By Amanda Cleary Eastep
Day 2: Finding Courage, Giving up Fear [Days 3-7 linked below]
People often act out of fear. Talk about how getting outside and into nature can help you overcome fear and build courage. Have you ever traveled alone to a new city or country? What fears do you have in life that you want to overcome? How can you take steps to overcome them?
My grandmother could have a fearful spirit.
At the same time she was taking me for walks in the woods and keeping my early wanderlust satiated with pricey subscriptions to National Geographic magazine, she was sticking newspaper clippings about murders and kidnappings beneath our State Farm refrigerator magnets.
It was a contradiction, an inner, personal battle even, the triumphs and casualties of which manifested in both encouraging my dreams to see far away places and striking fear in my heart about becoming the next victim of every unassuming stranger with a cute puppy.
We can learn to operate out of fear, because of our circumstances. Understandable for my grandmother. Before she was 20, she lost her mother, her little brother, and her first husband.
But we can also become fearful from living in a world of self-imposed “what ifs”–what if I lose my job, what if something bad happens to my child, what if I fail?
My parents raised me to dream big and to believe I could be whatever I wanted to be…preferably within a 10 mile radius of home.
As a mother, I get that. The challenge is not letting fear rule.
When my youngest traveled for the first time overseas, we were relieved when the nonprofit she was working with chose the country it did…until the terrorist attack that struck the week before she left. She was then rerouted to a city many tourists of exotic locales visit regularly. Again, “relief.” Less than a year after her return home, the city experienced one attack after the next. Then we watched as the “safe” places were seemingly not so safe anymore–Paris, then Belgium, then London, the city I fell in love with when I was her age.
Walking in the forest is a metaphor for the treasures and dangers along our path.
It is not an either/or world. The contradictions teem simultaneously beneath the same canopy.
While we enjoy a family vacation, another family is breaking to pieces. While I am giving up eggs to lower my cholesterol, my sweet friend is aching from her last chemo treatment. While one child sits safely beside me, the other boards a city train on a stormy night.
This Bible verse has always comforted…and unnerved me.
“The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalm 56:4)
I can think of lots of things. I used to see them magnetized to the refrigerator when I grabbed milk for my corn flakes in the morning.
How can God tell me not to be afraid? Well, he just does.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
He invites me into a bigger space and a broader path where he walks beside me every step of the way.
What helps you overcome fear and build courage?
My filmmaker friend Erin is walking the Wicklow Way in Ireland. As part of a collaborative film project (to which my daughters and I have contributed), each day of the journey will have a theme. All week, I’m “walking alongside” Erin via this blog and sharing my experience of how walking/hiking/wandering on purpose can help and heal us.
Day 3: Wandering into Surprise
Day 4: Leaving Anger Along the Path