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  • Writer's pictureJohn Whitehead

Learning to Fly

“Learning to fly” is something many have fantasized about. The idea of soaring through the air like a bird is as close to freedom as we can imagine.

 As a child there was always this unsaid desire of “learning to fly”. Perhaps this was not in a literal sense, but it was real none-the-less. The idea that if I could grow up and leave home, I would be able to fly in a sense by being free from the constraints, control or oversight of my mother, my teachers, coaches, and anyone who I saw as an authority.

It was as if “learning to fly” was my next step and one I could not wait to take. So, I did. I left school at age seventeen and joined the US Navy. The irony was, even though this yearning to fly had led me to go off on my own. I found out I just wanted to be back where I came from, back where I knew I belonged, with those I loved and those I knew loved me.

I found out right away, the freedom I sought could not be found by simply flying away. The freedom I sought had to be found inside of me. When I realized this, I began to see I was not held back by the things I thought were hindering me. I was held back by a misconception of what it meant to be free.

“Learning to fly” is necessary for us all and I did that, but being free was something I had to choose for myself.

In fact, I had to learn that flying was another form of control I would have to learn to deal with. No matter where I found myself, this same yearning to be free still existed. The question I needed to find out was why? Why was I unable to feel free when I changed my location or my circumstance?

The answer is simply because I was still there.

This same naive kid with dreams and aspirations of escaping and “learning to fly” on my own soon realized the lack of freedom I felt was on the inside. It was not my circumstance that had imprisoned me. It was me. I had begun to see everything in my life as a burden or a hinderance, when in fact the things I wanted to escape were the best part of my life.

It is a shame some of us cannot see the blessings of our lives until we have lost them.

The reality was that I was already free and that did not really sink in until I was in my late twenties. It was then I began to survey what really mattered in my life. It was then I began to see the beauty of having a wife and children to love and care for. It was then I began to see the hope of a brighter future.

What changed for me? It was the love of a Savior who had opened my eyes to what is really meant to be free. From here I realized I was “learning to fly” the whole time. I just never knew I was the thing keeping me grounded.

So, if you find yourself feeling trapped and in need of a way out, I want you to know you can learn to fly by turning to the source of freedom, Jesus Christ.

He is how we learn to fly and soar to the heights we’re created to reach. The choice, like every choice, is ours!

John 8:31-32, “To the Jews who had believed in Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teachings, you are truly my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

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