Fear At the Top of the Hill
I looked down the 15 foot rock face that the other guys had just ridden down on their mountain bikes and the sight of it froze me in place. But hey, the other five guys did it so I backed up, approached the steep decline and … froze again, jamming on the brakes. My buddies waited at the bottom and now I added a new fear, would they think less of me if I didn’t ride down this treacherous part of the trail?
In her book Who Switched Off My Brain?, Dr. Caroline Leaf notes that fear triggers more than 1400 known physical and chemical responses and activates more than 30 different hormone and neurotransmitters. Fear is the root of all stress. (DrLeaf.com) Joyce Meyers says that fear causes a stress reaction that marinates the body in toxic chemicals. (Her book Power Thoughts is a fantastic resource.) There is a lot going on when we experience fear. At the top of that hill my neuro-whatevers were marinating my brain pretty well!
You need to believe you can do it
Just before I backed up for the third attempt (attempt #2 ended the same way as attempt #1) I heard one of my buddies yell, “The bike can ride over it, you have to let your mind believe you can do it“.
“Ya right”, I thought. “I know your bikes can do it because they did but they didn’t have me riding them!” But something about what my friend said stuck.
I decided to only put one finger on my brake lever. That way it would slow me down but not stop me when I tried to jam on the brakes. I backed up, pushed off and headed toward my fear with one thought, ‘the bike can do it, let your mind believe you can’. I did try to squeeze the brakes but as I crested the top of the rock face it wasn’t enough and I rolled straight down. That was my last thought. I woke up in the hospital two days later… just kidding! No, I actually rode it! It was amazing. My buddies were cheering and whistling and I felt alive. I rode right into my fear, survived and felt the thrill of the ride.
I reflect back on that day many times when I am facing a fear because of what I learned and experienced. I learned that our minds are powerful and can hold us back or they can brake us free of our present bounds. I learned to feed off the courage of others. I learned that stepping into fear can be exhilarating, and I learned one other tremendous lesson. You see, the next time I rode that trail the steep rock face wasn’t nearly as scary. I learned that each time you step into your fears there is a new found freedom and you have now stretched your boundaries a little more.
My mind is pretty stubborn (at least my friends say that) and I need others to help me walk into my fears. For me I have decided to listen to a certain other voice. God said He hasn’t given me a “spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline” (2 Tim 1:7). It’s a truth I am learning to live by and it is working.
What are you afraid of? Do you have someone encouraging you to face the fear and do it anyway? What fears have you overcome? Respond in the comments below. My story addresses a fear that was physical, but many times we face fears that are emotional or spiritual. We are afraid for our kids, or afraid that we’ll say the wrong thing in a relationship. If you want to learn more about facing your fears, the Bible is an excellent source of wisdom and encouragement. So is prayer. If you are currently facing a fear that seems overwhelming to you and you need someone to talk to we have mentors here that are available to talk to you.