My dear Danielle is so much more of a daredevil than I am. She’s the skydiving, dirt bike racing, spooky forest, adrenaline junkie; and I’m super jealous. She somehow tricked me onto the “Fury 325,” which is a fitting name for Carowinds’ roller coaster, one that is called a giga coaster and the fifth tallest, seventh fastest, and fourth longest roller coaster in the world. Yes, I had to look all of that up, and I hope it lets you know how terrified I was to get on this. I figured I could chicken out, but her dad was there, and of course I had to show I was a brave guy for his daughter. I remember feeling so sick as we waited in line, and I said, I’ll be fine as long as I’m not in the front row. We then got the front row. I remember the hot sun beating down on me, and Danielle yelling, “look it’s Charlotte!” I turned my head and saw the entire city of Charlotte, North Carolina. I then remember the coaster being a jerk and stopping for a little bit at the peak, then we dropped. I thought my skin was going to peel off of my face, certain that even though I have never had a bad heart, that it would then burst out of my chest.
Well, it’s finally here. In just a couple of days it will be Halloween, the candy will have been eaten and the spooks will settle down (unless you’re a spooky boy like me and it’ll last all year). Before that, we have one last post about fear and spooky b-movies. I want to finish off talking about fear with this one simple idea, when we live in fear, we live as slaves. We fear commitment because of hurtful relationships in the past. We live in fear because of the emotions going on in our heads. We live in fear of the unknown and not having the life plan we desire. We live in fear that we will fade away and that no one will remember us. These fears enslave us, but when we choose to fight fear with love, we become free.
I think children’s stories capture so much of the human condition. Often these books and tales try to take real life obstacles and put them in the form of something light hearted and silly, in order to help children mature. One of my favorites is, The Little Engine that Could. A story about a train engine facing an impossible task in front of him. In a moment of desperation, our train friend begins to believe in himself and starts saying, “I think I can, I think I can.” I love that. Sometimes in our own lives we are faced with big hills, these mountains of fears and unknowns, but we need to keep pressing on.
I’m reminded of another children’s tale, one that I loved watching growing up. Each week, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers would face a nasty bad guy (It was always obvious they were super bad). I’ll go ahead and spoil the formula for every episode, a formula so sound, that they still use it for the current Power Ranger show airing now. The baddie attacks the rangers, they morph into their power suits, taking the bad guy out, only to then have the baddie turn into a colossal version of themselves. Faced with impossible odds, the rangers fly into their robot megazord and never give up. It always ends with the heroes being victorious and blowing up the baddie (never looking at the explosion cause that’s how cool people do it).
It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these journey updates. The flow of these is pretty much just me taking some time to share about what’s been happening to me personally and what God has showed me through it all. It has been an insane ride. I got married, moved in with my amazing wife, got fired, wandered in a state of unknown, we decided to move, had a few panic attacks in there, and are on the job search as we move to Orlando, Florida.
Yeah, a lot has happened.
Fear is just the worst. I’m not talking about the type of fear that comes over us when we watch a scary movie or hear a noise in the night, I’m talking about that great and powerful, “unknown.” Think about it, we are all scared by what we don’t know. Ever been at a party and you knew no one? It’s the pit in your stomach when you were in a class and the teacher said to choose a partner, but you have never spoken to a soul in that room. You kinda just have to go with the guy next to you, but if you have the luck like I do, you get partnered with the guy who blows his cigarette smoke into his backpack. That’s a true story by the way. I have never been more speechless than that moment. Anyways, fear of the unknown is extremely unsettling. It’s the reason why you rarely see the shark in Jaws, the picture you create in your mind will always be scarier than when you actually come face to face with it (though sharks are all kinda freaky to me). I recently dealt with this amped up fear of the unknown this past week, and came face to face with some heavy lies.
I want to talk about fear today, but more accurately, how fear truly stinks.
