MY CHEST WOULD TIGHTEN, MY BREATH WOULD QUICKEN, MY STOMACH WOULD START TO HURT. JUST THE THOUGHT OF ROLLER COASTERS WOULD MAKE ME PHYSICALLY ANXIOUS.
It was a completely irrational fear because I love adrenaline and adventure. My dominant Mission Style is 'let me experience' and Escape & Pray massively shaped my faith. The root of my anxiety around roller coasters was quite serious though, at the root was a fear of not being in control, of not being safe, of the unknown.
I was determined to overcome these fears, to do something I couldn’t before I knew Jesus, to go somewhere my fear had stopped me.
So, I went to Thorpe Park.
Waiting for the first rollercoaster fear rose, I'd made the wrong decision. I didn't want to do this. I was annoyed because God was meant to take my fear away before I went on the ride, right? If He wanted to free me He would have already, right?
We stepped into first position in the queue, and watched the group in front disappear at super speed. I looked behind and assessed if I could leg it.
I can't do this
One of my friends responded:
Courage isn't the absence of fear, but knowing you're scared and choosing to do it anyway
Those words made my heart twinge, I had to take a step to say yes to God and shout no to fear. So one shaky step after another I sat down on the seat, feeling anything but bold or courageous. Feet dangling and heart pounding I reached up with clammy hands and pulled the seat restraint down. The ride lurched forward, my eyes tightly shut, we started to incline and I felt sick with fear. Clinging on to the ride for dear life, I cried no, no, no as we reached the top and catapulted over the edge. Round the first loop I felt as if my breath had been stolen, but round the second and third loop, I felt the slightest flash of enjoyment, a tiny glimmer of hope, a small crack in my fear.
The same thing happened ride after ride. I felt full of fear, made an active decision to walk through the fear and each time felt a little bit freer. When I got to rides I really didn’t want to go on, I knew they were the most important to conquer.
Waiting for the last ride I said:
I'm not scared
And I wasn't. Feet dangling, smiling, we spun upside down and I opened my eyes and lifted my hands. Lots of people do this on rides, but for me, it was a powerful prophetic moment of letting go and trusting God. The fear had completely evaporated and was replaced with a rush of joy, I felt the words of Psalm 34 echo
He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy.
My worst nightmare had become a source of joy. Because I know God, I don't need to fear not being in control because He is in control, I don't need to fear being unsafe because He keeps me safe and I don't need to fear the unknown because He has a plan for my life.
You might not need to go on roller coasters to walk through fear, but what shaky steps do you need to take to conquer fear in your life?
In a world that’s full of fear, how free can you get?
... Alton Towers anyone?