My children went on their first roller coaster. With each turn, I nearly squeezed the life out of my three-year-old, all five of us screaming with terror. By the end of the ride, I anticipated faces filled with tears and runny noses.
Turns out, I was wrong. My little guy said, “That was scary and that was fun.” And now, when recalling the favorite memories of winter break, the roller coaster experience wins time and time again. It is a fascinating phenomenon: to feel a sense of thrill while actively being afraid. To experience joy while experiencing fear.
Is that not the exact feeling as we begin a new year? The fear of the unknown, the nervousness of starting something unfamiliar, the mystery of what tomorrow might bring? For some of us, new steps feel frightening. Frightening enough to stay stationary, progress halted. And yet, look at the wonder experienced when getting on the ride. We may feel scared pursuing our dreams, but to let fear paralyze us in staying motionless would rob us of a joy we have yet to experience.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.” What is it that God says to Abraham, Isaac, Moses, and Joshua in their most transitional moments? “Do not be afraid.” In other words, don’t let the fear of what can be malign the possibility of joy entering your life.
It is ok to be afraid. But don’t let that stop you from getting on the ride.