Childlike Faith and Fear of Flying
Letter from Tori Vissat
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If you know me, you know I hate flying. It’s a strange cross which has taken many shapes and forms over the years, but the bottom line is, I would prefer to stay on land. This is a truth which astonishes many since my job requires lots of it. Nonetheless, this past year, I had the honor of witnessing one of my teammates get married to her guy. And so, flying was evident.
On our way back from Louisiana, I was feeling particularly anxious for the flight. Luckily, I was not alone on the day of travel. My airport group Sunday night consisted of 13 people, many of them dear friends and their kids. As the time approached, we all noisily boarded our flight. Now if it was up to me, I would have preferred to sit alone and ‘get through’ the flight with headphones in and my eyes closed. I am a typical melancholic.
Yet unbeknownst to me, God had a different idea for the 2 hour and 23 minutes of air travel. One of our group members was 4-year-old Gianna. Gianna is the adorably cute, blonde little girl of my friends Dominic and Kelly. “Come on Tori, sit with me!” exclaimed G. She had excitingly saved me a seat next to her among the gaggle of our group of friends. We took up 4 rows. “Ugh, Gianna,” I said. “I’m not gonna be much fun. I hate flying.” Her face was confused but hopeful. “It’s okay, it will be fun, we can just watch a show and eat snacks.” Alas, I was sold.
We took off and I did my usual. Eyes sealed shut. Head back. Clutching my rosary. I hate take-off the most. As I peeled and open my left eye, I caught glance of Gianna. Full smile, perked up in her seat. “Are we in the air?” she asked. I thought to myself silently. OF COURSE WE ARE, THAT’S WHY I’M FREAKING OUT.
But she was not the least bit panicked and it made me think. Why are kids so good at letting go? Of trusting? Of just knowing that they are safe and have no need to worry? Isn’t this the same simplicity in which God is asking of me. I would say so.
So I watched for the remaining time of our flight as Gianna carried out her in-flight routine. Coloring books, A Mickey Mouse movie on the iPad, ordering her apple juice with a lid, and course; princess stickers. Not a care in the world. I eventually put in my ear buds and listened to some soft music. As I did, I kept my eyes glued to Gianna and continued to reflect on what the Lord was trying to teach me in that moment.
I don’t know about you ladies, but for me, God uses so many things in my day-to-day in an attempt to reach into my heart. This was one of them, coming in the form of a small 4-year-old child. In her, I realized how much I am still so very on the journey with God. How much I kick and scream when God is just desiring for me to rest. How much I still struggle to be in control, to know what’s going to happen and predict life. Yet in those quiet moments, He was drawing me into a greater reality.
The reality that freedom comes through becoming like children in front of the Lord. Gianna was not worried that the plane was going to magically fall out the sky or frantically going over her to-do list for the upcoming week. She was present and attentive to the moment. How easier said than done.
As we were descending into Colorado, tears streamed down my face as I thanked God for a beautiful witness to His love and for knowing what I need more than I do. I placed my hand on Gianna’s little leg as she quietly looked out the window, peering down at the glittering city lights. Moments later, without saying anything, she reached back and put her small hand on top of mine. In that silent exchange, I knew the Lord was speaking. “All is well, I got you. Trust in me and I will do the rest.”
Praying for your hearts to rest in Him,
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Full name: Victoria Noelle Vissat, but go by Tori!
State-in-life / Occupation: Single, FOCUS Missionary in International Missions
Location: Denver, Colorado
Educational background: Communications Major from University of Connecticut
How does your Catholic faith affect the way you live your day-to-day life?
When I met Jesus in college, my life radically changed. I realized that the void in my heart was meant for Him and nothing has been the same since. Living out my Catholic faith means I am striving daily to love God and be loved by Him (both of which I am far from perfect at!) As the Lord continues to transform my heart, I learn that much of life is the delicate art of holding beauty and suffering in both hands.
What’s your favorite way to pray?
I love to use my imagination to pray. When I was in college, I received an image of me sitting on a boat with Jesus in the ocean. I would picture myself swimming out under the waves to meet Him. He was always waiting for me. I have gone back to that image in prayer every week for the last 7 years. Conversations with Jesus in the boat have sustained me through seasons of difficulty, grief and heartache. Even when it's difficult, I know that entrusting my heart to Jesus while chatting with Him on the boat has been one of the best ways to sustain our relationship and grow towards deeper freedom & trust.
What’s your favorite way to spend a Saturday off?
Waking up and going to the gym then getting a big iced coffee. In the afternoon, I would go to the park and hang out with friends on a blanket. Then I would pray a Holy Hour at this amazingly beautiful chapel in my city. Finally, I would invite people over for a nice dinner, with good cheese for the appetizer, and great conversation.
Fill in the blank.
My morning routine consists of: Praying a Hail Mary for Mom to guide my day, drinking a shot of espresso, eating a banana then working out and then going to work!
I’m currently obsessed with: Adam Young’s Podcast called “The Place We Find Ourselves.”
I feel most inspired when: I see people being brave by embracing their stories with courage and letting Jesus transform them in the process.
My favorite part about my life right now is: The deep and rich friendships that God has blessed me with. There is nothing like someone who knows you intimately that you can pursue the good with.
The advice I would give to the millennial Catholic woman is: Get off your phone! Live life in person and model relationships to others. Too many people feel lonely and need to see connection and real friendship lived out by you.
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