This morning I had the amazing opportunity to go canopy zip-lining in Western North Carolina. I am not a big fan of heights, but it is not debilitating. However, there was a woman in our tour group who we found out pretty quickly had overwhelming anxiety of heights. Placing this woman in a harness and on a zip line to fly over 100 feet in the air was no small task.
I kept thinking, how many times am I that woman? I can be overcome with anxiety when a challenge occurs, sometimes I face the fear and soar, other times I climb back down to the ground and avoid the experience at all costs. Maybe you deal with the anxiety monster. I say monster because there is nothing beautiful about anxiety. However, there is beauty in choosing bravery.
As I watched from a different perspective, I saw this woman crying on the line in the midst of her fear, deep breathing on every platform, and facing each new line with strength. Unfortunately, she had enough and could not muster up the courage to go past the fourth zip line. All of us cheered her on, but we were sad that she missed out on the rest of the tour, including the most gorgeous view of the mountains and lake.
Today I am going to share some practical tips from an anxiety survivor and continued warrior. These are ways in which I have learned the beauty of choosing bravery. No, I do not always enjoy the fear-inducing experiences, but I have learned and continue to understand how to make the most of the trials.
Before we began our tour, our guides told us some facts about how the cords used are the same as the ones used to stop fighter jet airplanes. They said that our trolleys – the small clips that held us onto the line – could hold an elephant. On top of that, they shared the fact that the Y cords were also clipped on everywhere that we went as a backup safety.
So many times, I impose unnecessary fear into a situation. Although there are legitimate moments of concern in life, I can create terrifying scenarios that are non-existent except in my mind. Romans 12:12 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
The pattern of this world is to worry. A friend once wisely told me that creative people can use their creativity negatively when they start making up worst case scenarios. Creativity is a gift, but if used in a sinful state, can cause unnecessary stress.
We can combat the chaos by reminding ourselves of what is true. On the zip line, I had a few enticing moments of worry, but I did not entertain those thoughts by the grace of God. Instead, I enjoyed the view and rested in the truth that I was triply secure on that line which could hold an elephant and pull airplanes. Fear likes to take away, and knowledge gives back. In moments of deciding between these pluses or minuses, we can take hold of the truth that we are held by God and He is sovereign. We can rest in the fact that He knows every day that we live, and He never leaves us. We can take each thought captive to Christ instead of running with it and making a negative story line.
Worry ruins an experience. I am not a huge fan of flying on airplanes. To be honest, I know the facts that they are safer than a car ride, but the height and the fact that I am not driving make me very uncomfortable. Throw in the feeling of being shot into the sky thousands of feet high. The Lord really pushed me out of my comfort zone when He opened the door undeniably for me to go to the other side of the world. The only way there was by plane. I faced a huge fear with Christ by going.
When I recently flew a short flight with my husband, I realized just how great a victory that truly was when he leaned over to me while holding my hand and said, “How did you fly all the way across the world?” I answered, “God.” The Lord helped me on that long journey to find things to focus on that were positive. Instead of focusing on all of the negatives, I would be in awe of the beauty of the earth below, admire the sun, be thankful for the kind attendants, spend time in the Bible and praying, or working on something productive. We can take our anxious energy and put it to better use.
When the woman was nearby on the zip line tour, she fought hard and I could see in her face the battle going on in her mind. There were moments when she focused on the beauty of the trees and even shared some nature facts. From the outside looking in, that perspective was there within her, but she became overcome by her fears in the end.
I am not saying that this is not a fight, but the battle for our minds has been won by Christ. Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” When we are in a tough situation, it is understandable how we can lack peace, but Jesus is beyond our imaginations. The way in which we respond to anxiety can be a witness to others of the work of Jesus. No, we do not have to be fearless, but we can take steps to move forward through our anxious thoughts and choose to ask the Holy Spirit to guard our hearts and minds and to refocus our thinking on the positive and the productive.
The truth is that the woman who was afraid on the zip line was going to give up after the first line. However, our group encouraged her with words and cheered her on. She ended up going 1/3 of the way and did four times as many lines as she would have done on her own. This reminds us that to be anxious and to isolate is defeat. When we press into the gift of community, or even just one friend or counselor to motivate us, we can go further and do more than we could ever have on our own.
Sometimes God places people in our lives to believe for us when we do not believe as much in ourselves. Ephesians 4:9-10 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
We all have various fears, but we can have transformed perspectives as we look towards the Lord who love us. We can remind ourselves of the truth, find the positive and productive, and press into the community. Even if we make small strides in the battle of anxiety, we can celebrate the progress. There is true beauty in choosing to be brave with the help of God. He grows our faith, we can witness to others, and we can recognize how He is helping us be refined more like Himself.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/vchal
Emma Danzey’s mission in life is to inspire young women to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. Emma is a North Carolina resident and green tea enthusiast! She is married to her husband Drew and they serve international college students. She enjoys singing, dancing, trying new recipes, and watching home makeover shows. During her ministry career, Emma recorded two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, ran the Refined Magazine, and served in music education for early childhood. Currently, she is in the editing stages of her first two writing projects: a Bible study on womanhood and a non-fiction book on singleness. You can visit her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com