Do you have any fears? Maybe you are afraid of spiders, heights, talking in front of large audiences, committing to something or even being alone. So many of us have fears. Sometimes these fears are minor things that dont impede out lives from day to day and some fears are so crippling we end up walking in circles like hampsters in a wheel. If you do have fears you know that when you overcome one, or at least try to work through it, there is usually something lurking underneath that is the “core” issue. While I am not here to uncover these lurking agents for you I would like to walk you through one of my own in hopes of enlightening you to something that is changing my life.
As a child, my family and I would go to the beach in the summer and it was awesome! My extended family is very large so many of us would get to go down to the same hotel to stay so that we could socialize and play together. I spent many birthdays at the beach which, to a small child, means an awesome party, right?! I remember one of my Aunts inviting a little 5 year old boy in the pool over to have some birthday cake. (Back in those days people were trusting and friendly..haha). The little boy came over to celebrate but I am still waiting for the gift he said he had for me but forgot to bring down. 🙂
Out of the many trips we had down to the ocean there were many memorable moments I won’t forget! There was one in particular I will share with you. We had a big, yellow float that the 3 of us kids would take turns riding in the ocean. My parents would pull on the cord attached to the front and we would sail over the tiny waves while feeling invincible. On one of many trips I had a “bumpy” encounter. Lucky me 🙂 Well, the waves must have picked up because all of a sudden the big, yellow float flipped over and down little Mandy went head first into the ocean water. My Dad, with his quick and steady reaction speed, reached down and grabbed my feet while pulling me feet first out of the salty waves. Now you may think I’m lying, but I actually remember my head going under and seeing little tiny fishes swimming around. In a split second I was swept up into my father’s arms safe, shaken and with tears and zinc oxide trailing down my chubby cheeks.
Needless to say, I was a tiny bit afraid of the ocean without the security of the inflatable arm floaties snuggly suctioned to my teeny arms. I later learned to swim and would even do so underwater, but would never attempt to jump into pools or the ocean on my own will. Slowly stepping into the water as tiny goosebumps grew into my skin was the way I liked to go. I envied my friends that did jumps and tricks in the pool. I secretly wanted to join them but a fear of being under the water was enough to halt that thought.
I recently went to the beach with a group of friends and I realized that I needed to get over that fear. I decided, after watching multiple children jumping into the pool with no hesitation, that I was going to jump. I decided to grab a pool noodle in one hand just in case I went down and couldn’t get back up…haha. Standing on the side of the pool while looking at the 6 foot deep water was a moment I won’t forget. I thought of the multiple brain injury patients I have worked with as a Speech Pathologist that acquired their injuries from pool accidents. I wondered how a 6 foot deepth of water would handle a 5 foot 9 girl. I knew I just needed to jump. Grabbing my noodle with my right hand and holding my nose with the left, I took the plunge. I went down fast, lost the noodle and shot back up like a firework. After swimming to the side and coughing a bit 🙂 I felt proud of my jump. With the verbal support of a friend, and another pair of eyes as proof that I actually did it, I knew I had conquered something.
Maybe you are thinking I am a total wuss but we all have fears. Would you ever get up in front of hundreds of your peers and speak, sing and play guitar? I have done that and the thought of doing it is more exciting than any form of fear I know. Looking “deeper” I know that the fear I had was not the pool in itself but the areas of uncertainty and lack of control that were the real underlying fears I had. So many times I want to go into a situation knowing and thinking through all of the possible options. I can massage an issue so much that I dig myself into a cave of fear. Will it work out? Am I doing the right thing? What if it doesn’t work out the way I want? What if it does, can I actually do this? What if I get hurt (physically or emotionally)? We can play the “What if?” game until we put ourselves into a mental jail and freeze.
I don’t know about you but I am done with letting fear creep into my mind. I know that once we allow the Holy Spirit to take control of the battle in our minds we can conquer any fear and use our gifts and blessing with others for Christ. Isaiah 41:10 says it loud and clear, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Fear of failure, rejection or lack of control is enough to make us play on the sidelines while watching all those in the game pass us by. Yes, they may sometimes fail or get hurt but they are playing and also reaping the positive results of their braveness. At the end of the day they knew they did their best with God’s help and that in itself is the goal.
As Christians we have an assurance that, just as my father here on Earth pulled me out of the deep water and into his loving arms, how much more will our Heavenly Father pull us out of any trouble or failure into His loving embrace. Matthew 7:11 reminds us that “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”
Don’t let a negative comment someone told you years ago keep you from living your life today! We have to remember that humans are not perfect and we all come with our own histories and perspectives. If someone made you feel bad or discouraged about something, pray about it and try to see what the Lord is telling you. Trusted family and friends with Biblical perspectives are your best source of support and encouragement. God is the ultimate decision maker and if you are tuned in to hearing from Him you should be encouraged to move or halt confidently in His will. With Christ as my stronghold and the Holy Spirit as my internal compass, I know that I can do ALL things through CHRIST who gives me strength!
I may never have a gifting or desire for high jumps and I may never love the feeling of water in my nose and eyes but I can use the empowering confidence of making that “leap” by also jumping into a new project, developing a talent, or strengthening a relationship. These can all help to center me into God’s will for my life. It’s the leap that is important and the awesome thing is that holding onto Christ’s hand and His word is definitely encouraged! You are NOT alone! Maybe it’s a scripture you have memorized that you can say aloud to get the fear thoughts out of your mind. Use the already created “pool noodle” of God’s word, grab ahold of His hand and JUMP! Believe me, even if the waters get rough and you think you are letting go, He won’t.