My life is but a weaving
Between the Lord and me;
I may not choose the colors–
He knows what they should be.
For He can view the pattern
Upon the upper side
While I can see it only
On this, the under side.
Sometimes He weaves in sorrow,
Which seems so strange to me;
But I will trust His judgment
And work on faithfully.
‘Tis He who fills the shuttle,
And He knows what is best;
So I shall weave in earnest,
And leave to Him the rest.
Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needed
In the Weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.
– as quoted by Corrie Ten Boom
I love good stories.
Some of my favorite past times include snuggling up with a well-worn novel or hiding behind a bowl of popcorn during a suspenseful (or Disney) movie. I love getting lost in a story… falling for the handsome stranger… holding my breath when the Villain appears…laughing at crazy antics…crying over loss. I love the twists and turns of a well-told story.
One thing I’ve noticed over time is that many great stories have a commonality. They each have a moment where the music changes (well if it’s a movie… although I always hear music in my head… that’s another story) and the plot thickens. It’s usually at this moment that I scoot up in my chair a bit…leaning in…expectant to see what comes next. It’s usually at this moment that the lead character is facing dire straights with little to no hope in sight. They suffer a crippling blow. They lose love. They’re all alone.
Being the avid reader/movie watcher that I am, I know that this means one thing. The story is about to get good. I have enough trust in the writers to believe that they won’t end the story there. There has to be a turning point on the horizon. There just has to be.
This belief is in stark contrast to my go-to response when these types of things happen in my own life. Things get a little tough and instead of leaning in to see what happens next, my natural tendency is to throw in the towel and crawl back into bed… utterly convinced that nothing good could ever, ever, ever happen to me. Sound familiar?
What would happen if we approached challenging situations in our own lives with the same anticipation that we award Hollywood movies or New York Times’ bestsellers? We are, after all, the heroines of our own story. A story penned by the ultimate author. An author who not only knows adventure, but is the author of all suspense; not only knows romance, but is the author of all love; not only knows happy endings, but has sacrificed it all for happily ever after.
So what if in the moments when the past is gone and the future seems a blur; when you can’t see which way to go; when all seems lost, what if in those moments we each scooted up just a bit in our seats, leaned in and said…
This is when it gets good.
I love to travel. I love seeing new places. Experiencing new cultures. Meeting new people. Learning new languages. I love nice hotels (hello! some of them have pillow menus… who knew such a wonder existed?).
There is, however, one thing about travel that I do not love.
I do not love to fly.
As much as I try to get lost in the beauty of billowing white clouds and bright blue skies, I often find myself on the verge of panic as the plane launches off the ground. Fear of hurtling towards the earth plaguing my thoughts as the overwhelming sense of helplessness invades my mind. Let me tell you, it is not pretty. Take off usually includes me white-knuckling the arm rest or the hand of the unsuspecting person sitting next to me who “won” the seat selection lottery.
So… this poses a rather large problem for me.
My dreams include travel for all the reasons I listed above and many, many others. On top of that my job requires that I travel several times a year (an opportunity that I usually jump at, until I’m sitting in the aforementioned airplane seat holding hands with a stranger).
What’s a girl to do?
I decided a year or so ago that I was not going to allow this fear to control me or make me miss out on a rather large part of my purpose and destiny. I wish I could say that it was as simple as that, but it’s not. That being said, there are a couple of things that I’ve learned that are helping me overcome:
1. DECIDE – I know I just said it’s not as simple as a decision, but it has to start with one. You have to DECIDE that what is on the other side of your fear is worth the discomfort of facing it in the here and now.
2. FIND THE TRUTH – Fear is a notorious liar. I once heard it described as a drunk uncle (which inevitably makes me thing of the SNL skit). It takes truth and twists it. It wildly distorts reality and makes you lose sight of the horizon. You have to find the truth. For me, this means reminding myself of how many flights take off and land on a daily basis around the world without incident. On top of that, I remind myself that the purpose of my life exists beyond that one short flight.
3. GET SOME TOOLS – Like I mentioned above, fear can make you question which way is up. You’ve got to find your bottom line. What is unshakeable? I have found scripture verses that I will often repeat to myself in those moments where I find myself succumbing to panic. Here’s a few of my favorites…
“God has not give me (make it personal!) a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind” 2 Tim. 1:7 (The crazies aren’t from God!)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jer. 29:11 (Thank the Lord he has a plan for me on the other side of whatever I might be facing)
“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Is. 26:3 (I’d like to sign up for perfect peace please)
4. IMAGINE THE BEST – Don’t waste your time meditating on the what-if. I heard it said recently that worry is a waste of your imagination. Use your God-given imagination to focus on all the wonderful possibilities that might await you. Instead of envisioning worst-case scenarios, start thinking about best case scenarios. What if I get seated next to Ricky Martin? Hello?!?! I’ll hold your hand thank you very much.
