I have always been deathly afraid of heights.
I didn’t like the mountains, I always avoided getting on ladders, and anything above the second floor of a hotel was not for me.
Anytime I’m up high, I feel like I’m going to fall down. I feel unstable and there’s a little pit in my stomach that is pulling me back to safer ground.
But when I got married, I learned that my husband loves roller coasters.
Pretty ironic, I’d say.
Roller coasters would definitely not be my thing. They’re up high. Really high. They’re fast. And they’re literally created to give you an adrenaline rush and a pit in your stomach. All of the things I have avoided since birth.
A couple weeks into our marriage, my husband decided to take me to Hershey Park.
To ride roller coasters.
I was terrified.
Especially when we arrived at the park and could see the coasters reaching high towards the blue sky. The park was filled with people laughing and screaming for joy.
My husband took me on one or two little coasters to start off. Not that bad. A little bit scary, but not to the point that I thought I would hyperventilate.
But finally, it was time for the big coasters.
The first big coaster we were going to ride was Skyrush. If you’ve been to Hershey Park, you know this is the fastest coaster in the park, reaching speeds of almost 75 mph. It is also high. Very, very high.
With a very, very high drop.
The moment the coaster reached the top of the first drop, I could already feel the pit growing in my stomach.
Immediately, I began to question all my life choices that led to this moment.
I was scared. I was overwhelmed. The sinking pit in my stomach was only growing bigger as the coaster tipped over the edge and started barreling downwards at terrifying speeds. I lost my breath and my stomach felt like a hundred butterflies were swirling around.
But then I started to laugh.
I started to scream. For joy. For fun.
I was having fun.
As soon as I embraced the fear and the pit in my stomach, I realized something. I enjoyed coasters.
There was something thrilling and wonderful about facing that fear and anxiety that was so deep in me, I’d carried it for years. And when I embraced the ride, I had fun.
So many times, life is like those coasters.
I’m familiar with that growing pit in my stomach when it comes to just about everything, not just Hershey Park. I’ve wrestled with that growing pit, that aging fear, for years. And for the first time I’m realizing, what if embracing it is the key to overcoming it?
I have realized over the last few years that our world is laced in anxiety. My world is laced in anxiety. I wrestle that stomach pit, that butterfly hatching zone, that overthinking fear, nearly every day of my life.
It’s so much easier to push down.
It’s so much easier to try to ignore it, because if I’m honest, it’s the worst feeling ever.
I don’t want to feel anxious. I don’t want to feel overwhelmed. I don’t want to feel stressed. I don’t want to feel fear.
So I avoid everything or anything that could cause those feelings. And in a lot of ways, I’ve missed out because of it. I’ve stayed on firm ground and waved while others got on the ride ahead of me. Because it’s safer on firm ground.
But what if life wasn’t meant to be lived on firm ground?
I am now a roller coaster fanatic. My husband and I go to Hershey Park as many weekends as we can to ride the fastest and tallest coasters around.
And sometimes it’s scary. But it’s also wonderful.
What are you scared of? What causes that pit in your stomach and the hair on your arms to stand up?
What if you embraced it?
What if you lived those moments in spite of the fear?
In Isaiah 41:10 God tells us, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you.” And in Isaiah 43:2, He continues by saying, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”
His promise has never been that the thing causing your fear will go away. His promise has never been that we won’t walk through the fire or that we won’t feel like we’re gonna drown sometimes.
His promise is that He’ll be right there. Sitting next to us.
He’ll be with us.
I made it onto Skyrush because my husband was sitting right next to me. And His love for me gave me the courage to face my greatest fear.
What if we let God’s amazing, overwhelming love for us do the same?
What if we got on the ride and realized that the One who promised to never leave or forsake us, was sitting right next to us?
So, what are you afraid of today? What is holding you back from all God has for you?
Get on the ride, sis.
You might find that at the top of the hill everything will be okay.
Bella Kauffman is a proud homeschool graduate and National Bible Bee alumna. She published her first book at 18 and is now the author of six devotionals for teens (published under her maiden name, Morganthal). Bella has been a writing coach and magazine editor, and she now serves as the youth pastor at The Good Shepherd Ministries in Maryland. She is the wife of Brad and a cat mom to Marley and Binx. Bella is passionate about leading others to Christ.