo! I definitely think his spiritual transformation has something to do with it for we are overcomers through Christ!!!

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It’s interesting, Tena, that many people feel more nervous about flying than about traveling in an automobile, when statistically, one is overwhelmingly safer in the air. We all know that, yet when we’re up in the air—no wheels on the highway—we tend to worry.

Your feeling of control if you are driving the car or—Heaven, help us—if you are piloting the plane is a common one, I think.

Kiki, I especially love takeoffs. Never get over the thrill of that giant bird becoming airborne.

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Shirley:

Thanks for your empathy. Even though flying is a fear of mine, and I have faced it, I absolutely love takes offs and landings. There is such a surge of power that I feel when those engines rev up and we soar into the sky. It reminds me of the power I felt when I was filled with the Holy Ghost. What a continuous thrill ride!

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I’m not very fond of flying either, even though I do it. If *I* was flying the plane, I wouldn’t be nervous. πŸ™‚ It’s like driving a car. If I’m driving, I’m in control. Why does that make me feel safer? Doesn’t make sense. When I fly on a plane I pray more about a safe trip than when I get in a car (unless it’s a long trip). Whew, I think I’m confusing myself! πŸ˜€
Great subject!

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Eva, your insight concerning having children with you almost forced you to be brave on the airplane—at least to act brave.

You know what. Sometimes when we act a certain way, be it bravery in an airplane, or bravery in public speaking, or bravery in witnessing for the Lord, we actually take on those traits…and no longer is it an act. It is us!

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Wow–I think that is neat. Like everyone else I don’t like to fly. I used to be terrified. I don’t know that it is flying as much as the height. I am not so bad now and I think for me having to fly to my mother’s bedside for surgery with my 3 young children (6,4 & 4 mos) by myself helped me because I did not want to pass my fear onto my children. Another thing that helped was when my six year old started telling my 4 year old when we were turning to hang on because the plane was going to go upside down and my 4 year old started screaming–I had to “be the mom” and calm his fear that we were just turning at these plane did not go upside down. Then with every ounce of Holy Ghost in me I to not kill by oldest.

I do better now and I think having children was definetly a help (I fly with them alone a couple times a year) But also I think as I grow in the Lord I realized that nothing is going to happen that He hasn’t planned–so worrying is pointless.

I think that a big part of Micheals change in attitude for flying is that he is a changed person. While he feels in control of the plane when flying–he know who is the real “Captain” and in control.

God Bless!!

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Tena and Ronda, yes, Mike deserves congratulations for overcoming this problem and for becoming a pilot. Now he’s saying he can fly Jerry and me around to meetings once he’s licensed to transport passengers. (I think he cannot do that for another 90 days. He’s still in training, of course.)

Jerry looked at him and said, “Hmm. I’m not so sure about that!”

It’s interesting to me that no one has taken on my question as to whether Mike’s change of attitude may somehow be related to his now being ready to meet God.

I have discussed that with him a bit, and while he thinks it is not the only component to his change in attitude, he does agree that it may play a part.

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Carol, I’m sorry you have suffered through those panic attacks…but knowing you, you will persist and keep quoting Bible verses, and keep reminding yourself not to have a spirit of fear.

I really don’t think having a fear of flying is actually a spirit of fear. After all, it is not natural that we fly and the reports we hear of crashes tell us we won’t have much chance of surviving if the plane does crash. A certain amount of apprehension is probably logical.

Did you hear Wanda Chavis as Ladies Conference last year tell about her experience with panic attacks on airplanes? It was hilarious; hilarious to hear about, surely not to experience.

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Jana, when Mike first told me years ago that he was so afraid of flying, I like you, thought this can’t be Mike. All my boys are adventurous, and have all tended to skate toward the edge of things. I was shocked to learn of such fear.

“Sweaty palms,Mom,” he said. “My hands get absolutely wet when I have to fly.”

I surely can understand your reluctance to fly after such experiences. Shakes one up a bit.

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Karen, I really do empathize with those who have a dread of flying. I fly a fair amount, and while I would be concerned if I felt that something was going wrong, I generally am quite calm about it. Actually, I really enjoy it. My most fearful times on a plane has been on a very small one. Perhaps they are the safest, but they wobble around more than do jet liners.

Yes, God is good and help us out with our fears.

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I’m not real keen on flying either, I think because I’m kind of claustrophobic. When we flew to Ohio in September, I had a panic attack on the way there. I was sitting in the middle seat, and the lady on the aisle needed to go to the restroom. For some reason, she couldn’t get her armrest to lift up, which caused her great difficulty in getting out of her chair. She was finally able to get out, and while she was gone, I felt this hot rush go up my face and this fear come over me. I began calling on the name of Jesus in my mind and trying to think of Bible verses. It wasn’t real bad, but it did happen a couple of times on that flight. If I have to fly longer than an hour, I just get kind of antsy, but that doesn’t mean I’ll never fly again. I know this fear isn’t from God, and I don’t have to accept it.

2Ti 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

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Congrats to Michael for the solo flight. Your story was too, too funny. The kid I grew up with was a fearless ball of energy and to imagine him paralyzed with fear was a great laugh. Before I laugh at him too much I must admit that after flying all over the world, I now hate to fly. My daughter was born the month after 9/11 and my entire perspective on flying changed. It just seems like the planes rattle more than ever, are older than ever, and I have had a few frightening flights. i.e. landing on ice and sliding sideways down the runway, landing in the dark on a short runway in Africa and nearly going into the ocean, being booted out of first class by Barbara Bush on a flight home from Africa… That should be enough to convince you I don’t like to fly anymore. LOL Ask me about the Barbara Bush story sometime. It was fun.

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I too can relate to Michael’s fear of flying. I did not fly for over 8 years. Finally last year, I flew with Mike and Jeremy back to Illinois to attend his mom’s 70th birthday and family reunion. I was a nervous wreck two weeks before just knowing I would be flying. But God helped me not to panic on the way there. On the way back, the plane was overbooked, and Mike, Jeremy and I were separated and did not get to sit together. I was nervous. But God had it all worked out. I ended up sitting next to a retired commerical pilot who also used to help people like me with flying phobia. And even though there was some rough turbulence, because he wasn’t alarmed at it, I didn’t get alarmed. God sure is good and knows our weaknesses and fears and has mercy on us and helps us. Thank you Jesus!

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