The Slope of Fear
A couple of years ago, David and I travelled to Alaska over the Christmas holiday to spend some time with our daughter and her family. As a family we have always loved snowing skiing, so we decided we would ski the Alaskan slopes!
It was beautiful and breath taking. It was definitely a family vacation we will all remember. We had the pleasure of watching our baby grands learn to ski and our son-in-law learn the art of snow boarding.
And as always…there were lessons to be learned. I wrote this piece shortly after we returned and thought I would share it with you now. We are on the backside of 2017 and with any new year there are endless opportunities ahead, but some of us will head into 2018 gripped by fear of the unknown. My hope is this story calls out your fear, so you can begin to trust the Father that knows your future.
As I ride up the mountain on the ski lift, I look over to my right and see the smiling faces of my family: husband, David; granddaughter, Laila; and daughter, Jaci. They are looking around at the view, pointing out downed skiers, and genuinely enjoying their time together. It brings a warmth to my heart and a smile across my face.
We have taken rides like this on countless occasions together, minus Laila; she’s only 5. Just enjoying the sway of motion, brisk breeze, slight bite of the cold, and simple, uncomplicated conversation. Along with a few bursts of laughter as we watch skiers below roll in the snow!
Soon our attention is focused on the upcoming departure point. Jaci begins giving Laila instructions on how to get off the lift. Her instructions are simple, straightforward and uttered with all the confidence needed for a successful landing.
I listen, nod in agreement and then begin to panic. Thoughts start racing through my head. “She’s never done this before!” “She’s so little; I’m not sure this is a good idea.” “What if she falls and the lift hits her in the head.” “Will she be able to ski out of the way of the other skiers.” “What if someone runs over her?”
Without putting sound to my voice, I look over at my daughter. I’m sure there was fear oozing out of my eyeballs. She just smiles, holds Laila’s little hand and off they go. My head was still reeling with fear and I too clumsily dismount, almost taking David out.
With that done I begin to breath a little easier. We all meet at the top of the run. Jaci again begins to give Laila instructions on what we are about to do. She explains she will always be in front, stopping periodically so that she knows what direction to go. She reassures her she knows how to do everything she needs to accomplish this task.
After that brief counseling session I turn to face the slope below me and once again I am swallowed by fear. Thoughts are crashing against the sides of my brain so hard I’m not sure I can stay upright. “Wow, this looks really steep!” “People are going way to fast for someone this little.” “Is she going to be able to stop!” “Are we sure she is going to be able to turn and stay on the trail?”
This time when I look over at Jaci, David too has fear oozing out of his eyeballs. It was in that instant that fear took over and we lost all since of sanity.
Jaci heads down the slope a short distance, I muster all the courage I can, turn and ski up alongside her. Jaci calls out for Laila and with simple, childlike faith she turns and heads towards her mom. Everything was going good until she fell. She couldn’t get up and discouragement set in. You could see in her eyes that her confidence was wavering.
David skied to her, helped her up and then decided she was too little to do it alone. You could almost visibly see his fear wrap around them both. He wouldn’t let go of her and let her try again. As his fear took over her confidence wained. She began to accept defeat because of his fear.
After much coaxing, from Jaci, David finally let her go. Jaci just kept encouraging her to try it. Reminding her she had the ability to do it on her own. Reassuring her she was there if Laila needed anything. Once she reached her mom she sighed a huge sigh of relief. With a little more confidence and trust in herself she conquered the slope! And so did David and I!
As I re-play all of this in my mind I had to ask myself if I had ever let my fear keep someone from finding their success. Had I ever been so afraid something bad might happen that I stifled their confidence and made them question their own abilities.
Since fear is crippling, a fearful life
-fear of death, fear of judgment-
is one not yet fully formed in love.
(1 John 4:18 The Message)
Fear has the ability to cripple us? Absolutely! I witnessed it on the side of that mountain. It also has the ability to blind. It can become so real in your life that you can not clearly see the Truth anymore. It can also disable your trust.
The fear of human opinion disables;
trusting in God protects you from that.
That is why it is so important for us to not let it take up residence. We must recognize when it tries to attach and throw it off. Because even if they fall…He will be there to catch them.
He ordered his angels
to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they’ll catch you;
their job is to keep you from falling.
(Psalm 91:11-12 The Message)
Sometimes we need to let them fall so they can build their confidence and trust that Father will be there.
Laila will soon be 7 and she doesn’t remember the fear in that day at all. Every time we visit she asks when we’re going to hit the slopes again! I love that…it’s proof that when you face fear, recognize it, call it out and push through it, it has no power over you!