It was a warm, summer afternoon at a small, amusement park outside of town.
Among the day campers, families, and tired employees, there it was–
One of the two only rollercoasters in the entire kiddy park. Tracks shaped into small hills, slight turns, and barely-there dips. A train shaped like a friendly, green dragon that glided through it all.
I started to cry.
I was tall enough to ride the coaster, but young enough to be terrified of it.
Moments later, I was sitting next to Dad, strapped in–about to take it head on. Needless to say, I wasn’t ready. When the ride started, I cried so much that the operator stopped it so I could get off.
Years later, roller coasters became one of my favorite thrills. I don’t remember the time I tried a roller coaster for the second time, but at some point I made up my mind to face the fear–again. And as a result, I found something I love to do till this day.
My most precious experiences in life began with feelings of fear. Getting my first summer job. Taking a driver’s test to get my license. Moving out of state for college. Launching a public blog. Becoming a leader in a college ministry. Pursuing a career after college. The list goes on. Although I might have began these situations afraid, they pushed me towards major growth, deepened my relationship with God, helped me discover interests I love, and introduced me to people I would have never met.
Do you stop at the point of fear when an unfamiliar situation arises? Or do you rise to the occasion?
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7 ESV)
You can’t stand, because the place you’re in is too narrow. You can only crawl. You can’t see up ahead, and there’s not enough space for you to turn around if you wanted to. The only direction to move is forward, even though you have no idea where you’re going.
Not ideal? Yeah, I know.
When I was in elementary school, I went to a science museum with my brothers, and we experienced the Touch Tunnel. Eighty feet of pitch-black darkness, and the only way to move through was to crawl. The purpose of the tunnel was to show the significance of sight in our experience of the world.
All we had now was ourselves and our ability to feel our way through a strange abyss.
I may or may not have been afraid of the dark, but one consolation was the employee’s voice that came through the speakers any time we stalled in the tunnel: “Stay to the left, the left, the left…”
(Try not to think of Beyoncé’s lyrics. Okay, now you’re thinking about them. Anyways…)
That was the key to escape: Keep left. There were alternate routes that could lead us off course, but because we listened to the voice, we were out in no time and free to enjoy the rest of our day at the museum.
Looking back, I knew I would escape (of course), but the feeling of being stuck in a cramped place was uncomfortable.
We like our freedom. We like to know we can move around whenever and wherever we want. We like to know we can show up when we want and leave as we please. We like the lights on to see, and we like to turn the lights off when we’re done.
When something comes in and restricts us or takes away what we always had, it’s not only shocking, it can be devastating.
Maybe your top university rejected your application or you didn’t get the job at the only company you could see yourself working. Perhaps you lost a relationship that was dear to you or experienced the death of a loved one. Your finances didn’t improve the way they needed to or an important event you were waiting on got canceled. You didn’t get the score to pass that exam or you weren’t qualified enough for that program.
Disappointments can come in many forms: rejection, betrayal, failure…you name it. Each case leaves the same feeling: You had a wonderful grasp on your future, and now it’s gone. The future fell far out of your hands before you could even reach out and rescue it.
You did your best. You’ve exhausted all your efforts. Now you don’t know where to go.