I stood there looking up at the roller coaster that would surely take my life. The Oblivion. The very name assured me I wouldn’t make it out alive.
My brother, sister and I were at Alton Towers, England’s number one theme/death park. We’d been brought there with a youth group from the church my dad was preaching at. I was the youngest so, naturally, I pretended that roller coasters didn’t make me want to projectile vomit all over them. Over share? My bad.
We lined up for our death and I prayed that I wouldn’t be tall enough to go on the ride. Apparently I wasn’t very close to Jesus that day because I was tall enough. We joined the long line for the ride and I faked my bravest smile, the kind you use when the teacher enters the room and you want a gold star.
Interrupting whatever conversation was going on, I casually-not-casually said,
“When we get to the end of this line, I might pretend I’m really scared. Whatever happens, make sure I go on this ride, even if you have to pick me up and strap me in yourself, kicking and screaming.”
I took their evil laughter as verbal agreement.
With each step closer, dreams of growing old-and-grey felt further away. Cue my back up plan.
Step one: Nervous laughter.
Step two: Offering to hold everyone’s bags.
Step three: Get down on my knees, turn on the waterworks, and beg them not to make me go.
Just when I thought my plan was working, like they promised, they picked me up and strapped me in. Kicking and screaming.
It was time to die.
I shut my eyes and said the sinner’s prayer one more time. Just to be safe. The tension grew as the ride slowly crawled up the hill, seconds felt like hours. I slowly fluttered my eyes open, to see that we were at the top, teetering on the edge. The ride creaked and started tipping over the edge of the drop. I thought my stomach was about to climb up my throat and out through my eye sockets.
Before I had time to scream, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do!", we flew over the edge.
We went face first, plummeting into the smoky oblivion.
The momentum of the drop swung the ride around the corner before it abruptly finished where we had started. My body was reacting as if I had just consumed seven times the recommended yearly amount of caffeine, in one day. I couldn’t stop shaking, giggling and squealing, even though the ride had finished a long while ago. Yeah, I was that kid.
As we walked off the ride, I looked up at where we had just come from moments earlier. I couldn’t believe it. I had conquered the scariest thing in my little life, and boy did it feel good.
We rode the rest of the rollercoasters that day and, while they were scary, after I had taken on The Oblivion, they seemed like old hat. Well, not really old hat, kind of like a newish hat – maybe the kind of hat that I had worn once or twice.
Sometimes we just need to do things that scare us. Why? Because of the feeling we get when we do something we never thought we could. It’s one of the greatest feelings in the world.
Sometimes we just need to decide that what we need to accomplish is more important than the fear we feel.
I’ve just made a huge decision in my life that simultaneously terrifies and excites me, and I think that’s the starting blocks for all the best decisions. So I took my leap of faith. I can’t wait to tell you about it next week.
But what about you? Maybe right now you’re facing something that’s causing you anxiety. It may feel as silly as a fear of rollercoasters or the dark, as debilitating as a fear of flying or as overwhelming as moving overseas, starting a new business or changing career paths.
I have good news. God is on your side. He’s sitting next to you on your rollercoaster. Ask Him to hold your hand and then, strap yourself in, kicking and screaming.