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)