Lets talk about fear.

Most of my life has been ruled by it.

Fear of taking chances. Fear of change. Fear of risk. Fear of death.

A few years back I packaged up all my “what if’s” and handed them over to the Lord. A year later He took away my fear of death when I lost my Dad. A year after that, I packed up everything I had, hopped in my car and relocated to Georgia. There was only one big fear I had left and it wasn’t fear of the Lord, it was heights.

Now for most, I’d imagine a fear of heights is a rational fear. It forces us to put some more attention on our environment, to be aware of what might go wrong if we’re not careful. For me it was absolutely debilitating. Any height above what my two eyes could see in front of me induced a level of fear based brain fog and physical paralysis that increased exponentially.

A few feet above the ground I could handle but my anxiety was heightened. Whatever led me to that place would get handled quickly and I would rush to get back down to terra firma. Things like standing inside a skyscraper or flying on a plane didn’t bug me at all. 3 stories up and able to see a power line? Forget it. I’d start to lock up.

It was so bad at times that if there were men working on the roof of my house, I could not look up at them. Walking into my office involves using a short foot bridge between the 5th floor of the parking garage and the 4th floor of the office building. A glance to either side at the ground below shortened my breath and sent my pulse racing.

Now I’ve been in the word heavily the past few years, and a recurring theme has been to fear nothing for the Lord is with me. The only fear I should have is fear of the Lord, and that’s not physical paralysis fear, that’s holding Him in Holy reverence because He is Holy. The Lord is my refuge, my safe space, the one place in all of existence where I am at peace.

Unless I was high up.

Last week my stepdaughter paid me a visit and we went on some hikes. Both Amicalola Falls and Talula Gorge triggered my fear of heights. I pushed my way through the former, but when it came to the 200 foot long bridge suspended 80 feet above the river below, I wasn’t having it. I stood at the base of an exceptionally steep staircase as my stepdaughter ventured on.

I’d already had my fear triggered massively a few times at the gorge. Every scenic lookout was beautiful and vast, but the floor of the gorge was far from my feet and I could barely get myself near the sturdy fencing which separated the lookout from the chasm. I was missing out on completely enjoying the trek because of my fear, I was embarrassed and annoyed.

The week after my stepdaughter left, I started to slip into a funk. I felt old fears begin to creep back in and I officially had enough of them. I prayed to God. I reached out to my brothers in Christ to pray for me as well. Within a day I began to notice a change. I walked into my office across that foot bridge and didn’t feel any fear. It was peculiar.

I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed.

Psalm 34:4-5

On my lunch break, I walked the 5 story parking garage from the base level to the roof. Where previously I took comfort in the 4 high walls which surrounded me, this time I pulled myself up and peered over the edge. I felt that knot of fear in my mind but it was having no effect on me. I looked straight down at the asphalt below… and I was fine!

So I made the decision then and there, I was going to cross that gorge. The fear had left me briefly in the past, usually after going somewhere exceptionally high up and challenging it. In the weeks and months that followed, gutters got cleared, light bulbs were changed, shingles were nailed down – I had no fear until it began to creep back in.

A view of the bridge from up top, one of the scenic outlooks.

This time was different though. I was on a mission. I had asked God to remove the fear from me, and this was to be the moment where I challenged myself again. I was waiting for it, to be honest. I assumed at some point during my trip down the steep staircase to the bridge (which previously gave me pause) it would sweep back in and stop me cold.

The entry to the bridge, 200 feet across and 80 foot over a rocky river below.

Where two weeks back I couldn’t even walk up to the end of the bridge to get on it, this time I stood there, paused, and said “Lord give me strength.” I stepped out. I was fine. I think the only pang of fear I felt the entire time was at the possibility of dropping my phone on the bridge which would shuffle and bounce from the people crossing or wind cutting through it.

Obligatory selfie at the mid-point. No fear. It felt surreal.
The view from up above.
The other side, looking back. I did it.

I wasn’t able to continue up the south rim trail this time as it was closed off to accommodate a kayak event. They didn’t want to risk a hiker getting smacked in the face by a kayak being carried down the stairs. Understandable. That’ll be a voyage for my next trip across, I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for me next with this fear removed from me.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Proverbs 9:10

With only one fear left, the only fear that matters, maybe now I can start working on that wisdom thing. God bless!

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