Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Lessons from a plane crash

Last night was one of those crazy nights where I just couldnt drift off to sleep.
I checked through every blog I could think of, searched for some pretty pyjamas online, had a hot drink, read some Bible verses.. but my brain just wouldnt switch off. Finally around 2:30am I fell off to sleep..
Only to be up after 7am, tired and wondering how functioning I would be.

I stood in the shower with baby Joseph, washing my hair with one hand, balancing him with the other and keeping the warm water on his back.. and all the while, I could hear the garbage truck in the distance, reminding me its rubbish day, kids up for breakfast and about ten different 'to do' flags sitting on my radar.

So off I set. I bounced into auto pilot and set about doing the tasks. With that nagging sense inside me "Where do I get off this bus?".

I dont know what bus I wanted to get off.
Definitely not the motherhood one. Or the wife one. Or the homemaker or homeschool one.

But perhaps all the other little ones.

I thought back to the night before. Sam had been at ICONZ and he usually comes home with enough time for me to run out the door and get to homegroup, late, but just in time for the study DVD. He'd got home later than usual and I was literally walking out the door, keys, study book and Joseph in arms when Tim said to me "Oh mum, are we not going to get to do our date night?". I said a quick "sorry son, lets try tomorrow" and headed for the car and as I sat there, Joseph strapped in, key in ignition, I had one of those "Fleur dont miss what matters most?!" moments and headed straight back inside for a date with my boy.

He wanted to watch Aircrash Investigations. Im going to honest. That stuff just sends me into panic attacks. I mean, heights, crashes and intense post accident analysis. He loves it. On our flights to UK, he was a running commentary of fantastic information on the planes functioning and all its potential problems. You can imagine. I made him promise not to mention or point out any funny signals, shakes, bumps, leaking gases, smells, temperature or altitude changes. And since we were flying Singapore Airlines which has a clean history, I figured we were fine.
So back to the point.
The episode he chose was one of a Singapore Airlines flight crash. Nice.
This one didnt make it off the ground.
In October 2000, headed for LA with a Typhoon moving in, the pilots prepared for take off, and made some major miscalculations. They were meant to be on runway 5L. They ended up on an adjacent runway 5R which was closed for maintenance. Unable to see due to bad weather, and ignorant of the warning flags, they hurtled down the wrong runway coliding into parked equipment. With all that fuel on board, the plain exploded into a fireball. 82 people died.

When investigators looked into how this accident happenned, the conclusion was 'Tunnel Vision'. There were plenty of red flags: Runway signs saying 5R that they drove past, their instruments werent aligned to the runway beacon at take off, poor visibility... they were all ignored. The report came back that " Upon entering the wrong runway, the flight crew had neglected to check the paravisual display (PVD) and the primary flight display (PFD), which would have indicated that the aircraft was lined up on the wrong runway. According to the ASC, these errors, coupled with the imminent arrival of the typhoon and the poor weather conditions, caused the flight crew to lose situational awareness and led them to attempt to take off from the wrong runway."
And it caused fatalities.

So mid morning, today, as I talked with mum about my sleepless night and the whirl of thoughts in my head.. I just found myself thinking back to the documentary and realizing what an important message there is in it, for me.

One of the biggest flags the pilots ignored, was that their instruments didnt line up on the runway. There is a beacon at the end of the runway that when the plane is lined up correctly, places its co ordinates as centre. They were off to the left that night. Because they were on the wrong runway.

Heaven knows, I find myself lined up on the wrong runway far too often.
As I thought back to my sleepless night, I saw the real issue. The beacon was blinking at me off to one side, and sure I know Im not 'centred'.. but theres a storm going on outside, a perfect storm of a full schedule, mountains of activities, friendships, phone calls, and appointments.

Then theres the fact that no barriers were put on the runway to indicate it was closed. The green lights were still flashing down the centre of the runway! You know, often the green lights for go are still flashing on my 'in maintenance' runway too. And Im needing to put some NO GO barriers in place. My diary looks kind of empty, the green lights are all blinking "its fine here".. but really, there just isnt enough emotional energy in me to give out. Or more frankly to the point.. theres probably enough to be kind and gracious to those outside the family.. and when they leave, it will be the kids who put up with a weary mummy and usually, a mess to help clear up.

