Trust, Tenacity, and Letting Go of Fear

by | Oct 29, 2012 | Uncategorized

A Lesson In Trust

My hands wring sweaty, clamped around the steering wheel, heart beating towards suffocation. A blanket of anxiety drapes over my shoulders, down my legs, as we drive over the Ravenel Bridge into Charleston. I turn to my teenage daughter and tell her to start talking to me. I need a distraction.

“I have this irrational fear honey,” I explain, “it started almost twenty years ago . . .”

“I know Mom,” she interrupts, “you’ve told me about it before.”

She reads the directions I printed out. Knowing what to expect helps the fear diminish, even though I listen to the voice of the GPS.

As we take a left turn to exit the bridge, my nervous laughter breaks the tension and she catches the contagious giggles.

How It All Started

Almost twenty years ago, fear settled over me while behind the wheel of my Toyota Celica on a small bridge in Jackson, Tennessee. H drives behind me, in an un-air-conditioned moving van with all our possessions, his mother sits in the passenger seat.  We were making a cross-country move from Phoenix to Cleveland, Tennessee as newlyweds, entering the season of seminary.

I swerved off the road, overcome with sudden anxiety and nearly escaped a collision with the face of a rocky mountain. H missed the rear of my car by inches.  And even though God continues to move us to islands connected by bridges, I avoid driving over them whenever possible. Until my friend Kelly called to say she is coming to town on a visit from Colorado.

Kelly and I, we’ve been friends for almost twenty years. Before her wedding and our collective five children, we linked arms on the pilgrimage of missionaries to join Youth with a Mission. Five household moves ago, we shared the foundational years of planting our spiritual roots in leadership. The last time we were together our boys slept in infant car seats. I wasn’t about to let crossing a bridge steal this opportunity.

From Fear to Freedom

Sometimes we must revisit the areas of greatest challenge and deepest wounding for the purpose of cultivating deeper trust in Jesus. Because salvation is an ongoing process of learning how to let go and trust. And those who trust become trustworthy.

I want more than anything, for God to know I am trustworthy. So when the enemy of the soul taunts with “We’ve already dealt with this so why are you here again” and “This Jesus stuff doesn’t work” I hold on to trust with a death grip.  Because Jesus, He will save me from myself.

I kicked fear to the curb on a bridge that day and looked trust in the eyes around a café table and pastries with our teens. Today trust is born on a writing journey with a dream. I’m engaged in a stare down I’m planning to win.

If I believe that He holds my life in His hands, then what have I to fear?

Do you struggle with letting go of fear? How do you let go?

This is a re-written post, in case it sounds familiar.

Linking with Ann to count gifts of cool air, rainy days, a good book on the porch, a husband who makes dinner, friends visiting from Asia and Africa, the continual God-incidences here on the blog and for my coach Terry Walling, who lifts my arms when they are weary.

With friends Laura and Michelle too.

This is #29 in the series 31 Days of Letting Go. You can read the collective here. If you are a writer, I invite you to link up any post you’ve written on the theme of letting go in the comments on Friday. Subscribe to receive the series in your inbox or feed by adding your address in the side bar under Follow Redemptions Beauty.

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  1. kd sullivan

    I’m glad that friendship was the key to your freedom…what an inspiration you are!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      You just never know what God will use to engage freedom. I’m glad it was a friendship too.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Angie, so glad to have you join the conversations here, thanks for the follow. I look forward to stopping over at your blog.

  2. kelliwoodford

    “Sometimes we must revisit the areas of greatest challenge and deepest wounding for the purpose of cultivating deeper trust in Jesus.”
    oh man, this is perfect after reviewing the deep wounding i shared at prodigal mag yesterday . . . writing it sure brings it back in living color, ya know? thanks for these words, they are a balm to me tonight.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Kelli, I had no idea that you have two blogs until tonight when I clicked on your gravatar. Where do you find the time? I loved your story. I know it reveals another side of yourself that feels a bit exposed but I’m so proud of you for doing it.

