Sunday, July 08, 2007
Saddling Up Anyway
I find it odd - we humans tend to ignore track records, our own or someone else’s. Instead we focus on what hasn’t been done, what appears insurmountable. We’ve been doing this for quite awhile, going back to Moses and the Red Sea. After the Israelites walked across on dry land, it wasn’t long til the entire band doubted Moses and God. Even Moses wasn’t always sure which side he was on – doubter or leader. Then good ole Peter (who I can often relate to), tried to step out of the boat, to walk on waves with Jesus. Faith switched to fear and he began to sink like a stone. So much for being creatures of higher thinking! Has anyone ever seen an animal sit and fret about tomorrow? It makes me wonder about the value of reasoning skills, since sometimes they’re the first obstacle we have to overcome.

In over half a century of living, I've done the usual stuff - learned to drive, gotten jobs, slept without a nightlight, stayed home alone. I moved out and lived alone at age 17. Raised a daughter mostly by myself for her first four years, when I was all of 20. Learned the basics of personal finances and budgeting. Learned to sew, crochet, quilt, draw, paint, cross-stitch and scrapbook. I learned about perennial flowers and gardens, cooking, baking. Studied nutrition, cholesterol, and other health issues. Helped raise three children, who grew into society-contributing adults. I've handled selling and buying a number of houses, and orchestrated moves across the country. Learned enough about organization to keep our house streamlined for the most part.

So why on earth, when leaving my husband and daughter at the airport a few weeks ago, was taking off in the rental car by myself intimidating? I'd mentally fretted about it for weeks. Would I do okay driving the three hours to my father's home? Then driving back, coming into Denver with it's traffic and highways criss-crossing, would I find my mother's place? A few days later we'd drive from Denver to Grand Junction, five hours across the mountains, and find our way around that town too. Then we'd drive back, and finally when my trip ended, I'd drive from my mom's to the Denver airport, and return the rental car. Get to the airport, on my plane, make a connection which involved changing concourses, then fly home. I'd do all the stuff my husband normally handles for us. My bottom-line fear is/was of being lost, not knowing where I am, or where I’m supposed to go. C.O.N.T.R.O.L…….. or the lack thereof scares me. If I think it through, I can see that same vein running through many things that frighten me.

The solution? One day at a time, rather than the entire journey. Each day I'd mentally look ahead to the next leg of the journey. No further. I’d picture myself driving through the mountain tunnels, stopping here and there for food and gas, checking into a hotel with Mom. I visualized driving through the heavy traffic of Denver, headed to the airport, then after turning in the car, standing in security waiting to go through to my plane. The night before the final drive to the airport, I was tired and needed to sleep. The peace I felt, giving it to God to go ahead of me, helped sleep come easily. One step at a time I'd follow. I was confident in where I placed my trust. He was a better bet than any GPS system out there today. If I let myself, I could still fret over it, but I was able to look just ahead, around the corner, and see that I would accomplish the next leg. It would be okay.

I also knew it was something I NEEDED to do, to accomplish. I thought about how great it would feel, at the end of the entire trek, to know I could do it. To know fear didn't have it's hold on me. If I get a call and need to fly out to be with family across the country, I can do that. I can rent a car, drive to wherever I'm needed, and return home without my husband's help. If I need to. Heck, even If I just want to.

As I drove through the traffic to the airport, taking each exit as it came up, then seeing the car rental return place, it felt great to be the adult, do the grownup thing. Sitting on the plane for my last leg to return home felt wonderful. I’d fretted over, faced, then finished what I’d set out to do. When we were in Colorado, I saw this quote at my brother-in-law's home. He and his wife have a deep love of horses and all things western, so it was fitting for their decor. It was also fitting for my journey.

"Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway."

John Wayne

What we're unafraid of isn’t the issue. It's being scared, then doing it anyway. My road trip was just this summer’s challenge. I'm sure life will have many more. Many will present much bigger mountains than this roadtrip did. Only by facing what I’m afraid of, plowing through, or even tiptoeing timidly, will I overcome “it”. And only with God’s help will I do it at all. God doesn’t call us to a spirit of fear, but to trusting him. He’s not going to leave me high and dry - he’ll be there with me, step by step, a parent protecting a child as he or she takes those first steps.

I’ve still got a list as long as my arm of situations or things that tend to frighten me. Having one less on my list is something to celebrate. I wonder what fears others face. I'm not talking about the things we should be wary of, like dark parking lots at night, or the river's current, or holding some creepy critter. I'm talking about whatever it is that makes us freeze in fear rather than live in faith. I so wish I could encourage each one of you to tackle 'it', one step at a time. Maybe it’s a conversation, opening a stack of bills, making an appointment, backing out of the driveway, walking out of the door. I can tell you it feels wonderful this side of that mountain of fear I faced. It will for you too, I promise.


  posted at 7:45 AM

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    Girl Raised in the South

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