My five-year-old had just learned to ride a bike. I never knew my paranoia of her getting hurt would turn into such a big reality check for me.
Riding a bike sure mirrors the life lessons of taking risks and facing fear. We teach our children to take off the training wheels and eventually release them to balance life on their own.
We run with them until the last possible moment, knowing they may fall, hoping they’ll be able to get right back up and try again. And sometimes we want to hold onto them a little too long.
I’m not very good at watching my kids take risks.
On our family vacation, we decided to venture out on her first solo family bike ride on a Tahoe trail. My daughter was wobbly and unstable.
Before the bike ride started, fear consumed my thoughts. What if she can’t stop her bike down a hill? What if those back breaks aren’t strong enough? What if a car hits her while we cross the busy street?
As my mind visualized her crashing, I prayed over and over, “Lord, please keep her safe!” I followed close behind trying to guide her with my anxious mommy-coaching.
And then it happened. Her handlebars swiveled and she lost control and did the superman off of her bike. In a rush of panic, I swerved to avoid hitting her and slammed on my breaks.
The next thing I knew, I was flipping over my bike, my entire body in midair, crashing backward onto the graveled pavement.
I couldn’t get up; intense pain radiated in my elbow. My daughter and I were crying as we lie on the graveled pavement. Thank God, she was ok and only suffered road rash on her tummy.
I, on the other hand, would endure surgery the day before Easter for a shattered elbow involving pins and plates in my bone, 21 staples and months of physical therapy.
I reviewed that day in my mind many times. Deep inside I knew fear played a role in my accident and was actually the main character in my life. I think this was the first time I truly recognized it.
A year later, our family was back in Tahoe on Spring break and everyone wanted to go on a bike ride. Everyone, but me.
Those same fearful thoughts came back. What if I fall? What if I break my only good elbow?
I went on a morning jog to sort out my thoughts and breathed in the smell of fresh pine needles and listened to the praise music
of Kim Walker-Smith of Jesus Culture.
“He loves us… Oh how He loves us…” over and over, the words repeated.
And I realized that I needed to hear them over and over because deep down I didn’t really believe them. But God was telling me He loved me! Over and over again!
The words penetrated my heart so deeply until my sobs suddenly burst through all the hidden places I stuffed them.
I ran up the hill—breathing in God’s love for me and breathing out all my fears and doubts—the hill that so many times mirrored my journey as I struggled to run the race of life and make sense of all its sorrow and the fear I held inside of me.
The root of my fear was doubting God’s love and care for me.
I told God how tired I was of being afraid. Afraid of something bad happening, afraid of doing the wrong thing, afraid of what people think, afraid to just be me.
And yes—afraid of falling off my bike.
And in the midst of my surrendering and tears, words seemed to enter my thoughts that weren’t my own.
Get back on your bike. Go on that bike ride.
I questioned them.
Lord is that you speaking to me? Or are those my own thoughts? How do I know it’s really you?
You will never know if you don’t obey.
Again words that suddenly came to my mind out of nowhere.
And then I knew it was true.
Obeying meant trusting Him.
How would I know whether the promptings were from Him if I didn’t obey? I wouldn’t.
I was at a crossroads. And I decided on that day to choose faith over fear.
To choose courage over weakness.
Confidence over insecurity.
Action over avoidance.
And I got back on my bike. And I didn’t fall.
I believe the first step we need to take in handing our fear over to the Lord is recognizing its hold on us. We may not see patterns of behavior that have become habitual ways to avoid fear. We may not recognize the depth of our issues.
But God can help us discover those areas. And he may reveal other areas of fear as well.
He did for me.
Over the last few years, I’ve been trading in my insecurity, my fear of driving on freeways, my fear of taking risks, my fear of setting boundaries in relationships and my fear of what people think.
I’ve been getting back up on that bike and discovering how great it feels to trust in God and let go of my own perceived sense of control!
I’ve included a free printable where you can answer some questions that will help you recognize some areas of fear in your life. During this series, I’ll be offering several free resources to help you on your journey.
After we recognize the ways fear has affected our lives we need to be willing to change. You have to make a choice. Decide ahead of time. I know, it’s not easy. It’s hard.
I believe you have to get to the point where you really want to make changes. It’s a determined choice followed by gradual steps of progress that are difficult but necessary.
But you don’t go alone! We’re in this together,
and God is always right by your side.
If you are a subscriber you can go to this link and enter the password in the last email I sent you. You’ll have access to the most recent printables in one place.
I also am having a few giveaways of some items that really helped me have courage in the face of fear.
Here are some questions to help you recognize areas of fear.
I made a free printable with the questions below.
What are you afraid of? Why?
How has fear changed you?
How has fear interfered with your life?
How has it impacted your family?
What have you avoided in order to protect yourself from fear?
Are you willing to take small steps in order to face fear?
Why do you want to make changes?
Dear Father, I come before your presence and ask that you show me areas in my life where I may be holding back due to fear. Show me where I need to take risks and have the courage to make changes in my life. Reveal to me areas where I try to control my surroundings in order to prevent uncomfortable feelings or something bad happening. Help me trust in your sovereignty over my life. Today I choose to trade my fear for faith. Thank you for leading me on the pathway of freedom! Amen.
Will you do me a favor? I think establishing a community is so important in order to choose faith over fear. Will you share in the comments below what God is leading you to do? Take the time to encourage someone by leaving them a reply as well.