5. GO FOR IT – Sometimes you’ve just got to put on your big girl panties and do it anyways. Take a chance. Risk more. Jump. Yes, you might still feel fearful, but you know what, the more you ignore that voice and go for it, the quieter that voice will become. You decide. Fear does not get to win.
At the end of the day, your future, your dreams, and your personalized pillow menu matter so much more. Don’t miss out because you feel fearful.
You’re worth fighting for!
Each of us has a story. It is a story laced with adventure, heartache, romance, mystery, joy and pain. A story that is all our own. We were each uniquely designed to be the heroine (or hero) of our own epic adventure.
Boldly pushing forward into the great unknown.
Bravely taking the risk to reap the reward.
Drawn by a passion for something greater than the hum drum of mere existence.
The problem is that the adventure rarely happens in our comfort zone and heroines are rarely born in the midst of easy circumstances. The stories we love to read about or watch on the big screen always have the dramatic twists and turns. They always have the moments where it seems like all hope is lost. The moments where it seems like the only option is to give up. We cheer when the fictional characters rise above their seemingly insurmountable odds. Yet, when faced with the same plot twists in our own lives, we often find ourselves huddled under the covers instead of rising to the challenge.
Why is that?
I wish I had an easy answer to that question. I only know that in my own experience I often times lose the will to fight and live out my own story when I do one of the following things:
1. Compare – one of the biggest traps along the way is that of comparison. You were never intended to live someone else’s story. We trip and stumble along our own path when we try to imitate the plot twists that were written for someone else. Stay on your path. That’s where it gets good.
2. Devalue – this goes hand in hand with the comparison trap. As our adventure unfolds we can often lose sight of our role in the story. When you devalue who you are and what you have to offer, you cast yourself as a supporting character in the story of your own life, instead of the lead character. Don’t do it. You have what it takes. You are the beauty. The heroine.
3. Lose Sight – My footing often becomes shaky when I lose sight of the one who started me on this journey. I lose vision for my story when I lose sight of the author of my story. How quickly the wonder of life dissipates when my eyes start to focus solely on the road right in front of me instead of the grandiose view that God has painted all around me. When I doubt His love and His goodness I lose my strength and all excitement for the adventure fades.
The truth is that in order for the story to be amazing there has to be twists and turns. Your road will not always be sunny. It may not always be exciting. Even the best books have creases on the page. Moments where you wonder what will come next. Moments when things don’t make sense.
The key is learning to trust God in those moments and learning to see the beauty in every chapter of the story… even the messy ones.
I’ll never forget the vacation my family took to Bass Lake in Ontario, Canada when I was a little girl. It was idyllic. We stayed in a log cabin. We roasted s’mores over a campfire. We went fishing because my Dad wanted to catch bass. Instead, he caught a clam and my mom caught all the fish. Oh and I caught some fish too!
Don’t let my face fool you, I was having the time of my life.
The thing I remember the most though was that the lake had a rather large dock. Actually, it was a huge dock. My dad says it was about 30 feet tall. Since everything seemed big to me then, I’m going to take his word for it. I just remember it had 3 levels on it and I would sit and watch as the big kids ran up it, plunging into the ice-cold water as they cannon-balled off the top.
The problem was I was scared. While I’ve always loved to swim, the thought of jumping off from such a height was equally terrifying and mesmerizing. I finally mustered up the courage to climb up, not one, not two, but all three stories of the dock. As I peered over the edge, I knew I had never wanted anything so bad. The problem? I was frozen. Scared of what might happen. Finally, I called my mom over. (Isn’t that what every brave person does in their time of need? Call mom??) I told her in no uncertain terms that I was going off the dock, that I couldn’t move and that she had to push me.
It only took the one push and I was hooked. Climbing and jumping like all the “big kids”. The fear of the unknown quickly replaced with the sheer thrill of plunging feet first into the cold water.
That day has stuck with me as a reminder of the life lesson I learned that day. When you value what is on the other side of the risk, you have to take the jump. Even if you need a little prompting from your mom.
Life is full of risks. It’s risky to get out of bed in the morning (especially if your morning hair looks like mine). It’s risky to make new friends. It’s risky to love people. It’s risky to be vulnerable. It’s risky to let people in. It’s risky to dream. It’s risky to go after your dreams. It’s risky to believe you have what it takes. It’s risky to go for it.
Life is risky.
and….. what else is new.
I feel like I’ve been confronted by the need to take risks a lot recently. While there’s a huge part of me that wants to take the risk, there’s another part of me that screams that there are too many opportunities for hurt. Fear likes to creep in and say that your known hurt is always better than the unknown.
You know what, though, sometimes you just have to jump. Sometimes you have to take the plunge and trust that what God has on the other side is better than what you currently know.
So whatever it is today that’s keeping you stuck. Take the leap of faith. Ask God (or your mom) to give you a push if you need one. Enjoy the exhilarating feeling of knowing that your fear can’t keep you stuck. You can do it!
“She took a leap of faith and grew her wings on the way down.” – David Brinkley