What if God did not punish anyone? Ever? Not in this life, or in the afterlife. What if Heaven is a reality – but, Hell is not? Would that be alright with you?
What if Heaven is every person’s ultimate fate, and everyone is reincarnated, over and over again, until they got it right and went to Heaven? Would that be okay?
Does any of that make sense to you? It does to me.
In the summer of 1967 at the age of eight, I traveled from my home in Cleveland, Ohio to visit my uncle in New York City. I was thrilled at the prospect of flying to New York on my own. My mother saw me to the gate as I departed, and my uncle met me at the gate as I arrived.
The thrill of the anticipated flight disappeared as soon as the plane lifted off. That was the moment I discovered my fear of heights.
Needless to say, the flight was not a pleasant one. I was terrified. I don’t know whether it was motion sickness or the fear that caused me to become so violently ill, but the stewardess (which is what a flight attendant was called then) said it was motion sickness. I think it was the fear.
It was a wonderful 2 week vacation, filled with lots of fun and excitement. I will never forget it. But I refused to fly back and my uncle wound up driving me home.
10 years later, at the age of 18, I voluntarily joined the peacetime army. I probably would not have joined if I had the foresight to think about flying to Fort Knox, Kentucky for basic training. I tried to get out of the flight, but I was told that taking the bus was not an option; the government provided the plane ticket and I had orders to fly. To top it all off, I was traveling with a “buddy,” which meant I had to act as if I was not concerned about the flight at all. After all, I could not let my new “buddy” see any fear in me. He already had a problem with me because I was put “in charge” of the trip, and he just couldn’t understand why he had to be insubordinate to someone of my (ethnic) background.
I rode the bus home after basic training. I rode the bus to my Advanced Individual Training at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. I rode the bus to my permanent duty station at Fort Ord, California. Fortunately, I was never given an overseas assignment.
I stayed away from flying until February 1995, when I was convinced to travel to Cozumel, Mexico to celebrate my 36th birthday. With my fear of heights and of flying securely in tact, I took the trip. Although the flight going to Cozumel and returning to Chicago, (where I’ve resided since 1994), was horrendous, the vacation itself was a tremendous experience. It was so fantastic in fact, that I have taken a vacation requiring flight every year since; sometimes two.
The dilemma was always the flying. I developed a love for travel; seeing and experiencing new and different places, people and cultures, is very exciting to me. The problem of getting there and getting home was (marginally) outweighed by the enthusiasm I had for the anticipated adventure.
However, by the year 2000, I grew tired of experiencing the fear. I determined that my entire vacation experience should be fun and enjoyable. I decided that it was time for me to practice the teaching of knowing the presence of God in this matter. I could not think of a viable reason that I should have an experience of something other than good in order for me to have an experience of my determined good. I knew it was time to release the fear of heights and of flying. But how would I accomplish this?
I remembered once coming across the idea that fear and love cannot coexist. So, I used that idea as my starting point. Fear, after all, (which has been described by the acronym False Expectations Appearing Real), is nothing more than a lack of faith that God is present in a certain situation, or the faith that God is not present. When we practice and realize the presence of God in any situation, there is no fear because we know that there is nothing that exists which can destroy, defeat or oppose the Power that is God.
One of the attributes of God, or put another way, a fundamental aspect of the Nature of God is Love. God is Love. So, if I know that God is Love, and I know that God cannot be opposed, then I know that Love is an expression of the Power of God which cannot be opposed. This is why fear and love cannot coexist; believing in, feeling and knowing the Love of God means knowing that I am filled with, immersed in, enveloped in and surrounded by this Power, that is constantly, consistently and unconditionally giving of Itself to me so that I always have my good. The good that I determine for myself then, is and must be recognized as my real expectation. Recognizing my real expectation of good, there is no power for any false expectation to appear in my mind or in my experience.
Based on this thinking, I used treatments and affirmations around the ideas that “God is Love,” and “The Love of God is with me now.” I consciously conquered my fear of heights and of flying in the year 2000. I now enjoy flying as much as the vacations I take, and I always sit by the window so I can take in the Magnificence and Beauty of God that I am surrounded by as I travel.
And so it is.
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