life reflection at midnight

“There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” – C.S. Lewis

Within the past week alone I’ve several times said, “my best days are behind me.” In the pit of confusion and self-loathing I honestly believed this to be true. Approaching another birthday that yet again makes me feel like I’m anywhere but where a woman my age should be, I look at life now, where it was a few years back, and just can’t shake the negative conclusions that flood my mind. But is this what life was meant to be like? Dwelling on past victories or failures? On a past anything? Hopelessly dreading what’s to come ahead? If only we were to truly believe that better things area ahead. How do I even know that for sure? Life is full of it’s disappointments, disasters, and drudgery. Frankly, I just need a dessert!

facing fears. finding adventure.

Analytical. Over-thinker. Doubter. Fearer. Sure, I know “fearer” isn’t a word but for me it might as well be. Classic representation of what marks my life right now. In fact, if I think about it, it has always marked my life for as long as I can remember.

Little girl, afraid to climb anything too high, if anything at all. Why? Because of the fear of a scraped knee. The fear of falling. The fear of being made fun of by other kids for not being good at something. The fear if failure. Or…The fear of facing the unknown. So I stay back. I shy away from anything remotely close to climbing or exploring. I stay where it’s safe.

I still remember this same girl on the school playground watching my best friend climb high up on the monkey bars. I made an attempt but barely got very far. I admired my friend, her courage, her adventure. Yes! Her adventure. From where I observed she experienced a world of fascinating things that I would never come to know. Her perspective was more expansive than mine would ever be. Adventure. Perspective. This turtle in a shell of a girl deep down felt a certain sadness. Why was I not born brave?

Brave. Today, decades later, the scared little girl inside of me decided that she wanted to be brave. Still scared, and with an even more layered version of fear, I’ve taken on a sense of overanalyzing, overthinking, and skeptically doubting. Phew! That’s a whole lot of weight to fearfully carry around!

So imagine my lot when I get harnessed to a rope and with the company of a dear friend climbed my way to a ropes course. I feel my heart pounding with gradual, heavy beats now. But I’m determined. Because the only way to truly conquer any fear is to face it head on.

I bravely tackled most of the courses on one level and was ready to call it a day. Until I was challenged to go to the highest level. Heavy sigh, looking above, and not wanting this thing to get the best of me, I agreed and climbed my way to level 3. Oh my jeepers! “Don’t look down” is all I could think. I discovered some courses that I was more comfortable with – though still terrifying. “Kameish, try this one,” I hear that friendly voice call out. No…No… I can’t. I can’t do this. Pervasive thoughts as I stood clinging to the piece of my rope that kept me harnessed. Jumbled thoughts in my mind all culminating in the word, “No.”

Deep down, I know I have to do this. And I want to cry now. But if I do, I let my emotions, the over-thinking, the over-analyzing get the best of me. So I step out. Sweaty palms. Wobbly feet. There are no side rails to hold on to up here. I can’t look down but I need to watch my feet in order to continue across. I see the ground way beneath me. I’ve already stepped out, therefore I can’t turn back now. Only continue.

I feel the thoughts wanting to rush to my mind and as they do I feel the sole of my foot begin to slip off the tiny rectangular piece of swaying wood. No. The only ‘no’ that belongs here is saying no to the thoughts that cause fear, cause me to doubt, cause me to lose my steadiness. Don’t over-think. Stay the course. Focus on the next step. Then the next one. Palms so sweaty that my hand begins to slip off the rope. Drowning out the overbearing thoughts, I steady myself and finish the course.

Done. Defeated. Conquered. Fear faced. I learned much about myself. I saw firsthand the result of over-thinking things and letting my mind wander off to the place of “why did I decide to do this?” “I shouldn’t have done this.” “I made the wrong choice.” These thoughts caused me to lose my steadiness.

This is my life. It’s what I’ve allowed to happen to me as I’m inundated by fear. But the Lord reminded me that I’m harnessed to Him and He is sure, steadfast. As He draws me to take the next scary step in faith I must hold on to Him knowing He won’t let me fall. Don’t let the thoughts of all the ‘buts’ and ‘what ifs’ flood my mind. Just focus on the course ahead. Take the next step, and go! Adventure awaits. Go out there and embrace it!

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

“do you love me?”

“Do you love Me more than these?” This very thing that Jesus asked Peter in John 21 hits home and goes deep.

“Do you love Me?” Heart pricked. I feel Him prodding now.

“Do you love Me?” The All Knowing One “knows all things.” He knows. Knows the mess that lies deep down in this broken, fallen heart. The heart affected by the ugliness of this world – taken for granted, recklessly marched upon at one’s own pleasure, and disregarded as if of no true value. “Do you love Me?” he yet asks. At this I come to the realization that to love is something that I’ve attempted to no longer allow of myself. How can I love Him when I’ve miscalculated His love?

But He knows. He knows this heart. Built up walls over time, not fully blocked but carefully guarded. Only ever wanted to be treated gently, cared for as a prized treasure. Instead it has experienced disappointment, rejection, indifference. Was it not of any worth?

He who knows wants to take up full residence of this heart. Remove the walls that must be broken down in order to give and accept love. My heart must trust. Freely begin to trust the Trusted One. So that He can heal. He has promised that He is close to this broken heart and rescues the spirit crushed (Psalm 34:18). In Him there is no deceit. He is not self-seeking. He doesn’t wound. He doesn’t look the other way. He sees. He is love itself!

“Do you love Me?” Behold the most freeing question my heart has ever been asked. Yes. A thousand times, yes! And here I am loving Him freely. Knowing that this broken world has broken me. It has broken everything. But Jesus mends, restores, makes brand new. He makes this heart believe, hope, dream, and most importantly, love.

Friend, when you think of the question that Jesus asks Peter, think of how wildly and deeply He loves you. He unconditionally loves you! Can you grasp the weight of that? That love led Him to being murdered so that you would live eternally should you accept Him. Accept that love. Freely love Him. (rf. Romans 8:35, Mark 12:30-31, John 21:15-17).

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