Pain is a great teacher. It is not a journey any of us would volunteer for, but once there, it can reveal valuable truths that we cannot learn any other way.
When we go through a crisis, it is not at all unusual to feel disoriented. The world looks different after a layoff, diagnosis, death of a loved one, or when distressing news is dropped on our doorstep.
When my husband was a young man, he had his pilot’s license. He allowed it to lapse after we were married, but I know he dreams of flying again one day. Pat loves to tell me all kinds of stories about his flying days and often quizzes me on ‘how to fly’. It’s all in fun, and I always fail miserably!
Because I give all of the wrong answers, I am pretty sure he thinks I don’t fully listen to those old flying stories, but I really do – sometimes.
I was thinking today about the lessons I’ve learned through difficult experiences, and I remembered one story he has told me over and over again.
Pilots flying in reduced visibility due to dense clouds, fog or storms, often encounter spatial disorientation. When this happens, the earth, the horizon, or external reference points in flight become lost.
In non-pilot language – he cannot see where he is going and can quickly become disoriented. The pilot is unable maintain a correct sense of up and down while flying. His perception of direction does not match reality and now he is in a very dangerous situation.
The NTSB reports that 40% of fatal general aviation accidents are due to the pilot experiencing spatial disorientation. Buddy Holly, Patsy Cline and John F. Kennedy Jr. all died because a pilot lost their ability to navigate visually during bad weather. And there is one common denominator in most all of these fatal crashes — the pilots were not trained to fly in ‘instrument conditions’.
When human senses are no longer reliable, the instruments are. The pilot who is instrument-rated knows they alone tell the truth. He reads them and trusts what they are telling him. His training kicks in, and he makes it through the fog and storm.
So here’s the thing – when we are experiencing the grief, panic and upset from a storm on our own journey, we too can lose sight of our horizon.
Our perception may not match reality. Everything appears upside down and our sense of direction is gone.
When we find ourselves disoriented and we cannot trust our senses – what do we do? How can we find the horizon again?
Girls, I’ve learned that when bad news has been dropped on my doorstep, my life is flipped over and my senses are no longer reliable, my training kicks in. Understanding I can’t go with what I see and feel – I go with what I know.
- I may feel God isn’t near, but I know He is
- I may feel alone — but I know I am not alone.
- I may feel there is no end in sight — but I know there is
- I may feel as though I cannot see where I am going — but I know I am still on the journey.
- I may feel like I will not make it — but I know I will
And how do I know? I am trained in the unchanging, storm proof, total-truth compass that is the Word of God. I can trust what it is telling me.
I turn my attention to what I have been trained for, and He shows me how to navigate through the storm.
It’s not to say I don’t panic or have upset – I do. But I am learning, ever so imperfectly, to rely on what I have been trained to do — and make no mistake, the training is on-going!
Scripture tells us the Word gives us endurance and hope!
For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the Scriptures we may have hope. — Romans 15:4
Sister, if your life is upside down right now and you have lost the horizon, turn to what you know.
His Word — the unchanging, storm proof, total-truth compass – will set you straight again. It will keep you upright when everything feels upside down, see you through the storm, and guide you into the light again.
Love to all,
PS. I wrote this blog post a while back, and I am sharing once again, adding it to the Soul Fitness series. It speaks to the situation we find ourselves in today, as we enter the second month of the corona virus. I hope it is a blessing to you.