Recently, while on a family vacation, my husband Rob suggested we drive to some railroad trestle trail where we could see beautiful views while biking. As we traveled up a windy hill on paved roads in the car we soon found ourselves climbing heights on gravel roads out into the boonies wondering if we were in the right place. Perhaps an ATV would have been a better idea, I was thinking, as i said “I should have been wearing a sports bra for this ride.” When we got to the parking spot for bikers and hikers, the terrain and view truly were incredible. You could see the Okanagan valley, wildflowers, gorgeous trees, and rocks, all that beckoned you to push your pedals. So we did. We hopped on our bikes and took to the trail.
I am going to start by saying, I am a big weenie. I am the opposite of extreme sports. What would you call that? Extreme scaredycatness? That’s my sport. I mean don’t get me wrong, I can ride a bike with one hand. (Such a big deal, I know.) I could handle this trail…. until it dropped off to what felt like a very narrow gymnastic beam with cliffs on the side that could suck my children off the edge to never see them again. And even then, I did o.k. But I have this thing. Call it fear of heights, call it whatever. Psychoanalyze me on your own time….but when I am high up, I feel like I am going to fall off into the abyss and my feet actually get sharp shooting pains, I start sweating and my stomach hurts. I feel like I should just jump so that I can end the inevitable and get it over with because my mind convinces me that this- is going to happen. I am going to go off the edge. So this was my physical and mental state when we hit our first train trestle.
These trestles were hundreds of feet up in the air and only a few feet across with little boards on both sides keeping you alive. Any of you, I am sure would think crossing one is no big deal. But my mind told me the big deal was that I was going to get freaked out, steer my bike into the small wooden side keeping me hedged in and crash, falling over the edge! And even if I didn’t end up as nothing but a wooden cross with fake flowers on some trail head someday, I was just no longer having fun.
I pushed through the first trestle, then the second, but the third just drove me to tears. I stopped, got off my bike looked at my family who had made it all the way across the trestle and then looked down at the ground too far below. I started crying. This was a new site for my kids, to see their mom upset because she was afraid. It was ridiculous. Seriously, embarrassing, extreme wimp material. Aidan, my son, was yelling from the other side “Mom- it’s no big deal! It’s fine, just ride across the trestle.” In my irrational fear state, I emotionally tried to explain to my ten year old who fears nothing(except maybe girls) “Aidan, you can’t take away fear by telling someone it’s no big deal!”
Rob got off his bike, put the kickstand down and walked over to me and instead of making fun of my fear or trying to explain rationality and logic into it, he said “I will walk with you.” That moment gave me exactly what I needed to keep going. I was going to stop. I was going to turn around and wait by the car. I was going to go down as the weeniewimpscaredycat. We walked that trestle and then the next trestle I rode and my whole family cheered me on “Yay mom! Good job! Way to push through!” We rode through several trestles, a cave and a lot of trail and bonded by pushing through together. When I came over the last trestle, I was struck with what was so significant about this experience.
Fear can only be conquered when someone says “I am with you.”
Rob said to me what I see in Jesus. This is what Jesus did when His disciples were afraid. When they were on the Mount of Transfiguration and freaking out, Jesus came to them, (Matthew 17 ) touched them and in His presence with them said “Do not be afraid.” When Peter was walking on water and he got afraid and began to sink, (Matthew 14) Jesus immediately reached out His hand letting Peter know “I am with you” and Peter was able to defy odds, gravity and fear of sinking because Jesus reminded Peter that he was not alone. Jesus reminded his posse in a boat (Matthew 8) when a huge squall came over them and they were peeing their pants, “I am with you” and His presence brought peace and His voice rebuked the winds and the waves.
If you know someone who is struggling with fear, you too, like Jesus, can remind people you are with them when they feel like they might drown, sink, fail, get injured or disappoint. Saying those four words replaces fear with presence. Speaking rationally and logically might seem like a good idea, yet most fears are not logical nor rational. Reminding someone that what they fear is no big deal, doesn’t make it any smaller of a big deal. It only makes their big deal bigger because other people think it’s small.
Standing with someone who is afraid of relationship and saying “I am with you” might actually be just what a person needs to walk the trestle toward connection. Putting down your kickstand and walking toward someone who has just had their path change and they are deathly afraid- and putting your arm around them and saying “I am with you on this new road” just might help them realize trails they never knew existed. Echoing the words of God, “I am with you” to someone who is afraid to give up the very thing that paralyzes them, just might be what causes them to move for the first time in far too long. Cheering someone on who just accomplished something that might not be a big deal to you,
but you know it is for them, is saying “I am with you.” And saying “I am with you.” That just might be the most Christ like thing you can say to someone who is afraid. “I am with you”, just might be what will help the wounded and fearful see new terrain, experience freedom, claim conquers and live out of fear, instead of into fear, pedaling into the journey they are meant to travel.
From one weenie to another….what has helped you push through your fears? How can we help one another? Share with one another here….