I’ve been honest about my anxiety issues. The Lord provided me a solution through scripture memorization and prayer. With His strength, I’ve been able to drive over bridges and face other fears with only faint panic. That was until my mother took my sister Sorella, me, and our children to Disney.
An amusement park is a minefield of my phobias. Things wait there that go up and then down, rapidly. Dark spaces and tight spaces lurk around every sparkly corner.
However, I was excited. It’s Disney, after all. I knew there would be challenges, but I also knew God would give me strength. I couldn’t wait to be an example to the children. I would teach them boldly, “Fear is not the boss; I am.” They would see me and know they could conquer their own fears.
Until the first ride…
Smash, who is six and neural atypical, began to have doubts about the attraction.
“You’ve ridden it before, and liked it,” Sorella gently reminded him.
“Who’s the boss? You or your fear?” I asked.
Soon, the whole group of us were trying to reassure him. But it was clear, Smash wasn’t buying it. The closer we got to the ride, the more agitated he became. Finally just before boarding, he declared he couldn’t do it as tears formed in his eyes.
I watched as Sorella led him away from the rest of us. I felt sorry for the little guy, but personally fine about the ride. God would give me victory, if I applied the tools he’d given me.
Then the door opened…
The space looked like how I would imagine a human-sized sardine can. I wondered how four people could cram in there and have enough oxygen.
“I can do this. The Lord is with me,” I thought as I entered.
I sat in the narrow seat and silently prayed. I took deep breaths, forcing my heart to slow. I tried not to think about how this might be how it feels inside a cigar tube. I reached up and pulled down the u-shaped restraint. It settled heavily on my shoulders and chest, bringing the stark reality of my circumstance into focus. I pushed at the bar. It didn’t budge. I squirmed in my seat. I pushed at the bar again, hoping to give myself a little more room between it and my person. It didn’t budge. I was trapped. Panic barreled into my brain.
“I can do this. God is with me,” I thought and prayed again for victory over my fear.
I pushed at the restraint once more. I reminded myself that I had plenty of oxygen. Then I remembered that during the course of the ride, the front wall would tilt forward, crashing into my already limited space and pinning me in a tin can. The little control I had over my galloping fear evaporated. I was done. Fear won.
When the cast member came by to check my restraints, I blurted, “I’m tappin’ out. I gotta go.”
I left the ride and found Sorella. With a sigh, I plopped beside her. “I couldn’t do it.”
“Smash was crying by the time we got in here,” she said. I looked around and spied him playing on the indoor jungle gym.
“I feel like a failure.”
“Would you call Smash a failure?”
“No! That’s different.”
“Does he know the difference? Or if he heard you call yourself that, would he think he was a failure, too?”
I thought about how he must have felt walking away from his siblings and beloved cousin. He knew they’re weren’t afraid, even though he was. I wondered if he did consider himself a failure in that moment.
My perspective took a hard left. No, God had not given me the strength I needed. He had said, “No. I won’t remove your fear.” Because, he had a larger plan.
Smash ran past me, and I grabbed him. “I couldn’t do it either,” I said.
“It was too scary,” he answered.
“Yes, it was,” I agreed. “And that’s okay, we’re having fun out here.”
He trotted off to play more. God used my fear for his glory. I realized that I was not to be an example of strength, but an example of weakness. Smash saw me choose to sit out, while others rode. He learned that sometimes it’s okay to be afraid. Sometimes, even adults get scared.
“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT