Bridge over Fear #WritingThroughIt #Anxiety
I took my daughter to the park today. This is not an uncommon occurrence; we like to go two or three times a week when we can, and there’s not a pandemic keeping them closed. My little one, currently a terrific two-year-old, is fearless and completely undaunted by the unknown (a trait I wish I shared at times). And she likes to play on the 5-12 playground, of course.
My mom instincts want to herd her away to the little, more safe playground. It’s easier, smaller, more familiar. But my daughter, with a glint is determination, rushes straight over to the big playground and starts to climb. Anxiety claws through me; am I a good parent for letting her do this? It seems like it’s unsafe...I don’t want her to fall. I hover protectively for a while, watching her every move.
Until she gets to the bridge. It’s a swaying plank bridge with big gaps between the slats. And I see the fear in her eyes. I can’t save her; she’s going to have to cross it or find another way to get down. And she wants to cross it. Still timid and fearful at first, she starts to cross, testing the swaying bridge with her little foot. She starts to put her weight into it, still nervous but growing more confident. She grabs for my hand through the bars to steady her; she knows I’m near but she wants to do this. And step by step, with a boldness that surprises me, my little two-year-old crosses this bridge. I saw the biggest grin break across her face, and she exclaimed, “I DID IT!” and jumped up and down.
I realized a few things in this moment, as a parent, as a daughter of Christ, as someone who struggles with mental health.
As a parent, I learned that even though my child is only two, she is bold, ambitious, strong, determined, and more beautiful than I ever realized— and I want her to always know that. I want to support her as she dreams big, beautiful, impossible dreams like my parents did for me.
I’ve also learned (or, I’ve been learning for a while now) that sometimes you have to do it afraid. Even when you’re crossing a bridge you don’t know if you’re even capable of crossing— that others have told you specifically NOT to cross, sometimes you just have to swallow your fear and hold on to faith in that moment. One step at a time. I get so tired of letting anxiety rule my thoughts and keep me from the joy of the present, and the future. All it takes is one step at a time.
I want to be bold like my daughter, childlike wonder in my eyes, joyful expectation that there is goodness on the other side of the bridge. Even if I have to inch my way across, I want to cross the bridges the Lord lays before me, holding fast to His hand all the while.
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