My hands wring sweaty clamped around the steering wheel, heart starts to race. A wet blanket of anxiety covers me as we drive over the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston. I turn to my sixteen year old 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 on a piece of paper so I know what to expect once we get off the bridge, even though I am following the voice of the GPS.
As we take a left turn to exit the bridge, contagious laughter breaks the tension. Together, we kick fear to the curb.
Almost twenty years ago, fear settled over me while behind the wheel of my burgundy Toyota Celica on a small bridge in Jackson, TN. H behind me, driving the un-air-conditioned yellow moving van with all our possessions, his mother in the passenger seat. We were making a cross-country move from Phoenix to Cleveland, TN as newlyweds, entering the world of seminary.
I swerved off the road overcome with sudden anxiety and nearly escaped a collision with the face of a rocky mountain, H missing the rear of my car by inches. And even though God continues to move us to islands connected by bridges, I avoid driving over high overpasses, bridges, anywhere new. Until last Friday.
Kelly and I, we’ve been friends for almost twenty years. Before her wedding and the five children between us, we joined the pilgrimage of missionaries from across the world in Youth with a Mission. It’s been five household moves since I heard her voice.
And when she calls me after reading about travel plans to Scotland on my blog, we pick up the conversation where we left it twelve years ago, on her front porch in Colorado. She tells me she will visit Charleston in June, asks if I can meet her there for breakfast.
“Of course,” I say with trembling hands.
In order to see her, I have to drive over a bridge.
Love moves beyond what doesn’t make sense, transforms fear into brave. I held on to what I know is true with trembling hands that day. God’s providence, founded upon His love for me, is greater than my fear.
If I truly believe that He holds my life in His hands, then why am I afraid?
And I refuse to take a detour, miss out on what He has for me while fear’s deceptive voice tries to hold me hostage to safe and comfortable. Safe and comfortable, they’re highly overrated.
We gather around pastries and quiche at Whisk Bakery and talk about the hills and bends in the road that brought us to this place seated around café tables. Our daughters – the same age – meet for the first time. We recall the photo snapped in their infancy, propped up together in a crib.
Kelly reminds me how I decorated her wedding cake with flowers. I forgot.
When we say goodbyes, standing under halo of blue and clouds floating down river of sky, it feels like the sun radiates His smile over us. Like I’m seeing familiar for the first time.
Murielle and I crawl back into the car along busy streets and I’m actually excited about driving over that bridge again. Freedom, it feels good.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. ~I John 4:18a
Is fear keeping you from something? It’s time to kick her to the curb.