… seems like a bit of a weighty task, no?
For the record, I DO do something everyday that scares and that thing is driving through the UT campus on my way to and from work. This commute is terrifying for a number of reasons, including but not limited to:
1. You may encounter a drunk driver at any time of day, 7 am or 7 pm.
2. Thousands of students and squirrels are biding their time to run out in the street in front your car in a last ditch attempt to cross the road.
3. You run the risk of being distracted by the site of a homeless man pooping on the side of the road (true story(s)).
This is probably NOT what Eleanor Roosevelt was referencing when she spoke this Pinterest- worthy quote into being. I imagine she meant something along the lines of ‘stretch yourself! live your dreams! quit being a coward and take a risk and go get that grand life you’ve been dreaming about,’ not ‘keep your eyes on the road, that bare bottomed poop spectacle is not worth totaling your car.’
I have been thinking a lot about fear recently and how many subtle forms fear takes in my life- insecurity, anxiety, comfort seeking, and just flat out not wanting to do things because I am afraid of failing at them. It is often the driving force of my day, without me even realizing it.
As a Christian, I know I can turn to the Lord and confess my fearfulness. I believe that the Lord gives me strength to do hard things, and grace to overcome difficult and anxiety producing situations. I know he walks with me through the valley of the shadow of death, that he has not forgotten me.
And yet, I am afraid. Of pretty much everything. Scared to move forward. Scared to stay put. Scared to take risks. Scared of not taking risks and missing out on something great.
On my recent trip to New Zealand (I do not say this casually, it was one of the coolest experiences of my life), I had the chance to go to a glow worm cave.
What is a glow worm cave, you ask? What a great question. I didn’t. I figured: glow worms + cave? Sounds good, that’s all I need to know!
It wasn’t all I needed to know.
We showed up at the caves around 7 am, and were immediately ‘fitted for’ (squeezed into) wet suits, wet socks, wet boots, and some kind of wet jacket. This was around the time I realized we were actually getting into the water…and that there would be water in the cave. The wet suits were, well, wet. And stinky. And hard to put on. And cold. We were then fitted with helmets and a special headlamp, then finally deemed fit for adventure.
My husband’s stepfather said it best as we were standing around waiting to get on the bus that would take us down to the cave site: “I’m not sure I fully glean what is about to happen.” You and me both buddy!
Let me back up and say that I am not in the least bit athletic, don’t take direction very well, am extremely sensitive to cold (I have bad circulation and my fingers will go partially numb for hours at at a time after being exposed to cold), and not particularly adventurous. But, I was with four men and not about to back down from this once in a lifetime experience on account of fear and general wimpery. I was doing this thing.
We trekked down to a stream and told to pick out an inner tube that just perfectly fit our backside. This lead to an inner tube fashion show, in which we wedged our bottoms into the tubes, then asked the people around us if we looked good. We did. We were then asked to jump backwards off the dock about 8 feet down into the water, to practice for when we were in the cave. This seemed slightly suspicious and unsafe, but considering that we were already suited up, we did it. Hitting the water was like sticking your bottom into a tub of ice water. We were then told this was the warm water — the cave water would be much colder. Good, good.
This story was corroborated once inside the cave. The water was FREEZING. Our footing was unsure. It was very dark. We kept being asked to jump backwards off of little ledges into pools of cold water that would splash up into your face and go down the sleeves of your wetsuit, chilling you all the way down to your armpits. Yes, my arm pits were cold.
*Note my schmeared mascara face. I clearly had no clue what I was getting myself into when I got ready that morning. When I asked Will later why he didn’t say anything to me about this, he said “You looked so cute with your mascara all over the place and your too-big helmet bobbing all around. I just couldn’t.” For understanding, see: differences between men and women.
Cold aside, the cave.was.awesome. Unbelievably awesome. These glow worms are unreal- like a full blanket of stars in the night sky but five feet away from you, and you know, worms. Our little tour group of 11 people from all around the world felt like a closet knit group of friends by the end, even though I couldn’t tell you any of their names. There is something about doing a terrible wonderful thing all together that is magic for the collective human experience.
Cave friends forever!
When we got back to the hotel that night, my husband had a rash from his wetsuit that lasted about a week and I smelled like a smell I hope to never smell ever again. #noregrets #thosewetsuitsaredirty
Stay with me for a second here while I go on an extended metaphor journey connecting this whole thing-I wonder how much fear holds me back from the many glow-worm-cave-like opportunities in my life. How many terrible wonderful things I am choosing not to do because I don’t want to be uncomfortable or tested or not in control. There is a whole wide world out there at my fingertips, and so often I choose to close my hands and wait until I am sure everything is steady. I shut doors and refuse to wait, citing practicality. I avoid risk and hard situations, all in the name of self-care and protection. This is not trusting the Lord- and it’s certainly not living out the fullness of my potential as a child of God. I desire to be bold in my faith, in my giving, and in my work. I am not stuck unless I tell myself I am. I am not afraid unless I allow myself to be.
I love this verse in particular:
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
2 Timothy 1:7
Amen to that!
Also, of all God’s creations, I’ve got say that New Zealand ranks pretty high up there. If it’s not on your bucket list, you need to add it, stat. And don’t forget to add the glow worm cave right after.