Escape Velocity

I'm kind of an anxious flyer. If I was a drinker, I'd probably be fairly soused by the time I boarded a plane. Regardless, I marvel at the miracle of flight. When flying, I often think about the trajectory of the airplane from take-off to landing. I'm no physicist, but "trajectory" or "trajection" is defined as the curved path or arc of some object hurtling through air or space--like a cannon ball from the moment it's shot from a cannon. The arching (or trajectory) of any object (from a bullet to a thrown ball) is caused by gravity. If the object is thrown or shot upward, gravity alters the object's motion accordingly. For instance, the higher we aim the muzzle of a gun when shooting, the higher the arc of the bullet's trajectory. Similarly, a rocket's trajectory differs from an airplane.

We've all heard the phrase, "What goes up, must come down." True--to a point.  An object can overcome gravitational pull (or g-forces) in this way:  One would have to throw a ball or shoot off a rocket with so much force that the object reaches "escape velocity." That way, the object will never come down again and may keep on flying until the end of time. So what's my point?

We're all hurtling through time in our own trajectory. From the moment of birth, our surrounding environment creates the initial path of our trajectory. Our gravitational pulls (and wings) come in the form of parents, siblings, extended family, culture, religion, core values, friends, enemies, social class, gender, etc. Obviously, our life's gravitational pulls are positive and negative. They help propel us toward "escape velocity" or spiral down to a crash and burn. Hopefully, while growing into adulthood, our awareness of our trajectory and various g-forces increases. Our awareness can empower us to fight and overcome negative g-forces--but only to a point. Our Savior, Jesus Christ is our supreme and consistent rocket booster in helping us attain "escape velocity."

In one of my previous posts, I talked about our fear of our own greatness. I discussed how our lives can be entrenched in cubicles assigned to us by others (think g-forces). But here's one of life's great ironies: Even though we might find ourselves about to crash and burn, we often refuse to fight the g-forces. In other words, we sabotage our own success and ultimately our destined greatness. We give into these g-forces in the following ways:

  • Our desire to constantly please others 

  • Our desire to live up to the expectations of others (even if those expectations are unreasonable)

  • Our apathy and/or fear of living a life that is not defined by others

Personally, I know how hard it is to fight g-forces in my attempts to ascend and change trajectory. But I also know that free-falling to a "face-plant" is no fun either. Fighter pilots tell us that g-forces hamper their physical strength and stamina whether they're accelerating upward or downward during flight. Ironically, the g-force pressure with its accompanying physical pain is still there regardless of whether pilots fly their planes upward or downward. Well then, as pilots of our own lives---and feeling painful g-forces is inevitable---why not use our g-force pain to fly higher instead of downward to an inevitable crash and burn?

"Daedalus and Icarus" by Domencio Pio

But here's another angle to our trajectories: Our flight often causes pain to others. Some of our family, friends, co-workers, associates (or whomever), won't like our attempts to fly away. Or, they won't like how we fly. Or, they won't appreciate our freedom to determine our own flight path. Consequently, we can expect to lose some family and friends along the way. But with the help of the Spirit and our Savior, Jesus Christ, we can find the strength to defy those g-forces. I'll share a personal example:

I was in my 40's before I was able to fully resist the gravitational pull of living under the expectations of family members and friends.  As I began speaking and living by my own truth, I faced (and, at times, still do) tremendous opposition. The pressure to conform was taking a huge emotional toll on me. (Yet conforming to others' expectations was also causing an equal amount of personal distress. Yes, I had sprouted my own wings, but staying in flight was exhausting.) Anxiety attacks became my consistent unwanted companions. Regardless, I knew the Lord approved of my flight plan, and He was and continues to be my momentum and stabilizer. 

I hadn't understood the depth and profundity of His help until I boarded a plane headed for Los Angeles. I had been asked to speak at a conference in L.A., and my anxiety was at an all-time high. While preparing for take-off, the roar of the plane's engines resonated within me. Their roar became my roar! (I know, I sound dramatic.) I felt as though the plane personified me. The force and energy of the engines created a force and energy within me. As the plane moved down the runway with increasing speed and momentum, I felt the tremendous power and force required for the plane to become airborne. And I knew that I had that kind of strength too. Feeling a sense of relief at lift-off, I marveled again at the miracle of flight. 

The Spirit then whispered to me: "I've given you the power and energy for lift-off. I've taught you and given you permission to fly on your own. Now, stay airborne. Don't crash and burn because somebody else doesn't want you to fly. Just fly higher."

I continue to gain altitude. I like to think I've reached "escape velocity." But I probably haven't; I don't really know. I still face opposition. But here's the thing: I no longer feel the strong gravitational downward pull that I used to feel. I knew my trajectory had changed course when I realized that no one had the power to bring me down.

Wanna fly? Then turn off all electronic devices, put your tray tables up, fasten your seat belts and prepare for take-off!