Between Fear and Freedom

What are you afraid of? I’m afraid of heights.

Well, it’s not really heights I’m afraid of, it’s falling from heights. And in fact, the falling isn’t too bad. Falling can be fun, especially if it’s into something soft. It’s falling onto something hard that I don’t like.

Yeah, so I’m afraid of landing. And really, it’s not landing either. It’s the pain. I’m afraid of the pain of landing on something hard. I don’t want the pain.

And so, because I’m afraid of pain, I’m also afraid of heights.

Recently we bought our kids a trampoline. Jumping on that trampoline with my sweaty kids brought back an old memory of mine from when I was a youngster. I used to have this reoccurring dream about jumping on a trampoline. I was bouncing and getting higher and higher – ten feet, twenty feet, thirty, forty, fifty feet! And then…on one particular bounce that shot me super high…I started to drift over a bit and I could tell I wasn’t going to land on the trampoline. I was going to land on the hard ground. And right then, at the apex of the bounce right before my body went into a terrible freefall, I awoke in a cold sweat.

I forgot that memory, but I kept its fear. It manifested in my aversion to trust. I’m afraid of taking steps of faith, moving out into new heights because those new heights may include pain. The same swell of joy in a bouncing high risks a crashing low. I’m content to keep two feet planted on the ground and move straight ahead. But that’s a response to fear and it’s certainly not freedom.

Freedom is like the feeling you get as you go straight up in the air and then feel that freefall back to earth where you land and get ready for another bounce. Freedom is the feeling of being weightless and letting the earth pull you, push you, move you. Freedom is ultimately about letting God move you.

I’ve moved in freedom before. I’ve stepped out in faith and got run over. I mistakenly took those moments as cues to get back on the ground where it’s safe. I neglected to follow up each fall with faith instead of fear.

But here’s what I’m learning lately – Trust is the bridge between fear and freedom. Fear is a place of chains and shackles, of cement shoes that won’t move. Fear will keep you frozen in place and remove all hope. But freedom will set you free, let you soar on every bounce, a move as far ahead as you want. If you find yourself in a place called “Fear” and you want to get to the other side called “Freedom,” the only way across is trust. You have step out again and trust that God is going to be there.

Trust, for me, is like wearing a blindfold and walking across a floor of Legos barefoot. I imagine that I’ll be stepping on them even before I take a step. I can feel the pain and the pinch! I don’t want to trust if it means that I may have pain.

But the only way to guarantee you will be pain-free is to not move. Stand completely still. Don’t make a twitch. Not an inch! Right here. Trapped.

But if you want freedom – freedom to grow, to feel and experience life – then you’ll have to move. And when you move, if you move in trust, and even if you move blindfolded, you can move into great things.

Have you ever had trust issues? How do you deal with fear of trust in your life?