New Hampshire Summers
Growing up in New Hampshire meant spending a lot of time in the woods. I spent summer days wandering in the back yard, poking sticks into the ground and watching the stream move slowly along, with nothing but time to get the water to its destination.
Some days I would build tiny houses out of rocks and pine needles, creating a village for my miniature smurfs to live in, or whittling sticks with my pocket knife. (Read: the dull knife my mom let me use that was as sharp as a pair of round-tip scissors)
Another favorite way to pass a lazy day was to pick mica off of rocks and tilt it this way and that in the sunshine, watching the rainbow of colors dance in the light. I thought mica was so beautiful that I kept a small collection of it, in my teal purse with pink hearts all over it, just so I could play with it on sunny days.
This was what growing up in New Hampshire was all about; exploring, nature, wonder. But the one thing that I DID. NOT. DO. EVER…was climb a tree.
Now, if you read my post titled Reading the Signs In Front Of You, you are fully aware that sports were not my gift as a child. So, it should come as no surprise that climbing trees was also out of the question.
There were three reasons for my firm resolve around tree climbing.
- I was afraid of heights.
- I have two left feet, (thanks to awkward positioning during the nine months my mom carried me) and literally tripped over them on even ground.
- I was terrified that the branches would not hold me and ultimately send me crashing to the ground.
As a quick aside, this is something I experienced on the monkey bars in 1st grade; I was doing somersaults on the playground and I imagined that I was flying and then I was…straight to the ground below.
My busted lip healed faster than my nerves, which put tree climbing even further into the absolutely not category.
Life Score: Fear 1 Jen 0
The Impact of My Fear
Fear is something that has always plagued me. People who know me find this odd. I am usually the one who charges forward and wades through the muck of big challenges, just as I slogged through it in the New Hampshire woods during mud season.
Yet fear has held me back more than I would ever like to admit. As a child, I could say that I didn’t like to do something, which was a plausible reason for not going roller skating, playing soccer or climbing trees. However, as I got older it was more difficult to say no when the adventures were things I really wanted to experience. I became a bit like Ben Stiller’s character Reuben, in Along Came Polly; calculating risks and playing it safe.
As a result, I missed a lot of opportunities and a lot of living. I sat to the side, smiling while friends experienced all kinds of stuff.
I missed mountain top views and the rush that comes with conquering a challenge.
When Faith Is Strong Than Fear
Only in recent years, have I been able to keep my faith over my fear and that is in large part due to my relationship with God. One of my favorite authors, Emily P. Freeman, writes in her book, The Next Right Thing, that if we decide to say no to an opportunity, we should make sure fear isn’t the reason for the choice.
She is absolutely right.
FEAR is a lousy reason to say no to a risky but exciting opportunity.
An opportunity to live life outside of our comfort zone.
But, I could not let go of my fear. Sitting on the sidelines was safer. Yet, that is not what God had in mind for me, or for any of us, when he created us and gave us life.
Jesus asks us to go forward, to push through the fear and to have faith in Our Father, who knows just how to love and support us when we freeze. He knows how to love and support us when fear takes a life of its own within us and dulls the light of the Holy Spirit living in our soul.
It was not until my relationship with God became secure that I understood Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged.”
When I was finally secure and understood this verse, THEN I could let my faith be bigger than my fear.
Now, faith is a word I hang on to each and every day; the difficult ones and those that radiate with sunshine and glory.
God Is My Belayer
In fact, the journal that I carry with me, the one that holds the notes, my heart and ideas for my book, is navy blue linen and has the word faith written in gold letters on the front. This is intentional.
You see, I am so afraid of writing, both here and for my book, that I simply have to keep faith close by.
I have to look at it.
I have to remember it.
And I have to clutch it in my hand.
Even though I am writing because the calling is too strong to ignore. What if the world doesn’t much care?
What if my work won’t matter?
What if I fall down?
This is something we will explore next week, but for now, I will simply say that faith is my belay. It is fundamental when going out on a limb such as this one. As I crawl out onto the boughs of this vulnerable and creative tree, I am afraid that the higher I go, the thinner the boughs will become.
The greater the risk that they will snap. Maybe they won’t hold. Maybe I will crash to the ground and bust open more than my lip.
Yet my faith keeps me climbing, trusting that the trunk will support those limbs that in turn support me. God is that trunk, my belayer, and the Holy Spirit is what strengthens those limbs. Those limbs, where the risks live, are mine to navigate and with the Holy Spirit within, I can reinforce even the most delicate ones. So, I am going to climb up and out, up and out, until I reach the furthest height where creation’s beautiful view comes into focus and I can watch the sun play, creating rainbows bigger than my mica could ever hold.
I hope that you too will tuck you fear behind your faith and let God, or whatever the spiritual force in your life may be, give you the strength to climb your own tree, to scooch out onto your own branches and watch the view get bigger and brighter than you ever dreamed it could be.
What are you afraid of? I clutch my journal in my hand…what do you hold in your hand?
I’d love to chat in the comments.
No longer missing the mountaintop views!