The other day I was going through some papers and came across one that I will always treasure and just had to put into a frame. Apparently, you had been in Vacation Bible School and had been asked the question, “What is an example of something that really scared you, but you chose to be brave and overcame that fear?” You listed the following: getting bucked off of a horse, going down a big zip line, and getting baptized. Oh, how I vividly remember all of the above. In fact, my stomach still gets a little nervous thinking about them.
It’s a good thing, lovey, that I wasn’t there when you got bucked off that horse or you might not have been allowed back on that crazy thing! However, after your daddy recovered from seeing you flying through the air and knew you were fine, he helped you get back on the horse because he knew how much horses meant to you. So, with a determined look in your eye, you climbed back on that horse and have been riding ever since. Way to go! By choosing to face your fear, you have been able to continue to do what you absolutely love to do the most. So proud of you, sweet girl!
Now, the zip line, that’s another story…that ended up being more like you helping me face my fear! I’ll never forget how excited you and daddy were to take the plunge off of the platform that loomed 40 ft. off the ground! I, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with it. Being far from a thrill-seeker and, as you know, one that struggles with motion-sickness, going on a zip line was definitely not in my plans for that day (or any day), but I was very happy to watch you…happy until I heard these words:
“I will only go down the zip line if mommy goes with me.”
My heart sank because I knew in that moment there was no way out because how could I help you conquer your fear so that you could enjoy a phenomenal experience that I knew you would love, if I wasn’t willing to conquer my own? I remember you being so torn with wanting to go so badly but being completely scared to do so. I knew in my heart this was a defining moment: would we turn away in fear or step out into it?
After thinking through the whole situation, I very reluctantly agreed to do the zip line with you and began to put the harness on…all the while wondering what in the world was I thinking. These kinds of things truly terrify me, make me sick, and present a very real possibility of looking like a complete spectacle with arms and legs flailing wildly out of control the whole way down. Yet, I knew that despite all of the above, this was a life lesson for both of us, so I took a very deep breath and continued on.
Seconds before stepping off the wooden platform, I began to second guess the whole thing and even said, “I really don’t think I can do this!” But as I looked over at you standing next to me on your platform and saw the way you were beaming with excitement to do the zip line side-by-side with me, I knew I couldn’t back down.
So, before I could change my mind, I closed my eyes, took another deep breath, and stepped off the platform into the air. My stomach and heart both felt like they had risen into my throat, I never moved a muscle throughout the whole ordeal (pretty sure I was in shock), and to add to my terror I ended up going backwards the whole way down! Yes, backwards! Do you remember that? Nothing like not knowing when or how you are going to land on your very first trip down! You, on the other hand, squealed with delight and LOVED every moment of it as you gracefully glided through the air with your arms outstretched like a princess. You went on to do it several more times and even got choked up when we had to leave.
Beyond just being happy that I survived the whole ordeal, I walked away knowing that we had both experienced an important life lesson that when we face our fears we can conquer them. Life has so many things in store for both of us and what a great reminder to not let fear hold us back.
The last example you gave was probably one of your greatest fears: getting baptized. You accepted Jesus into your heart when you were three years old and you were not afraid to tell everyone about it. You have always been bold like that. However, getting up in front of the whole church was a different story, so we knew you needed to wait until you were ready. When our neighbor’s daughter (whom you greatly admire) got baptized, we thought you would be inspired to follow her example and do the same. But much to our surprise, we left that service and you emphatically proclaimed, “I am NEVER doing that!” Thus, we decided that we would not push at all and let you work through your fear no matter how long it took. Again, much to our surprise, you decided out of the blue after a church service that you wanted to get baptized the very next Sunday which also happened to be Mother’s Day. You didn’t want us to tell anyone ahead of time or make a big deal out of it. (Who me??? I don’t make a big deal out of anything! I can’t imagine what you were talking about! LOL!) I’ll never forget how nervous you were, but your mind was made up and you followed through with your decision to follow Jesus in Believer’s Baptism. Your dad and I were so proud of you and our hearts were just bursting with excitement as we watched you so bravely plunge into the waters and rise out of them with such a huge smile on your face! Yet one more example of rising above your fear and for sure the best Mother’s Day gift ever!
The truth is, lovey, we all have fears. The Bible is full of examples of people who could have been paralyzed by fear. Think of how Moses and the Israelites must have felt when the Egyptians were chasing them down to kill them. As they passed through the waters of the Red Sea that had been parted, I’m sure they felt a little panicky and wondered if the waters were going to stay parted for them or if the Egyptians were going to catch up to them. And how about Daniel who was thrown into the lion’s den with no way out? How terrifying was that? Or what about Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego who were thrown into the fiery furnace? Just seeing the flames and smelling the smoke would have done me in! None of these people knew if they would even make it out alive, yet they chose to rise above their fear and to place their complete trust in God.
I don’t have to tell you that life is hard sometimes. Unfortunately, you’ve heard a lot of words lately that I wish you never had to hear. Words like Pneumonia, Cancer, Chemotherapy, Alzheimer’s and Hospitals. You and I have been praying every night in bed for all of these things, and you’ve watched me do my best to be brave when, if I’m honest, my heart has been heavy and scared. But my prayer is that through it all, you have seen the way God has carried our family through. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us and to give us strength and courage when we cry out to Him. I hope you never forget that, sweet girl. No matter what happens, God, the Maker of heaven and earth, is always with you! He is your strength, your help, and your everything (Psalm 124:8).
A famous quote by John Wayne that I know you’ll love is: Fear is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.
So, you keep saddling up, sweet girl, and know that God is with you and your daddy and I are here cheering you on and ready at any point to help you face your fear…even if we have to jump 40 feet to conquer it!
Love you forever, Mom