Who can explain fears? I certainly can’t. As a child, I wasn’t a complete scare-dy cat, but being outside in the dark was an issue and spiders continue to be problematic and one or two other things give me the creeps. All in all, I’m fairly brave….I think. Even though I know people who don’t mind the dark and love spiders, it makes me want to ask those people what is wrong with you?? It’s true that some folks will shake while walking in the dark and others will relish the peace and quiet found there. There are other things that leave some people wide-eyed and sweaty–like public speaking. Some will eagerly jump on a stage while others would rather clean a toilet than stand in front of a crowd.
Fears are strange creatures–often times unexplainable and often times- life altering.
This past week, we spent the week in fantasyland with my son and his three children. The fantasyland was Disney World where everyone sings and dances and life is good… except, if you are a child who has a fear of adventurous rides. I’m pretty sure adventurous rides were in Walt Disney’s game plan from the beginning and were never intended to scare a six year old to death, but my youngest grandson, Aevin, must have missed that memo. At six, he was the perfect age for Disney. We were so excited to take him and looked forward to watching this little fireball laugh and scream his way through all the Disney parks. After all, he has no trouble facing another football player twice his size. He’s a tough little kid. But, to our dismay, at Disney, the place for kids, he was afraid of EVERY adventure Disney offered. Rides that have brought thrills and chills to children for the past 40 years had Aevin trembling like a leaf on a windy day. Okay, there were two exceptions—the tea cups and Dumbo’s amazing flight—the two oldest Disney adventures–built before new technology. I know; it’s sad.
We should have seen it coming. Looking back, there were a few clues. The morning we arrived we happily paid our $14.00 for the privilege of parking our car and then, gathered our belongings. We headed for our first ride—the shuttle. The friendly voice from the front of the Disney shuttle calmly reminded us that children should be seated between the adults. Aevin, who never misses anything, got this. He made sure he was between us and then asked, “Is this ride going to be fast?” NOTE–clue number one. But we didn’t recognize this as a clue; we just knew this was new territory for him. So we told him it’s not very fast and went back to our trembling—caused by the unusually cold weather Florida had the week we were there!! (WHO KNEW??) This seemed to satisfy him and we still had high hopes for him joining us on Space Mountain.
The next “ride” we faced was the monorail. If you have never been to Disney, the monorail is the magical ride into the Magic Kingdom. It has been this way since Disney opened its doors. My grandparents lived in California during my childhood, so we were riding the monorail at Disneyland back when we had black and white pictures. At that time we thought the monorail was the “wave of the future’ travel. I’m still shocked that it’s not how we get to work today. As a kid, I was absolutely confident this would be the mode of transportation in 2010. In any case, the monorail is completely safe and no body part is even out of the train. Still Aevin had never been on one. Here came clue number two. The crowds were not as they can be in the summer, but still the monorail filled up quickly and we scrambled to get our seats. Of course, we couldn’t all get a seat and our polite men were left standing. Aevin noticed this and just before “blast off” he looked up at his 2-papa and screamed, yes, literally, screamed”2-Papa, find something to hold on to!” Our hopes for Space Mountain were pretty much dashed. Little Aevin’s fears were destined to keep him from “enjoying the ride”—Space Mountain just being one of them.
Isn’t this true for all of us? As I said earlier, our fears can be as different as snowflakes and only those who share the same fear can understand the impact that fear can have on one’s life. As we approached each “scary” ride, Aevin would start complaining about his stomach hurting. He even said he might throw up. It’s easy to think this is pretty dramatic unless you have been there and, I believe, most of us have, at some point, been there. No matter how unexplainable a fear is, it is real to the person suffering through it.
Life is a roller coaster. It’s a ride full of ups and downs and twists and turns and is often very scary. But, it’s a ride we all want to take. There will be days when our fears will threaten to keep us from being as “in the moment” of that day as we need to be. We will have days that seem too frightening for us to face. It may be the loss of a spouse or the termination of a job. It may be dealing with a child who is challenging or an illness that threatens our current abilities. Our stomachs will hurt and our hands will shake if we don’t take Aevin’s advice and find something to hold on to. Matthew 10:28 in The Message tells us that God holds our entire life—body and soul—in his hands! Isn’t it comforting to know that God is already holding on to us? Even on those days when we are too weak or too scared or too tired, He is already holding us in His mighty hands.
Have a great week—hold on to the one who can give your freedom from your fears.