What I knew I needed was, like those pilots, some situational awareness:

Dont let the storm rule your choices:
*Im not called to be ALL THINGS right now. It is full on right now. But Im first and foremost, wife and mum. And mostly, if Im honest, thats all I have time for. Friendships, 'ministry', anything else thats an outpouring.. is not my priority right now. And as much as I wish I could explain it to people, I cant. I dont owe them an explanation. But I can model to them right choices. Mostly Im modeling them to my children.

*Keep good signals with the 'control tower':
Stay in the Word, keep wisdom close and if in doubt, go back to the wise ones and their words. I read Proverbs every day. Even just one verse. It really is like my 'homing' signal. Also, my mum and a dear friend Robyn, are two women, whose counsel goes through my mind daily. I often make my bed and hear Robyn saying "Just love your family Fleur, everything else can wait" and when the phone is ringing and Joseph is crying I hear mum saying "Just love your children Fleur, they matter most".

*Put up some boundaries:
You may look like your coping well and theres green light flashing down your runway, but that doesn't mean you need to take on. Im terrible at this. I feel like I get a grip on my schedule and that Im relaxed, and in my relaxed state I think "oh yes, I can do that small thing" and then later regret it! What areas of your life do you need to put 'in maintenance'? I don't do any ministry things at Church, Im not on any rosters or meal programmes. Every now and then I might do one, but not often. My home group leader knows I'll be at group, if I can make it. I try and keep my schedule thin. I don't welcome drop in visitors and my door isn't open all the time. I dont have a lot of time for friendships. Im often looking for ways to manage mess better, declutter more etc.
One area that Im having to work on, is that when guests do come, often toys and food will get pulled out and guests will leave and a tidy up is necessary. It doesnt come naturally to me, but Im having to learn to say "food only at the table please" and "lets put away the toys all together"... because you know what, the truth is, if I dont, its my kids who have to pick it all up or watch mummy rush around and do it and get tired.

*Dont ignore the red flags:
The little warnings, physically and emotionally, that your lined up on the wrong runway. Lift your head for a moment and do a quick check. Who are you trying to please? Man? or God?

*Line yourself up central on the beacon:
Yesterday one of my best buddys asked me if she could give some fabric to a friend of hers in need. I handed over a bundle, willingly, and at the time, was thinking how I am just so overwhelmed and wont have time to sew for a decade. But in the middle of the night, failing to find pyjamas online for any decent price, I remembered I had the perfect fabric Id brought, a beautiful Amy Butler floral print, that Id intended to make a dress out of... but was never going to get around to doing. Pyjamas would be the perfect easy project for the fabric. Far less time consuming yet so enjoyable. And whats more, my sweet hubby had already paid for the fabric so it wouldnt cost him. ONLY, Id given that fabric to my friend.
Being the gracious soul she is, I quickly asked for it back and explained and she was a honey and understood.

I know thats just a small thing, but really, it exemplifies the kind of decisions I make, when Im stuck in tunnel vision. My "overwhelmed" state, I say yes to things that arent my best yes. I look back and think "I cant believe I made that decision in that headspace".
It was a lesson to me not to say 'yes' to anything, when I know Im tired. Its okay to say 'let me get back to you'. It doesnt mean I cant offer anything, but honestly, God might actually have a better blessing for that woman from a different source.
On a runway, a plane has a taxi proceeder before take off called LUAW: Line up, and wait... or position, and hold. Boy could I learn something from that. Take a moment to follow your decision through. See yourself down that runway, near take of.. are you still lined up with the beacon? Or is your decision sitting a little off to the left or right of it? When youve made that decision: HOLD. Just wait. You will likely never make a good decision if its a rushed decision. Pray about it, even the small decisions, because we serve a HUGE God and He is able to orchestrate the BEST when our heart is to please Him.