Well, we are now officially in the full swing of the new year! I hope all of your resolutions have stuck around, but more importantly, I hope you have set some great goals for this new year. It seems like there are always people who decide to get all “bah-humbug” about setting goals during the new year, but the truth is, the new year can be a great reset for all of us. Sure, we can set goals in June and not only January, but the new year truly highlights an opportunity to reflect. That’s why this year, my wife and I chose to focus on the word, dreamer, to always make sure we are dreaming bigger and dreaming about what God has. Our goals are to be active dreamers, not just head in the clouds, but doing something to accomplish these dreams. I have had to shift my mindset, and say, “God, you’ve got the plan, just lead me there.” I’m normally the planner, the past four-ish years, I had in my mind exactly what I was going to do. My job was going to head into full-time, Danielle and I would start working together and have enough experience to plant a church in a few years. I had it all worked out, but then God said, not here you won’t. In that moment I struggled, I’m not perfect, I grieved my job loss and my plans, but in the end, God was teaching me how to let it go and listen to his voice over my own.
Good story makes all the difference. Have you ever gone to a movie where it just felt off? One of my favorite things is to watch really bad movies, or “b-movies,” and laugh at the ridiculous nature of it. We love good story. It’s the reason why we watch movies and read books, and find ourselves heartbroken, exhilarated, and connected to characters who aren’t even real. This past week, my wife, Danielle and I had a chance to go on our official honeymoon to Harry Potter World and Walt Disney World. It was absolutely incredible. Throughout the trip I kept wondering why I was connecting to the environment on a deep level. Yes, it was fun and a great experience, but there was something more. Something I was quite getting, then it hit me.
November is here! I always love this season. The leaves have changed, the weather is perfect for jackets, and the thanksgiving season is all around. I love what thanksgiving represents, not the whole pilgrims being murderer’s thing, but the mindset of being thankful for the things in our lives. Family, friends, passions, dreams; all of it have been given to us by a God that loves us. Sometimes, life pushes against this mindset. The enemy attacks, we enter hardship, and find it hard to have joy in our lives. We have blessings, but choose to have bitterness of what we don’t have. We have a choice to make. Do we let what we perceive as failures and setbacks as an excuse to live bitter? Or do we let these propel us into our future? This is something I have been wrestling through; walking through these rough moments that make me question what God’s plan in all of it is. The truth is, and this is a truth for all of us, God has a plan, we just have to trust him with a grateful heart.
The past few months have been absolutely wild. A couple of these journey updates ago, I talked about how a new chapter of my life was starting, and a little over five weeks ago that chapter began. On one of the hottest days imaginable, I said “I do” to my best friend. It was amazing! Highly recommend getting married to your best friend. While our engagement was only three months (I highly recommend short engagements), there was a whirlwind of things to get done and last-minute details. My anxiety was slightly raising, but when the day finally arrived, it all faded away. The best day of my life, September 22nd, when the new chapter of my life with Danielle began. I know, I know, sounds pretty cheesy but it’s true. Two of my favorite moments from our wedding stood out and I will always remember. We had our first look, where Danielle and I read each other the vows we wrote. The second was during our ceremony, in front of the people who have invested in our lives, and having a moment to worship. We were together, two becoming one, and choosing to worship in the midst of all things.
What a wild season it has been so far. I’ve started doing these journey updates, a kind of informal blog about what has been happening in my life with a mixture of what God has been speaking during my changing seasons. My current season has been wild. I got engaged, and that has been just a powerful blessing. We are not only engaged, but we wanted a quick engagement, and we are getting married in September! We are so excited, and things are coming together. Sometimes it can be hard to enjoy this season fully because we are so busy. Not so much with wedding planning, but with life. Life has a way of going all wild and crazy, it becomes difficult to keep my head above it all. This season has been filled with a lot of stressors. Many things keep flying at me and it’s hard to block all of it. I feel like Batman running through a gauntlet of rogues, just trying to make it through to be the hero a city desperately needs. Stress has become a norm in my life, and I’m not a huge fan of that. Sure, one could say that it “builds character” or “just hold on,” but it doesn’t lessen the frustration. I’ve been struggling with it a lot, but this season has also taught me to have trust. A deep, meaningful trust in my savior.