- When I think back on it, I just shake my head. I am a little amazed at my twenty year old self, as I’m sure a lot of you are in your own reflections of youth. Actually there’s probably a lot of things, too many really, that could cause me to shake my head in disbelief over my twenties, but this post in particular is relating to my experiences free climbing. When I was twenty years old I lived in Barbados, a small Caribbean island. I was there attending a school for missionaries, but honestly adored the surrounding setting of my campus life. I frequently would awake before dawn, jog to the ocean, and spend my quiet time on top of a cliff, watching the sunrise and praying. There happened to be a lot of cliffs bordering the island, and a classmate and I used to spend our free time hiking, swimming, and cliff-jumping. She had a friend who had died from jumping into the ocean off of a cliff, but though she shared this with me, it never hampered her own drops into the salty drink, nor did it mine. As we spent more time scaling the cliffs, and in turn became more adept at it, we also gained confidence, bravery, and a thirst for adventurous risk. I can still remember the adrenaline coursing through my veins as I pulled my body up the side of a high cliff, while the cords stood out on my neck, and my upper arms supported and held the weight of the rest of my body. I remember hanging there, my hands dug into a crevice, holding tight, and my body dangling off the ground, so high, and so far to drop to the hard, wet sand below. I remember realizing that I had no choice but to pull my body weight up to the shelf of rock above me, for there was no going back, only forward. What I remember most, though, was that I was not afraid. I felt excitement definitely, but not fear. I somehow lifted my sweaty body onto the lip of the cliff, looked down briefly, and turned back upward, continuing my climb until my friend and I reached the top, greeting each other with huge smiles and high fives.
- I think back sometimes to moments like that and I wonder for a moment, where did that girl go. As a child I was always in a tree, always at the very tip top. I loved the roller coaster, especially the ones that went upside down. I played miles deep in the woods, with no concern for the wild animals I knew that were there, watching me silently. I know that as you get older, it just somehow changes. You stop taking the chances, and only take a risk if it’s highly calculated. You develop a healthy fear of keeping yourself safe. I suppose it’s good that you lose the carefree, cavalier attitude. I didn’t really mind until it began to affect me negatively. Especially after having my first child, I realized that I had developed fear for things where no fear had previously existed. A perfect example was my career. I am a nurse, and have been in the medical field for approximately fifteen years. In the Navy I saw a lot of things I would rather forget concerning the medevac of soldiers from Afghanistan, but those images didn’t frighten me. After I became a RN, I gravitated towards critical care. While it was fast paced and serious work, it never caused me fear. I came to a point a couple of years ago where I realized I was having fear at work. It had come suddenly it seemed. I had taken a break from critical care nursing, trying other faucets of the field, and had returned to it after a three year furlough. A terrible thing happened when I found myself back in the uncertain action: I was terrified! Try as I might, I couldn’t shake my fear. It is like riding a bike, and it did all come back to me quickly, but I couldn’t relax. I was worried I would make a mistake, do something wrong, and hurt somebody. Little occurrences, (well little for a critical care setting), would occur, and I would feel my heart rate accelerate, and my bowels feel like they were threatening to loosen. It’s embarrassing really. Most critical care and emergency room nurses love that adrenaline rush, and I had been one of them. I couldn’t understand what had happened, what had changed about me. I was a nervous wreck, like a cat with my hair standing on end, waiting for the ball to drop so I could jump out of my skin. And I was miserable! I’m too old for this! I thought. I just can’t do this anymore! I found myself in a awful position. I wasn’t happy with what I was doing, but I wasn’t sure what else I could do. I didn’t want to bolt, and in essence go from the frying pan into boiling water. So, I stayed put. I dug my fingers in, and I prayed. I prayed and I prayed. I didn’t like being afraid. It made me feel helpless. I didn’t know what to do about my fear, how I could make it go away. So, I just kept praying. Every day.
- I can’t pinpoint a specific day that things changed. I just realized one day that they had. I stood in the shower one morning getting ready for a day at work, and my realization gave me pause. I stood there in the hot spray and realized I wasn’t afraid. I had spent so many mornings just like that one praying for God to go before me and make the way. So many mornings I had proclaimed scriptures out loud as I got ready, stating them as truths in my life, and using them as armor to ward off the fear that threatened to overcome me. Really, it was fear of the unknown I think. In critical care so many unknown things can occur. For some reason, though that had never bothered me in the past, it had become an issue. As I realized that there is no unknown to God, the fear could dissipate. As I believed that He would take care of me, the fear lessened. As I began to truly trust that He had my best interests in mind and would effectively direct my hands and thoughts, fear left me. I could perform my work, in the area God had placed me, and perform it confidently without fear of failure. He had essentially freed me from a fear I thought was overwhelming.
I read this verse this morning, and it just resonated throughout my spirit.
26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
It is so true. I serve a King who can say to the raging ocean, “Stop,” and the waves heed His command. How can I have fear when I serve a God like that? How can I have fear when I am in a relationship with a Savior who commands the wind to cease its blowing gale? Being in communion with my Heavenly Father is a relationship journey, where I continue to climb to higher heights. Like my cliff climbing days of my twenties, I can’t go back, for I must go forward. I must press onward and upward to the reward at the top. The difference this time around, though, is that I don’t carry my weight alone. I’m not free climbing now. I am being carried.
I have blogged on fear before. It’s relevant and worth repeating the subject, for it’s a weighty issue. But I don’t think it has to be. It doesn’t have to be as big of a problem as we allow. I’m enjoying my journey to the complete shedding of fear. I pray you will join me. There is no fear in Him.
That is all 🙂