Anyone who knows my daughter now as a young adult would find it difficult to believe that she was a very shy, scared of everything young child. As a toddler, I often had to pry her off of my leg in public and she was pretty picky about who her caregivers could be. Trying new things was not something she got excited about and we spent a lot of her early years talking her into new adventures.
One of my favorite memories is a time when she was about four years old and we were swimming at a public pool in our hometown. She had an older brother who was much more daring than she at the time and he and his friends had spent a lot of the day jumping off of the diving board at the pool. Both of my kids had been through swimming lessons and loved the water from an early age, but she was just not too sure about that big jump and long swim to the side of the pool. I can still see the line forming behind the board as she walked to the end and then back down only to climb the short ladder and make the walk to the end again. I recall her taking that walk a dozen times before she mustered up the courage to take the leap of faith. I stood on the side of the pool ready to grab her once she swam over to me. Her brother, her friends and I were all cheering her on and many of the onlookers at the pool had joined our squad to help us coax her along. When she finally made the jump, applause erupted and I remember tears filling my eyes as I saw her bright face come up out of the water so incredibly proud of what she had done. If you’re thinking she probably went right back to the line to do it again, you’re exactly right. She probably jumped off the board fifty times that day.
A second fond memory occurred when we were on our one and only Disney trip. Now I know many of you LOVE a Disney vacation, but I’m in the camp of folks who do not feel that walking 20,000 steps (not an exaggeration, I have data!) in massive crowds of people in hundred degree temps can really be called a vacation. We named our trip the “Survivor” vacation……because I felt like we certainly had to outwit, outplay and outlast everyone else to survive that trip.
In spite of my exhaustion, there were lots of things I did love about Disney. By far, my favorite was the Aerosmith “Rock N Roll” roller coaster. After each riding it separately, Mark and I really wanted the kids to ride with us and knew that they would love it as much as we did. But, we knew with Marklee, it was going to take some convincing. We made a big mistake a few days earlier when for our very first ride we chose a coaster in Animal Kingdom that was called “Dinosaur”. Mark and I had no idea when the four of us boarded that it featured fire breathing, load roaring, ginormous animals, which resulted in Marklee hiding her face in my chest and crying uncontrollably by the end of the ride. It also ended her roller coaster riding enthusiasm for the rest of our week. But we knew she’d love this one and proceeded to convince her to get in line with us.
During the hour long start and stop line to the door, she protested then agreed only to soon protest again. Up until the moment it was our turn, we really weren’t sure at all that she would actually step foot on it, so we sweetened the deal by offering her $20 to spend at the gift shop if she did it. I am aware that it wasn’t our finest parenting moment to bribe her, but the reality was we both wanted to ride too and we couldn’t leave our five-year-old daughter standing alone outside of the attraction. The bribery worked and she hesitantly climbed in to the car holding my hand so tightly the circulation was cut off. But just as in conquering her diving board fear, she had the time of her life once she had the faith to join us. To this day, that child loves riding roller coasters more than most people I know. The bigger, the better.
I feel like my faith is a lot like that of my young daughter in those memories. I know that my Heavenly Father who loves me more than anyone is calling me to try something new He knows I will love, but because I can’t see the outcome or I’ve never done anything like it before, I slip out of the line to find safe, familiar ground again. With Marklee, we knew once she found the courage and trusted us that she would never look back and she would find so much joy and pleasure in those things we were asking her to do, but the fear of the unknown almost kept her from trying at all. I do that a lot too….even though I know deep in my heart that my Heavenly Father only wants my life to be full of joy and to be abundant. I wonder how many blessings I’ve missed out on along the way because I was just too scared to trust Him.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”
1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT
In my prayer life these days, I’m trying to be faithful and asking God to just help me take one step at a time with him. I’m committing to trust Him and to walk through doors in His time as He opens them, even the ones that seem super scary. He has already blessed me with so many new people and ideas and opportunities in such a short time and I am greatly anticipating the high jumps and the roller coaster rides He has planned for my life.
As I think back to the songs of Aerosmith blaring in my ear on that incredibly fast, full of twists and turns ride, the lyric that I can still hear in my head is certainly fitting for how I’m feeling about my walk with God these days. Although blind faith is terrifying, I am learning to trust Him wholeheartedly and at least for today, ”I don’t want to miss a thing”.