[Note: PLEASE click the links in this post so you can see how awesome these coasters are!]
This is a story about fear. It's also a story about no fear. But most of all, this is a story about God.
It seems superficial to talk about this in terms of roller coasters, but when coasters represent everything about life that terrifies me, they become a symbol of all I've overcome.
Before last year, I'd ridden exactly 1 coaster. And not by choice. That had been enough for me for the rest of my life, thank you very much.
My family and I love Universal Studios. But my first time at Universal, my palms would sweat before every ride 'cause I was afraid there would be coaster elements. It wasn’t true for most of them, but what did I know.
These Are a Few of My Most-Feared Things
A lot of things happened between that first time at Universal and now to bring me face-to-face with human mortality. And over the past couple years, God has been teaching me about fear—and trust. And I have had a lot to overcome. My fears have included the following:
Getting blood drawn
Swallowing certain food
Certain types of driving (these last two anxieties join forces to make me unable to drink water while driving on the highway—and often unable to swallow my own saliva, for fear of choking, which makes for a pretty anxiety-inducing road trip)
Various physical ailments I assume are a lot worse than they are
Fear of my sister having a terrible fall or dying
God has delivered me from a few of these before now—for ex, I've been able to go into a hospital or get blood drawn without feeling faint for probably ten years now. And I rejoice about that every time I do it!
But this year I received a diagnosis that showed I still had a ways to go in trusting God. I spent time in prayer, and I realized that I can say I wanna trust God until I’m blue in the face, but my heart won’t change until I step out in faith and actually do some scary stuff, trusting God will have my back and all will be OK. So I went on a journey to take some faith steps.
Here’s Where the Coasters Come Back In
With a little help from a practical book called Panic Free, I decided to take some faith steps and tackle some coasters, building skills to avoid a panic response.
The good news is that it kinda worked. The good news is also that it kinda didn’t.
I went to Universal and stood in line for the tamest coaster I could find—Revenge of the Mummy. Taking the faith step got me on the coaster. My new practical skills did give me periods of calm while waiting in line, but it was definitely not as easy as I’d hoped. My first ride was scary, but also exhilarating, and faith steps got me on that coaster twice more in the space of one day. I was getting somewhere.
Months later, I returned to Universal with my whole family, determined to try out the coasters my sister and husband had enjoyed while I had watched from the ground. When we got up to the platform for Velocicoaster, I tiptoed into the row and just stood there. I turned on the spot like a dog chasing its tale, my flight response in full gear. I almost walked right off the other side. But I was committed to these faith steps, and I allowed myself to be locked in. One does not know what feeling trapped feels like until one is literally trapped. And was I ever trapped.
When the coaster sped up to launch us into the 155-foot top hat, I was ready to fall to my death.
Instead, I was on top of the world.
I got off the ride and cried. Life could be so amazing, and I never knew it.
I hadn’t realized how much of a weight the fear had been until it fell from my shoulders. I was suddenly so free. But I wasn’t done. Because Universal has more coasters.
I got on all of them. Even Rip-Ride Rocket. Then, a month ago, I got on every coaster I had time for at Hersheypark, including Skyrush. (Those coasters are no joke!) Each time, my heart fluttered in my chest, my palms sweated, and I wanted to walk off until the moment they pulled the restraints down. But I never once regretted those coasters.
But remember, as much as this is a true story, it’s also symbolic of something.
Two days ago, I boarded my first solo flight. Lately, I'd been so anxious flying that I couldn't eat or drink on the flight. But this time, despite this being my first time flying alone, when I asked for a frosty ginger ale, I could finally partake in the only thing that had historically made flying enjoyable for me. I finished the entire can.
Yesterday, I went back to Universal and boarded coasters without a single flicker of a flight response. I even chain-rode Velocicoaster and Hagrid's Motorbike Adventure. It was exhilarating.
Today, I flew home and almost fell asleep on the flight.
Last summer, I was diagnosed with endometriosis. I didn’t know at first what was going on with me, and fear of the big C word kept me up one night with my nose buried in the Psalms. Even though I discovered it wasn’t cancer, the fact that the lesions could grow into something cancerous made me worry.
So I came to God. I didn’t ask God to take away the lesions. I just asked to not be afraid. I'm gonna die some day anyway, so it seemed like the better thing to ask for.
Then, one day, a thought entered my head out of absolutely nowhere. What if God decided to miraculously heal me of this?
But people with endometriosis don't get better. They just avoid getting worse. The thought of God's healing me was absurd.
Then, another thought bumped into the previous thought. It was a little voice instructing me to go tell my husband that I'd been healed.
—You gotta understand, I have the same doubts as everybody else when it comes to God—I tend to be a logical thinker—so I'm not tryna put him to the test like that just so he can let me down and I'll be embarrassed about being so confident. I don't go decreeing and declarin' nothin'.
But Y'ALL. Something had changed in me that made me begin to trust God so much that my logical mind was completely silent about this. I had no hesitation; I trundled down to the living room, sat my husband down, and told him I was healed of endometriosis. It was a completely stupid thing for me to say, but I believed it, and I said it.
Then I said it again; I told a close friend. Then I told someone else.
Do you know I ain't had a single symptom since that day? I'd been suffering from cramps at all times of the month—sometimes so bad that I couldn't stand or couldn't sleep—for over a year. Suddenly, no more weird cramps—for months. To this day.
Do you know what that means? That means my faith and my trust in God has increased. That means that when I get normal cramps now, they don't scare me like they used to. No elevated heart rate, no light-headedness or fear of fainting. I am no longer afraid!
And that means God answered my prayer, y'all! And what's really cool is this: I don't even care if I'm right. I could still have endometriosis, but I don't care. I will have told you that I'm healed only for it to manifest again or show up on the next ultrasound. But I don't care. Because all I care about is the truth that God healed me—of my fear! Which is exactly what I asked of him.
"14This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him." (1 John 5:14–15)
If you are walking in fear the way I have, let me tell you about my savior, Jesus.
God created me, knowing I was gonna be a total jerk. Then he sent his son, Jesus, to die for me. Jesus went to the cross because I'm a total jerk, knowing that I would continue to be a total jerk. But he also knew I might one day accept him as my savior, profess him as my Lord, and develop a close relationship with him (and somehow still manage to be a jerk, but maybe a little less jerky now).
A relationship with him is all Jesus has ever wanted of me. And in my profession of faith, I've received so much more than just the forgiveness of my jerkiness and evil actions: I received a friend, a father, a King, and husband. He protects me and takes care of me, and he's there to comfort me and give me wisdom whether I need it a little or need it a lot.
And everything he does for me, he wants to do for your too. Because he loves you too.
If I am becoming a better person, it's because Jesus makes me want to be, as a response to the love he's shown me. If you want to experience God's love first-hand and develop a relationship with him, I'd love to have a conversation with you about it. Message me anytime.