Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tell Fear Where to Go

Can't is always right beside me, eager to offer her opinion. She's a know-it-all, and her controlling thoughts are constantly ringing in my ears. She likes to remind me how I’ve failed in the past, or how I fall short compared to other competent, beautiful people. Although she is careful to sound as if she's protecting me, I've slowly come to realize that she's a liar. Her goal isn't to prevent me from failing, or keep me from making a fool of myself. Her goal is to keep me from ever trying. Unfortunately, there are plenty of times she succeeds in immobilizing me.
            Shouldn't is Can'ts twin, and she too is just as crafty, but her words are spoken much more softly. She isn't as bold as her sister, whose direct words are meant to remind me of my limitations. Instead, Shouldn't is worried that I might embarrass her. The last thing she wants is me doing something humiliating. She would rather I don't take any chances.
            These two oftentimes like to gang up together, one taking the more direct approach, while the other is much more subtle. While Can't pounds me with memories of my past failures, Shouldn't soothes and comforts by telling me it will be alright if I just don't do anything.
            Their father, Fear, is the true instigator behind their schemes, and he has trained his daughters well. He doesn't have to work very hard these days, because his daughters carry on the family business. But he's an intimidating and overbearing presence, and there are times when he has to step in. These times are the worst. He is a dark monster that hovers, weighing heavily upon my shoulders and exhausting me. He suffocates.
            However, Can't and Shouldn't have forgotten about one thing, Hope. Now I am no psychologist, and certainly no philosopher, but I have been long time friends with Can't and Shouldn't. Unfortunately, they know me too well. They know how to get to me.
            The other day I witnessed the strength of the human spirit and the power of Hope. My daughter ran 100 miles in under 24 hours, across mountain ridges, down valleys, and back up again. The people who run these ultra marathons are incredible, but really, they are just like you. Just like me. They have tenacity, hope and determination. Gifts that we, too, have been given but rarely use. They have overcome Can't and Shouldn'ts power. Unlike me, who too often gives them my ear. They have encountered Fear and won.
I followed these runners, in a car, from aid station to aid station and watched them struggle with these enemies and push themselves beyond. Many runners wandered for miles on trails, lost and alone. As darkness set in their family members became worried and motorcyclists were sent out to find them. Finally, the runner would come in, feeling discouraged, but not defeated. After some time at the aid station, they'd head out again donning high powered head lamps. You could see their lights bobbing up and across the hillsides.
            At mile 87ish, my daughter shared with her running buddies that she physically couldn't lift her right leg anymore and that she could barely walk, let alone run.  Can't was winning. The fellow runner responded with, “At this point, any kind of movement is going to hurt, so you might as well run." By mile 97, at the last aid station, they had one more hillside to climb. By then her muscles were tight and she was clearly limping and had lost Hope. Just as she climbed to the top, the sun began to break over the distant hills, casting a glorious magenta hue across the sky. It was as if she was up above the city, soaring.  God gave her new found strength into her tired legs. Suddenly her perspective changed and she realized that she had it in her to continue. They began to run, and a new burst of energy propelled her to the end. Back on mile 87 my daughter didn't think she could continue, and yet 10 miles farther down the trail, she found the energy to finish strong.
            I learned this weekend that we are stronger than we realize. We have the capacity to do things we never thought possible. While I may never run an ultra marathon, I pray that I will encounter life with the same fearless tenacity and steely determination. My prayer for you is that you do the same. Truly we do not know what we are capable of. Maybe that's what concerns Fear and drives him to torment us. Give him something to be concerned about. Tell Can't and Shouldn't to shut up. Tell Fear where to go.  Live your life with fearless tenacity and endless determination, knowing that God will provide Hope and give you the strength when you most need it.

But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.- Isaiah 40:31

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