  3. Christina

    I am a fear hoarder. Still fighting the battle to trust and cross my own bridges. I’m glad you reported this, it’s a great one!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      We have to let go every day don’t we Christina? Because salvation is an ongoing process.

  4. Lisa notes...

    I have a fear of driving over bridges, too. When we had to move my mother into an assisted living home two years ago, there was a huge bridge I had to cross over every day to visit her. I had no choice but to do it. The consistency of God never failing me as I drove over it, helped tone down my fear. It’s still not gone, but it’s lessened. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It seems God has a great sense of humor on these things. He moved us to places where I had no choice but to confront the fear if I wanted to go anywhere. And with each drive over a bridge the fear lessened, just like it did for you.

  5. ro elliott

    I feel like I am in this exact place…God is taking me back so I can move forward…. to free me from the chains that keep me from being able to run free with Him…kicking fear to the curb with you my sister…blessings and may His perfect love conquer our hearts~

    • Redemption's Beauty

      And you’ll probably circle around again a few more times on those issues Ro, but each time will be less hard than the first. Freedom is a continual process.

  6. Melanie Gillgrist (@MelanieGillgris)

    Your writing always has me feeling like I’m right there with you.
    When I’m fearful, remembering draws me towards God. Remembering how he has moved in the past, remembering his protection. Remembering his promises. They still come (the fearful moments). And he continues to show me how much bigger he is.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh me too Melanie. I remember what He has done but still find myself in places of fear which provide another opportunity to grow in trust. And perhaps we will circle around these issues until we see Him face to face.

  7. Lynn Morrissey

    Oh thank you for sharing this bridge story again, Shelly. I remember your sharing it before, and w/ all the bridges (big, long ones!) around St. Louis, I really get this…….plus, the need to let go my fear of so many things. Fear is one of my biggest fetters, and I long to be set free. And then I am reminded that Jesus Himself if my bridge who “laid Himself down over my troubled water,” and that He has *aldready* set me free! He is the Bridge who spans the gulf (impossible to navigate otherwise) between my sinful self and God. He is the foundational Bridge, Who gives me sure footing to cross over that fathomless canyon between my sinful self and a sinless God. Oh would that I could cast all my fears upon Christ, and remember that freedom from fear is already a reality in Him! I love this post (well, I always do, don’t I, dear one?)!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Love all those analogies you just made with the bridge and our relationship with Jesus. Good food for thought.

  8. Marcus Goodyear

    Good thoughts, Shelly. I especially appreciate the idea that conquering your fears doesn’t mean they go away. They are still there, but they don’t control us unless we let them.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Marcus, it is a treat to have you visit my little space on the web. Thank you.
      This idea comes from the reality that salvation is an ongoing process. I think its something that Christians forget, thus the amount of guilt we heap on ourselves when we revisit areas of pain and struggle.

  9. Marilyn

    “Sometimes we must revisit the areas of greatest challenge and deepest wounding for the purpose of cultivating deeper trust in Jesus. ”

    I have an enormous FEAR of EXPOSURE and it seems like it comes back ’round again and again, like God is trying to break me of it. I’m sure that is true.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Marilyn, so great to see you here, thank you for joining the conversation. I do think it is God’s grace to bring those areas back up for the purpose of becoming more like Him each time we circle around the issues. Mine are abandonment and risk.

  10. ljbmom

    One time, after going to a wedding in Baltimore, I accidentally navigated my husband and I into some kind of commercial docks and we ended up going over the Frances Scott Key bridge. It was very tall. With little tiny railings on the side. And it was very windy that day. My husband did not speak to me the rest of the way home to WV! It was a long trip. Its a terrible fear to overcome and you are very brave for confronting it, Shelly. Some things are worth it, aren’t they?

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Okay Laura, that story freaks me out a little. eek!


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