One year ago, I would not have stood on this bridge for a picture.
I have a terrible fear of heights. Staying alive is important to me. Heights set off an alert system that screams, “You’re about to die!” The problem is, this fear hinders me from adventures with my family.
I would tell you the story about the time I asked the ride operator at a theme park to stop and let me off the Paratrooper ride, but that would be really embarrassing.
Just last year, the very thought of driving across this bridge put me in such a state of fear, I tipped my seat back and practiced old-school Lamaze breathing until Russ promised we were on solid ground.
This fear frustrates me. I dread hikes with steep drops – it’s the edges that bother me. I want to do things Russ enjoys, like zip lining, but I fear complete panic or wetting my pants or both.
About a year ago, I began praying about this fear, and telling myself things like, “Trust the engineers who built this bridge.” I know my life is in God’s hands, but I need to trust the structure I stand on too.
The Deception Pass bridge in the picture is 180 ft. up, a quarter mile long, kind of narrow, and the railings don’t seem very high to me. But somebody designed and built it with confidence that it would hold.
Last Saturday, Samuel and I made the annual vacation Costco run taking us over Deception Pass to the mainland.
On the drive up the island, I told him I would try to keep my eyes open when we crossed the bridge. For some reason (answered prayers, perhaps) I not only kept my eyes open, I looked at the view. My legs felt quivery, but I was okay.
Many hours and many dollars later, as we prepared to cross back over to the island, I said, “You know, maybe I should try walking across the shorter bridge, or at least stand on one end for a moment.” Samuel smiled, saying, “Really? Okay!”
We parked and walked to the bridge. With nobody behind me, I could move at a pace that didn’t make me feel I might pass out. I grabbed the railing on one side, and the cable designed to keep pedestrians from falling into passing cars on the other. Then I walked, without looking down or pausing much. Samuel kept looking back to make sure I hadn’t frozen in place.
Each time I said, “Is there anyone behind me?” I could not be rushed or I would freak out. He assured me I was fine, so we walked on. When we got to the end of the shorter of the two bridges, I felt pretty proud of myself. I could turn back, and cross it again, or go forward to the longer span. In a strange burst of courage, we went forward.
There were moments when I thought my brain might switch in an instant from courageous to collapsed-in-a-heap, but I kept thinking how happy I was to be conquering this, and how proud Russ would be.
When I wasn’t sure I could keep going, Samuel told me I was halfway, so there was no point in turning back. A family approached from the other side, and I knew I would have to let go of one of the railings. I clung to the cable, preferring to be hit by a car than fall over the side. The adult son in the family also held to it, but as we got closer, he let go to let me pass.
I said, “I’m sorry. I’m slightly terrified,” and he replied, “I’m terrified too!” which made me feel better and even laugh for two seconds.
Just before we got to the end of the bridge, Samuel snapped this pic of me, proof I had done something my family would not believe without evidence. Russ exchanged texts with me telling me how proud he was and my family Snapchat group blew up with praise.
Just like walking across that bridge, being a mom has hard, scary moments requiring courage. On the bridge, keeping my eyes focused on Samuel and knowing I wasn’t alone, gave me the ability to go on. We don’t all have husbands or people walking closely with us as we parent our kids, but we do have a loving God. I know it’s cliche, but seriously, we need to keep our eyes on Him and stay close.
If you are a person of faith, “Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith….” Heb 12:2
If I had felt alone on that bridge, I wouldn’t have had the courage to move forward. I drew strength from Samuel’s confidence. God has complete confidence in me as a mom – and he has confidence in you. Of course, we mess up all the time, but he chose us for this task and these kids.
When we’re afraid to take another step forward over the churning waters, remember, He chose us. Frankly, at some point, it’s easier to go forward than turn back.
What are you afraid of? What do you fear as a mom?
with courage and hope, my friend,