When I got the email from Vibe Israel, asking me to to apply for a weeklong trip to a foreign country I’d only ever associated with conflict and war, I actually thought it was a joke.
And then after I checked out their pretty legit website, I asked some close friends if they’d do it. They all said YES, OF COURSE. And I thought they were crazy.
But, there was that voice in my head trying to silence my fear, and sift out the sounds of reason. It was telling me that this was a chance of a lifetime. It was trying to yell over my anxiety that everything was going to be fine, great!
I listened to it just long enough to apply, then hoped I wouldn’t get chosen.
I felt joy when I first got the official invite, nearly immediately followed by dread and doubt.
It wasn’t just the ideas I had about the (lack of) safety in Israel. I was also afraid because what if something happened to my family while I was half a world away, what if the plane crashed, what if I had a panic attack, what if I didn’t know enough about religion, what if I offended someone, what if World War 3 broke out and I was stuck in Israel trying to fight my way home, and had to befriend a zombie?
That last “what if” is courtesy of a lot of too many movies, I guess.
Up until the very last night, I wondered if I should back out. At one point, I thought my “gut” was trying to tell me it wasn’t going to end well, that this was one of those Final Destination moments when I should make the drastic choice to cancel everything, in order to avoid a tragedy I’d see on the news the next week.
You guys. Obviously that was CRAZY. I know this. Sometimes this is where my anxious brain goes, especially before I fall asleep. (My dreams are so super fun.)
I didn’t have much time to think anymore about it from the minute I got up super early the day of my flight. Yay, running late! By the time I got on my flight from Newark to Tel Aviv, I was so damn tired that I slept through most of the 10 hours. Andplusalso, Benadryl.
It was a super smooth flight, and nobody had any interest in keeping their window shades open, so I didn’t even have to think about flying over an ocean.
From the minute I arrived in Israel, I’m telling you, I felt 110% safe- safer than some places I’ve visited in our own country. That’s not to discount or diminish the real conflicts and tension that I know do exist there, but for the time I was there, the places WE visited, from north to south and between, didn’t make me feel unsafe.
All that said, there were still moments that it hit me that I was nearly as far away from my family as earthly possible. There were moments of panic, moments when I had to decide to stop checking the news (not for anything local… just in general.)
But then there were moments like dining on the roof of a hotel in Tel Aviv, and marveling at how far I’ve come… in so many ways. How is THIS my life?
18 months ago, the voice of reason in my head would have been barely a whisper. Anxiety and fear would have been screaming at me to stay home. Hell, they didn’t even want me to go to the grocery store down the road. And back then a 2 hour flight felt like a one way ticket to the grave.
In the middle of the Dead Sea on the 2nd full day of the trip, I picked up some salt on the shoreline, and noticed the bracelets I absentmindedly slipped on my wrists that morning…
Goodness, did I ever.