A few months ago, I experienced a personal breakthrough.
A couple of years ago, I developed a bit of an anxiety about something. Whilst I was flying, I had intense ear pain and suffered with significantly blocked ears for an entire week. It was one of the most uncomfortable things I have ever endured. I didn’t realise that some psychological trauma had taken place, and it started to affect my freedom, big time. In a nutshell: I’ve been avoiding planes for the last 5 years.
In 2017 I started this awesome leadership program, kind of a dream come true, that would require me to travel to Melbourne twice a year. Whilst I was unbelievably excited, I was quietly concerned about how I was going to go with flying. I prepared in a multitude of ways for that first flight but unfortunately as we descended, I felt my ears starting to block and become uncomfortable. Panic started to set in, and I battled against a full blown panic attack for about 20 minutes. It took an entire day for the one blocked ear to dissipate, and my defeated feeling to subside. For the rest of the week, whilst trying to learn about leadership, I was distracted by my eventual return flight home.
Somehow I returned to Brisbane five days later, with much the same approach and experience. The same warring against panic symptoms and the same aftermath. My only hope now, was that I had four months to figure out how to manage it for the next flight. I went to the doctor, and got a referral to an ENT Specialist. I was going to fix this thing. To my dismay, he couldn’t see anything wrong! I left with some good advice, and no treatment plan.
However, in addition to my external management system, there was a change in my inner perception. I figured that if God hadn’t healed me yet, instead He would give me the ability to endure it. I had an epiphany earlier in the year, that hardship and adversity grows you, even if it is uncomfortable during the process. The testing of faith builds endurance, and we must let endurance become fully developed (James 1:2-4). To put it plainly: when I endure, I mature.
I knew that so much of this battle was not about the ear problem itself (although I still want healing), it was about the psychological snowball I allowed myself to get into, driven by fear and doubt.
Well with this revelation, and my toolkit of remedies…I was ready to go again.
Throughout the flight, I was absolutely fine… and then we started to descend. There were sensations that would ordinarily concern me but I didn’t stress. I simply employed all the strategies that the doctor had told me to do and I started to sing calmly the song our worship team had played that morning. As I closed my eyes, calmly managing the simmering thoughts at risk of boiling over, I got a flashing picture in my head. It was Jesus kneeling down in the aisle right next to me, calmly cheering me on. As I made myself aware that He was with me (as He always is), I opened up my hand as though to receive Him and I felt peace overcome me, and even joy. I could sense His approval and pride in me at having the courage to endure.
The plane landed and my ears were fine. No sign of panic. I was 100%. I COULDN’T BELIEVE IT! It was over. I got to the leadership program and was boasting to a few people there about what God had done - pretty sure they didn’t get how big a deal this was. But for me, it was huge. This was my breakthrough, after five years of being controlled by an irrational fear. I might not be physically healed yet, but I am definitely free. I hope this encourages you to keep believing for your breakthrough from any irrational fear - God has a way!
Melanie Saward is the Connect Group Coordinator for Nexus Church. She is married to Josh with 1 beautiful daughter of 3 years old. She is passionate about people living in community and finding purpose in God and is known for her immense love of spreadsheets and tables.