The other day my friend and I decided to go on a spur of the moment hiking adventure after work (one of the many perks of living in an adventurous area). We hopped into my little black car, Marlee, and we took off. I was excited to show her a short trail I recently found, it was tucked between the lake and a tall row of cliffs. As we got closer to the trail, we drove up on a roadblock just before a curve in the road. There weren't any signs and we weren't sure why it was blocked, so we parked on the shoulder and decided to investigate. As we rounded the corner, we saw a few Department of Transportation vehicles and workers. They were doing maintenance on the little bridge crossing the lake and we would not be able to drive across.
As we approached the edge of the bridge, one of the DOT workers said we could walk across if we wanted to.
Excited, we accepted his offer. We were excited because it is a historic, one lane wooden suspension bridge. On a normal day, you would never be able to walk across because of the constant traffic and narrow path. When you drive over the bridge, you hear the old planks creaking and if you go slow enough you can feel the wind gently pushing it back and forth.
It is one of my favorite things.
And now we had an opportunity that we might not get again.
We walked all the way to the middle, where you can look both left and right and see the curve sloping back down in both directions. We stood there for a while taking in the scenery, soaking in the moment. Each step sent little waves through the wood and each gust of wind rocked the bridge just enough to notice. We used our time to inspect every inch and every surface:
the smoothness of the weathered planks,
the size of the bridge,
the fact that there are people out there smart enough to figure out how to build structures like this.
We admired the grand scale of the metal running the length of the frame and the fact that you could see straight into the water through gaps in the planks. We were amazed that this bridge has been around for years and years, how much work it must've taken to complete it.
Although we were admiring everything and filing these details away for safe keeping, there was a little part of me that was freaked out.
Part of me said "I can't believe I drive over this for enjoyment" and another part said "how does this even hold my car?".
Then still, a tiny part of me wanted to sprint all the way down to the edge of the bridge: I wanted to stand behind the thick white lines on the road that read "STOP" and I wanted to heed the warning. I wanted to feel the firmness of the asphalt under my sandals knowing the ground wouldn't move.
I wanted to be absolutely sure that I wouldn't be rocked by the waves that were rolling back and forth, but I didn't run.
I didn't sprint to the white lines.
I stood there feeling the little waves move up and down the planks.
I stood there looking straight down into the lake through the gaps in the wood.
I stood there and admired the worn out texture of the whole thing.
How crazy would it have been if I had just run off the bridge in fear?
As I stood there contemplating the craziness of that scene playing out in my mind, it hit me.
I run off the bridge all the time.
I mean, I don't literally run off the bridge. But how many times do I bail on something because of fear? How many times do I let fear make decisions for me?
How many times am I brought to a bridge in life, and instead of seeing the things that are going right, the opportunities, I see all the things that can go wrong?
I would even go out on a limb and say that I do it every single day. Sometimes fear runs wild, and I let it.
It might look like me not asking the lady in the same grocery store isle if she needs help, for fear of being seen as a "weirdo", or
turning down a lunch invitation, for fear of not knowing what to say while I'm there, or
me saying "I'm okay" when I really need to say "it's been a rough week".
It might even be as simple as not asking someone a question I know I should. You know, the kind of question that makes your stomach churn in fear of rejection or dismissal. The kind that often leads to hard conversations about struggles and disappointments and life changes. The ones you fear you will regret asking, but you know you will also regret not asking.
While I stood on the bridge I realized how much of my life is determined by fear.
I realized that sometimes I choose to avoid the bridges of life because I don't want to deal with the waves; I don't want to feel the structure being moved under my feet. And sometimes I choose the adventure of walking straight onto the bridge because I'm afraid of life being boring.
I am beginning to recognize when fear is speaking louder than faith.
I'm not saying that ignoring all fear is good. Some fear is important, and it warns us of danger ahead. However, sometimes we need to remain where we are and stand firmly on the bridge. Sometimes we need to stare down the gaps, straight into the water even if it freaks us out a little. Sometimes we need to ask if someone needs help or we ourselves need to ask for help. Sometimes we need to ask the hard questions.
We weren't created to be fearful beings.
We are called to lean on him and call on him in times of fear.
We are made in his image.