With my flight delayed because of fog in Pennsylvania–and a resulting missed connection in Washington–I did the unthinkable for me:
I rented a car and drove to Baltimore to catch my flight to Raleigh for a speaking event. Yes! It was crazy, a race against the clock, and very uncertain, but here I am, at the gate in Baltimore, relaxing with my laptop.
Every time I do something I think I cannot do, I grow a little stronger and a little more ready for whatever comes next.
The best part: my husband cheered me on from afar with every threshold crossed: Rebooked your flight? You can do this! Found the rental car? You can do this! Made it to Maryland? You did it! Returned the rental car and took the bus to the terminal and made it through security in record time? You did it!
So for today, you’re either the one cheering on someone else, or you’re the windswept, racing one who lives in pure adventure.
I’m reaching the point in my life where I’m OK with more and more uncertainty. I can now reframe fear and anxiety into faith and curiosity about how God will arrive with His presence, power, and provision. I think about Hebrews 11:6 as I embark on any new thing: “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
When the anxious feelings come, I recognize them as signals that I’m moving into greater opportunities for faith-filled living.
I can now reframe fear and anxiety into faith and curiosity.
Psalm 18 has completely disintegrated in my Bible because of how much I’ve read it. I credit this Psalm–and the Lord’s promises in it–as saving my life in graduate school and beyond.
Now, I listen to an audio version or read it online when I’m at that point in the Psalms. As I listened this morning, I noted 10 amazing promises in this writing:
- The Lord is my strength (verse 1).
- The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold (verse 2).
- In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears (verse 6)
- He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters (verse 16).
- The Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place. He rescued me because he delighted in me (verses 18-19).
- You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop. With my God I can scale a wall (verses 28-19).
- As for God, his way is perfect. The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him (verse 30).
- It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights (verses 32-33).
- He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze (verse 34).
- You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way (verses 35-36).
I love thinking of God in all of these ways!
Two different students say, “I wasn’t gonna come. But I did. I showed up.”
Excuses abound: it’s too cold, too early, too embarrassing to read writing aloud in class, too much work, too soon after a night out, etc.
I know all the reasons. I felt the same. I think about the lure, the temptation, to stay in bed and quit. But every moment I showed up—despite everything—culminated into weeks and months and then years of choosing the hard thing. Showing up mattered; it bore fruit. It proved that God does empower. Those days taught me I could be more than my old, scared, tired self.
I could be more.
So I showed up.
And you did, too.
We played Monopoly and card games. We lounged about. We stayed warm under blankets. We watched live television game shows.
I told my girls that this was what is was like for me as a girl, too. I’m thankful that boardgames and cards and TV game shows remain part of family life and snowy, cold days home from school. So much has changed, but so much hasn’t.
A large part of parenting always involves this singular conversation about how they must wear more clothes to stay warm. I’ve spent all their lives coaxing them into outerwear. It’s like negotiating a peace treaty.
And every day, they race on into their lives insisting they need no such clothing or accessories.
(I imagine these items weigh down their joy and hope in living somehow. They imprison them. Appropriate outerwear must represent all the old, conventional, disciplined things of aging. A coat symbolizes the burdens of life, and they want freedom.)
So every day, it’s this: You’ll freeze. You need mittens. You need a sweater. Here’s a hat! Here’s a scarf! You must wear a coat!
It doesn’t matter; they leave the house in sandals or flats in winter. In winter! They fly out the door, claiming “I’m fine! I’ll be fine!” in t-shirts and thin leggings.
I stand there, coats and mittens in hand, begging them.
(What are they, animals? Cats who find some spot in a neighbor’s garage to warm themselves? Dogs a kind neighbor takes in on cold afternoons? How do these children stay warm? How do they stay dry in the rain?)
I realize that at some point in my life, I took it upon myself to bring mittens and an extra sweater everywhere. I carry an umbrella. But maybe at some point in my life, the weather was the least of my concerns. Maybe, back then, life was too full of hope and laughter and busy, joyful things to bother at all with the cold or the heat. I, too, raced out the door.
My joy and hope kept me warm.
The snow falls outside, and I come into the warm house after shoveling snow. I heat the soup on the stove for lunch and feast in a quiet house as I watch the beautiful snow fall.
It’s quiet and warm and still.