Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Courage, dear heart...

I want to take you on a journey.  Close your eyes. Relax. Take a deep breath.

Imagine that you are at the beach. Wildwood, NJ to be exact. It is a warm, sunny day and your family is all around. Wildwood has a gorgeous boardwalk along their coastline with shops, fried food, and roller coasters. Yes, roller coasters.

Amidst these metal-laden-gravity-defying-merry-go-round-contraptions are the ultimate, death defying, free-falling-quick trips to insanity devices that hurl you just to the brink of no return and bring you back again. What is this? It’s called a Sky Coaster. Oh, you’re laughing? Ok, maybe I exaggerated. A swing; it’s a giant swing.

But in 2011, I thought I had literally defied death when I was able to walk off of it alive. 
I was in a phase of life where I wanted to try everything at least once. So of course, I wasn’t going to say no to this. Especially when I was with Mandi, a tried and true adrenaline junky. And, I reasoned, how bad could it be? It really is like a giant swing, except I get to lay down the entire time! So off I went.

Fear is beginning to set in...
They hook you up in this harness that gently lifts you up into the air. As it pulls you up, it lays you down, so you are completely horizontal. At this point, my stomach tightens, my heart starts to race, and I begin to question my entire existence because I know – I KNOW – I am about meet Jesus. And there is nothing more powerful in life than knowing it is about to end because of your own stupid fault.

Once we are in position (and by that, I mean that we are fully suspended over 100 feet in the air, with nothing but a little plastic mat and a cord between me and eternity) we stop. One of us had to be the one to pull the release cord once in position in order to “drop.” And you know, if I was in charge of it, we would

While I am freaking out, this is just
a walk in the park for Mandi! 

Mandi, being all too eager for this, did not even hesitate for me to gather my thoughts. I mean, at least she could’ve waited a minute so I could rehearse what I would say when I enter the Pearly Gates and Jesus asks me why I was so stupid, right? But no – they said ready, and boy, she was!

Fear. Absolute, undeniable, unmistakable fear. You can see it in my face. I can feel it even now. If you are quiet enough, you can still hear my screaming throughout the entire park as we were propelled side to side, where people stopped from all corners of the park to pity the poor girl who had to go through this beside me. (No joke, when I was able to peek through my eyelids, I saw people from the four corner of the park stopped and looking in my direction.)
Not sure if it's more miraculous that I am
alive or if Mandi is alive - i nearly snapped
her in two! #deathgrip

I felt this again recently when my hubby and I took our official tour of the hospital’s maternity ward. The first room we stopped in was where – in 2 months – I will be giving birth to my baby boy. Now, I know I am pregnant. And I know that there is only one way this baby is coming out….through me. But up until this moment, I didn’t really know. There we were, in a small crowd of people, listening to the RN talk about hospital procedures. All I saw was the bed, the machines, and the stirrups. The stirrups weren’t even at the foot of the bed where they should be…they were at the sides of the bed. Why? Probably because that’s where they *think* my feet will be when I am pushing this human being out of me. How do they expect me to do that?? Suddenly, I remembered this intense feeling. This feeling of not wanting to go forward and wishing you could turn back. Wondering if there were some small chance I could change my mind and find the one loophole that has escaped all womanhood since Eve got caught in the garden of Eden. I looked at my hubby with panic in my eyes, and all I could say was, “I’m not ready! I’m not ready!” (Meanwhile, he just laughed and told me I should’ve thought about that 8 months ago…) 
Ok, I don't remember it looking this pleasant...and well, happy...

Have you ever felt this way? Have you felt fear so strong that it almost paralyzed you? Maybe it did paralyze you? I know when I have felt this way, it usually meant God was getting ready to do something in my life. Something was about to change. But usually it was me that was about to change.

What were those moments for you? Maybe it was deciding to leave your home and move across country. Maybe it was taking a job that made less money or required sacrifice of some kind. Maybe it was leaving a toxic relationship. Or deciding to go to church for the first time. Or to go through with that pregnancy.

Whatever your moment is, know that we all have them. We have to have them. There’s an old saying that God loves us just the way we are, but too much to leave us that way (Leighton Ford). I can look back on all of my moments of darkness and fear and when I felt the most desperate and realize how much I have grown from those experiences. Many of those times, I chose to do the wrong thing – to stay in that bad relationship, to go against proper judgment. But God, in His goodness and grace, used those moments to refine me, to strengthen me, and to show me just how powerful He is and how much He loves me.

God, in His infinite wisdom, uses what would be meant to destroy us in order to rebuild us. He is the one who restores us; He picks us up at our lowest and breathes life back into our weary and frightened souls. I have been at this crossroads more times than I can count. And He has never failed me.

Image result for courage cs lewisFear can be paralyzing. But faith is what can propel us forward to be and accomplish all that God has for us. And not just faith in ourselves; have faith in who God is. We will fail. Left to my own devices, I may still have been in that spiritually oppressive, abusive marriage from years ago. But despite my failures, I knew that God wanted better for me. Not only has he provided a new love, and a new life (both figuratively and literally) for me, but He has allowed me to use my past pain to help women going forward. Only God can do that. 

So if you are feeling that gnawing, anxious feeling – be encouraged! God may be getting ready to do something marvelous in your life. You just have to step aside and let Him!

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