The Swings…the place where one of my worst “what If” fears became the “oh sweet Jesus, we are actually stuck.”
On a bright and cheery Monday morning, our fam of six set out with friends for a day of thrilling adventure courtesy of an amusement park full of rides waiting to be explored. We started out small on a kiddie coaster and it was pure, hands in the air, JOY, for our brood of six. Right next door was this fun little ride.
We coaxed our notoriously non rider to ride it. “It will be great. NO big deal. YOU got this. These are totally safe.”
To our utter astonishment, he agreed. It was a two seater so I took Judson, Jason took Bradley and the girls rode together. Great. Awesome.
We buckle the belt, listen to fourteen announcements, and up we go.
Up and Up and Up and Up..150 feet in the air. .0284 miles. 50 yards. 15 stories…in the Air.
Then we started swinging. Around and around at 40 mph and I’m thinking.. “This is so cool. Look at Bradley conquering his fear. Thank you, Jesus, for giving him courage.”
It was glorious. I was answering one of the 45 questions Judson had in a 2 minute span, looking around.
Then all of a sudden we are a slowing. Slowing. Slowing and I’m thinking. “NOoooo, this is just part of the ride.” Until we STOP.
And hear, “We apologize for the inconvenience, but we are experiencing technical difficulties. Maintenance is on its way. You are safe.”
So here are the lessons I learned over the next 10 minutes while suspended 150 feet in the air with my five year old, waiting to plummet to my death.
1. We either fuel our fear or we face it
Fear is simply the emotion we feel when we believe we are in danger of a person or something and it is likely to cause pain. The crazy thing is we often label something as a fear, that simply has NO power to harm us. For instance, the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof our mouth…not a fear. Fear of peanut butter causing us to go into Anaphylactic shock due to an allergy…legitimate fear. While suspended in the air, I had to make the choice to calm my heart, trust the Lord, and speak Truth to myself. I made myself look around, down and all around. My entire family was on this ride and I had zero power to control the outcome. Fear could have caused me to think that we should never get on a ride again because we could die. Facing our fears, many of which are based on what ifs, often stops us from living. Abundant Life is usually not on the safe side of fear, where we overestimate our ability to control things, but rather on the facing of it, moving through the lies to the Truth, and choosing the overcome that which has held us back.
2. I answered the question of what if.
What if we are up here for two hours? What if we fall to our death or life altering injury? What if Judson slips through the two safety belts? What if Bradley starts to panic? What if?
What if every one of these fears happens?
We are up here for two hours and live to tell about it. We die or have a life altering injury, which makes God no less Awesome. Judson will not slip because my hand is on him the whole time. Bradley panics and his Daddy is right beside him to walk him through it.
We spend so much energy on the mere possibilities of life that we miss on the realities right in front of us. We live so much of our life in the worst case scenario. We live in the contingency plans of our own making instead of choosing to trust God and His infinite plan. I decided while suspended in the air, that when the what if’s lead me to living in fear, then I am going to remind myself of the Truth on the other side of the what if. Bad things happen. But that doesn’t make God any less Sovereign or me any less loved.
3. Perspective changes everything.
It really does start in your head. It really does start with a choice. You are the only one who can control what you say to yourself. Life happens, bad things happen…but so do great things. I realized that this could be our worst nightmare, but it could also be part of the greatest adventure that God is allowing us to walk. Courage is a decision, a choice. No matter what, His GRACE is enough. He promised that to us and I chose to believe it. Daily, I am choosing to believe it. If we plummet to our death, if we are stranded for hours…His love never leaves me, nor do my circumstances make God any less good, and perfect and enough.
4. Judson does not possess the fear of death gene.
This is really just another way of saying he doesn’t know to be afraid of things that can cause him pain. Since day one, he has pushed the boundaries of his own safety. There is just a part of him that wants to always see if we mean what we say. Yes, the stove is hot, Judson. Don’t run in the road, Judson. Right after he asked me why the ride stopped, we went on to have a conversation about what would happen if he fell. “Would I die?” he asks, to which I make the 3 second, split second decision to say, “Yes, yes you most likely would.”
So what does Judson do?
Look at me and scoot down in his seat towards his imminent death.
He seriously may be the death of me. My hand might have clamped down on his leg in lightening speed and the words might have come out of my mouth in a much more severe manner than normal, but I shared, with love, not to do that again.There is courage and bravery and then their is reckless stupidity. I am praying he learns to be brave because I know there is so much he has overcome and still more that he will face, but let’s not throw gasoline on the fire, and learn to practice a little wisdom. As his mom, I want to set him up to choose courage, to live life based on the Truth of God and not the fear of man. I have seen my fair share of helicopter parents who want to shield and protect and SPF their kids to the point that their natural response is to choose the safe route, the predictable, winnable path. We do our kids a disservice when we allow our fears to become the banner that they raise to live life on this side of what could be. There is a difference between seeking parental wisdom, trusting our gut and knowing the line and just flat out trying to keep our children from the very lessons that God will use to bring out his character in them, for His plans, for His Kingdom and for His Fame.
The swings taught me a lot that day. They reminded me that I am not promised tomorrow, this afternoon, or even my next breath. Life is fleeting and fast, but I have this moment to live, to enjoy, to learn, and to embrace.
So for today, I choose to not live in the what ifs, to trust Him in my every moments. ,