Apparently the fifteenth declaration from a frightened wife while driving ever slower on an icy, snow covered road in a 4×4 is the point at which a young husband’s patience runs completely out.
He floors the truck, does a 180 degree doughnut, and lands us in a ditch – a ditch, mind you, that he immediately proceeds to pull back out of with the kind of great skill and ease that is known only to resourceful, self-made men.
“You tried to kill me!”
“I tried to show you.”
“Show me what?! How to almost die?!”
“That nothing bad is going to happen even if we slide on the ice.”
“I can’t believe you tried to kill me.”
That was over a decade ago. I still bring it up when I’m the passenger on snowy days. He still gets aggravated with me when I tell him I’m scared as he drives 30 miles per hour over thoroughly plowed and salted roads.
“What are you afraid of?! Nothing is going to happen.”
“I know. You’re a good driver. Remember when you tried to kill me, honey?”
Fear. I struggle with fear. Sometimes irrational; other times justified; always sinful – rooted in unbelief and distrust.
I sit awake long after midnight wondering. Why am I afraid? Why do I fear over fragments of falsehood and figments of my own making? Why is it so hard to take words and what if’s at face value? Why can’t I just rest knowing that whatever happens is exactly what God is willing. Why don’t I trust the truth?
This past weekend we spent an hour on the bunny slope and decided it was time to test our snow legs on the real ski slopes. After not exiting the lift on cue, my 7 year old picked up her pride and whisked her way straight down without blinking. On the contrary, on her skis at the top of the summit looking down, my 10 year old looked like I felt in that old truck so long ago.
It was written all over her face in flaring redness and tears. Fear. Crippling, feel it from head to feet, fiasco feeding fear.
One hour later, we finally found the base of the mountain.
It’s not that Mia couldn’t ski. It’s that she was afraid to. And fear makes little girls like us fail every time.
“If only she knew,” I thought. If only she knew that she can do this. She doesn’t trust herself. She doesn’t trust me. She doesn’t trust her daddy. She has no confidence. She believes she will fail. She can see no scenario in which she will succeed without severe pain and suffering. She doesn’t know what I know. I know she can do it. I know she’ll be ok. I know there’s no reason to fear this hill because I know daddy won’t let her veer off the path. I know I won’t leave her side. But all she can think is that she will fall. She will speed out of control; she will land in the trees; she will will be left alone with no way down. She feels trapped; enslaved to the expectations of others and the situation that lies in front of her. No amount of encouragement can break through her wall of fear. She does not believe me no matter what I say. Her vote has been cast and it is against herself. Even if I were to pack her up and carry her down the mountain she would still be angry – at herself, her failure, her fear, and her father for plopping her in this predicament.
Well, like I said, we were able to coax Mia down the mountain inch by inch, eventually. But I fear (ironic?) that I am still standing on the tippie top of many of my own – the most ridiculous of which has to do with prayer.
Prayer. So many times prayer seems so tumultuous to me. The place of goodness and peace is surrounded by a foreboding angst and I stand at the precipice stalling. I do not enter.
Will my Father fail me? Surely not. My false beliefs are frustrating me. My fear befriends me as my feelings dissuade any attempts at freedom. I close up; I stay silent; I run away from soundness and I sleep in my unspiritual cell. Am I really safe here? How absurd.
Little wonder why the mechanic sometimes floors it in frustration. My fear is often nothing short of tomfoolery.
I turn on the radio and plug in my phone. It will not connect to my music. As I become impatient, the radio broadcasts a sermon. I plug it in and out a few more times before remembering the few terse words I threw up before leaving. “Speak to me, Lord.”
I stop the furious plugging and unplugging and I hear Him. “You asked God to speak to you, didn’t you, Lori?”
The preacher tells me that whoever hears the truth and does not do it is a fool. Immediately I know. I know what I must do. Surely I can pray. I can be vulnerable without freaking out on myself. I can fall down in front of Him and know I have nothing to fear. He will not be surprised by my shortcomings so easily seen on the slippery slope of spoken words. He will not leave me alone or let me veer off the path of prayer. I will not have control, but He will. I will trust Him and we will make it to the bottom of every unsafe situation. Because He is there, I have nothing to fear. Because He is in control, I have nothing to fear. Because He is good, I have nothing to fear. Because He is trustworthy, I have nothing to fear. Because He loves me, I have nothing to fear.
I will stop believing He is trying to kill me. I will allow Him to show me that He is a much better driver than I am. I will trust Him. I will pray for grace to trust him more. Amen.
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