It had been a beautiful day- perfect for a trip to the mountains with our friends. We had enjoyed touring a new youth camp that our church was building and had ridden 4-wheelers and gators on trails deep into the wilderness of this amazing property. The air was fresh and the views were absolutely breath-taking. All throughout the day, I couldn’t help but smile and reminisce of wonderful memories of going to camp when I was a child.
I was quickly pulled out of my reverie as our tour brought us to the brand new zipline that had just been installed. This was the moment the group had been anxiously waiting for. They could hardly wait to take the plunge off of the platform that loomed 40 ft. off the ground.
Everyone, that is, except for me. Being far from a thrill-seeker and one that struggles with motion-sickness, going on a zipline was definitely not in my plans for the day, but I was very happy to watch everyone else…happy until I heard these words:
“I will only go down the zipline if mommy goes with me.”
My heart sank and I immediately had a boulder in the pit of my stomach. I knew in that moment my fate was sealed as my 8 year-old daughter looked up at me with her big blue eyes earnestly imploring me to help her conquer her fear so that she could enjoy this phenomenal experience. She was so conflicted with wanting to go so badly but being completely scared to do so. I knew in my heart this was a defining moment in her life and even mine. Would we turn away in fear or step out into it?
After painstakingly thinking through the whole situation, I very reluctantly agreed to do the zipline with her 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 nauseous, 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. I knew that despite all of the above, this was a life lesson that I had to help my daughter through. The thought of how could I encourage her to face her fear, but not be willing to do the same kept going through my mind. 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 my daughter standing next to me on her platform and saw her beaming with excitement to do the zipline side-by-side with me, I knew there was no way out.
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, and to add to my terror I ended up going backwards the whole way down! Yes, backwards! Nothing like not knowing when or how you are going to land on your very first trip down!
My daughter, on the other hand, squealed with delight and LOVED every moment of it as she gracefully glided through the air with her arms outstretched like a princess. She 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 from this experience with a renewed determination to face my fear and not let it dictate my circumstances- not just on a zipline but in all areas of life.
We all have moments when fear suffocates us with its unrelenting grip on our hearts. Perhaps it’s the fear of the unknown, the fear of failure, the fear of not having control in a situation, or the fear of pain and sorrow just to name a few. But in each of these situations, we have a choice to either run away from our fear or to plunge head-long into it and face its powerful control on our lives.
Our pastor and friend, the one who was probably the most responsible for pressuring (oops, I mean convincing) my daughter & I to do the zipline, used this story in his message Sunday to illustrate that just as Emma had courage to step out because she trusted me and knew that I would be by her side the whole way down, we can find strength in knowing that God is always by our side and will help us through our greatest fears and struggles. I love that! What a great picture of how we can place our childlike faith in God to find strength when we are consumed with fear.
“Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.” ~John Wayne
What fear is holding you back?
We are all scared to death at times. The key is pushing through our fears and anxiety by recognizing that we aren’t in this alone. God is with us every step of the way and will give us exactly what we need to accomplish His purposes. He tells us in Philippians 4:13 that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. What would it look like if we really embraced and believed that verse? I believe we would let go of our fears and insecurities and we would saddle up for the exciting adventure God has waiting for us (Dare to Soar, pg 63).
So, whether we are teetering on a 40ft. zipline platform or facing a moment in life that paralyzes our hearts, let’s face our fear and bravely choose to step into whatever lies before us.
You will only conquer fear when you face it.
So why not just close your eyes, take a deep breath, and take that step today?