I am a pilot. Though I haven’t flown for 14 years, I LOVE flying. Sometimes on those beautiful middle Tennessee spring or fall days, when the sky is clear, the wind is minimal, and the sun is shining… I’ll look up in the sky and dream that I can be back up there. Maybe one day.The worst day of flying still beats the best day of real work. – Anonymous
So, why all the talk of flying? Last night, during our discussion at about the importance of remaining connected to the body of believers in the church, I was reminded of the JFK Jr. airplane crash on July 16, 1999. There is a full NTSB report of the crash here if you’re interested. The cause of the crash was something pilots talk about a lot, which was a graveyard spiral caused by “failure to maintain control of the airplane due to spatial disorientation.” As an airplane starts to make a turn, your body tells you “I’m turning” through the various wonderful God-given senses we have. If the airplane is in a turn long enough, your body will adjust to the turn and given no other visual indicators (like on a dark night), it will feel like you’re flying straight and level. One look at the altimeter will tell you that you’re descending (this happens in a turn). Natural response? Pull up! But this only serves to tighten your turn, until you spiral into the ground, usually at an alarming rate. At the point of impact, the NTSB estimated JFK Jr.’s plane was descending at 4,700 feet-per-minute. In comparison, a standard descent in a commercial airliner is 500 fpm (and you feel it then too).
Like a graveyard spiral, so often through my day, my brain is giving me all sorts of messages on how to interpret what is going on around me. These messages are influenced by my life experiences, my relationships, my overall body chemistry at that time (if I’m feeling physically or emotionally down, it is more difficult for me to interpret conflict accurately). In the moment of confusion, I have two choices.
Choose the lie: “you’re not appreciated”, “wait until people find out who you really are”, “they’re laughing at you behind your back”, “Those guys are way better dads than you’ll ever be”)
image courtesy Cindy Bultema blog site
Choose Truth: God has chosen me to be His own. He has equipped me for life and godliness. I am a new creation. I am His servant, not the world’s. I was bought with a price, and it cost me nothing – God’s perfect love and sovereignty will cast out all fear in me.
Which do I choose so often? The lies… at least for a time. Which is why it is so critical that I not do this life alone. I MUST be in a community of people, growing, sharing, and BEING REAL. As our pastor said during his message this Sunday in Hebrews, “ISOLATION KILLS”.
How do we pull out of the graveyard spiral of life?
1. Use your instruments – Focus on the truth, not what you feel like at that moment. This will not be easy! Use the instruments of faith, deep friendships, and Godly mentors. Pilots have instruments in their plane before they fly. Don’t wait for accountability. Get it now. Psalm 15:2, Psalm 25:5, Mark 9:24
2. Reduce power and level out – Often times, whatever is going on in your life is contributing to the chaos behind the lies. Slow down, cancel extra engagements, get some rest, and eat right. Even Jesus “got away” at times. Matthew 14:23
3. Point your nose down – What? We’re losing altitude and I have to point my nose down?! YES! It allows the plane to pickup speed, and thus have greater control over the airplane. And in life, we need to give up control sometimes, submit to the Godly wisdom and guidance (sometimes through another person), and take ACTION on that guidance. Trust in your shepherd. Psalm 23
Are you in a graveyard spiral? Are you tightening your turn by trying harder, putting a mask on, and isolating? Get out of the spiral. Trust God that it will be OK. Put your faith in Jesus and not what the world says about you.