Have you ever done one of those crazy trust exercises where you are blind-folded and expected to fall backwards and be caught by the person behind you? When it came to taking that leap of faith I remember putting my foot out in self-preservation several times before taking a deep breath in and falling back. There is that moment when you have taken the leap and are falling back of slight panic, but then you feel the safe and solid arms behind you, and you can breathe a sigh of relief. Your trust has paid off.
Well that is how I felt yesterday when I set off. Even in the hours running up I was asking myself why I was doing this. my self-preservation was kicking in. It would have been safer to stay at home, but if you say, like me, that you trust God, that trust needs to be put into action. So I metaphorically shut my eyes and fell back.
God was so faithful and throughout my entire journey there was a the beauty of God being in every detail and in every moment.
I love to feel safe, and for a long time I mistakenly thought this meant being safe in my four walls, or in what was familiar. Yesterday I experienced that beautiful feeling of peace and safety even though I was well out of my comfort zone. I trusted that God had gone before me and that meant choosing not to stress about the details.
Being aware of your weaknesses is actually a strength. So instead of going into a situation in which I knew I would struggle and break down, I wised up. I was able to put in healthy boundaries and the right support.
London Heathrow Airport have a brilliant team for flyers with hidden disabilities. I was met by a lovely and hilarious assistant who helped me through security and then I was the taken to a quiet lounge where I could avoid the busy-ness and sensory overload of the airport. At just the right time I was then met by another team member who stayed with me until I boarded the plane at the beginning. This meant I was able to be settled before the mad rush of people. These small things made such a difference and helped me avoid the stress and panic that I often feel in busy and loud environments.
When you are open and honest about your struggles, with the right people, we are enabling them to help us, and to cover us with their strengths. For years I would hide my struggles and really let my husband, Ali see them. The poor guy got the brunt! By being open yesterday, I found out more about how kind and loving people can be.
One of the things that I had been really nervous about was getting off the plane at Atlanta. That airport doesn’t have the same support system in place as Heathrow, so I prayed., “Please Lord, would you put the right person next to me, who can help me”.
Wow! God delivered! When the lady sat next to me saw the stewardess checking up on me, she asked why, and so I told. She declared herself to be the perfect person to sit next to as her son has ASD and she knew all about the struggles and sensory difficulties. She told me not to worry about the other end and that she would make sure I got through immigration and find my taxi driver. She did!
When I did hit sensory overload and started to panic she knew what to do. She got the stewardess to help me, and I was given some space in one of the galleys, some water and a chance to calm down. I was overwhelmed and blessed by peoples kindness, support, and friendliness and how I was welcomed with open arms.
I talked in my the introduction to this blog series about my struggles with the unknown, surprises, and sensory overload. For many years this has limited me, stripped me of my joy and my ability to just be and to do things otherwise I wouldn’t have done. Yesterday, I really experienced that beautiful moment of facing my struggles and overcoming them. This wasn’t because of who I am, but because of God’s grace and goodness.
Yes it was challenging and there were times where it was physically difficult. I had to persevere, but there was that incredible feeling of joy of what I had overcome. Something that seemed impossible was made possible with God.