As my husband and I walked up to the other passengers that we would travel with to the ATM in Belize, I couldn’t help but feel as if I was the ugly duckling in the group. While they all looked athletically fit in their swim shorts and swim rash guards, I realized I didn’t have the proper attire for our excursion. They one thing I had going for me was the right pair of shoes. It was going to be a long day for me.
For over an hour that morning, I suffered from fear, sweating profusely and trying to ignore the growing knots in my stomach as we traveled to our destination. After we piled out of the van, our most excellent and knowledgable guide directed us to the change in the bathroom. When I made my way in the bathroom to change into my swimsuit, I could taste the tears flowing down my cheeks. Rather than doing what I was supposed to, I created a long list of reasons why I couldn’t go and prayed my husband would believe me. ( yeah, I should’ve known that wouldn’t go over well with him.)
Fear controls us in so many ways. And it definitely had its control on me right then.
When I finally climbed over my fear, I was able to face challenges I’d never encountered before.
First of all, there were three rivers to cross to get to the cave. Girlfriend, I held on for dear life to the rope for my river crossing. Then I was afraid of tripping on rocks and falling. Not only that, the only way into the dark cave was to swim in waist-high water while wearing your helmet.
Within a few minutes of water crossing as the water rose to my chest, I then had to fit through crevices with a sharp-edged rock sticking out. I was scared! The only thing I could do was trust the guide and know that my husband was right behind me.
Want to know what’s really funny about all this? I was the one who wanted to take this trip. I had a romantic vision of having quality time with Jeff and experiencing a sense of being in the jungle and nature of Belize. Well, I experienced nature to the fullest.
1. Being brave is listening to those voices of courage. While I was crying in the bathroom ready to wimp out, I needed to focus on trusting the expert guide and my husband. Above all else, I needed to trust God. He knew I was about to cross rivers and enter a dark, scary cave. He would be waiting to greet me on the other side in new ways I never thought possible.
2. Let other’s bravery encourage you. When I witnessed the other travelers with us, I saw them being brave and sure of the outcome, so in essence, it made me want to be as well. As I was maneuvering through those rocks and dark waters, it became a domino effect as I saw them do the same thing.
3. Conquer those brave moments without fear. I entered into the cave of the unknown and climbed boulders that required strength. I could have easily said, “No, not doing it,” but instead I focused on what our guide was telling me.
When I walked out of that 3-mile cave, I never thought going on the trip and conquering something like that would have such a profound effect on me. When I made my way out of that large cave, I cried. The tears that streamed down my face were not the tears of sorrow. They were the tears of courage and confidence.
When you walk through the rivers
Each one of us has caves to scale and rivers to cross. They may not all look the same, but take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. You may be knee-deep in the waters raising kids as a solo parent, dealing with a sick family member, or putting on a brave face with friends when you’re struggling. Regardless of what you are facing, you can be brave and walk on the other side of your challenges stronger and more courageous.
How? Here are a few ideas to help you with whatever you’re facing:
1. Find those friends/wives who have traveled before you. Trying to handle it all is hard and challenging. Seek out others who can offer you support in ways that can help you through rough rivers. “Encourage each other and build each other up.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
2. Be encouraged. When you are afraid of not knowing what do remember to put courage in your bag cause that’s the way to get courage out. “Do not be discouraged for I am with you. (Joshua 1:9 NIV)
3. Remember that you are strong. The fear of a struggle can cause panic. We feel we don’t have the strength to overcome an obstacle or a challenging time. It ’s then we need to shift during those times. To remember to shift our view of ourselves to Christ and to rely on his strength and wisdom. “For God has not given us the sprint of fear, but power love and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
“Courage is not the absence of fear. It’s moving forward despite those fears, trusting in God’s help.”
Right footing required
Our guide and my God knew that the path was not going to be easy. It was going to be rocky, and we would face challenges, including large boulders!
These obstacles reminded me of a verse that I have on a wooden pallet in my home: “He makes my feet of a deer, he causes me to stand on the heights.” (Psalm 18-3 NIV)
This verse reminds me that when I fly into my fear or discouragement whether it be my parenting, caring for a family member or dealing with a struggle in my marriage, God gives me the kind of feet I need at that particular moment.
When I swam into that unknown, our wise guide and God knew it wasn’t going to be a calming excursion.
So often we want our path to be flat, wide and smooth and peaceful. But God says it isn’t like that. Usually, the road is turbulent with a strong wind gust that takes us to unexpected places.
With the right footing that God gives us, we can handle those times of uncertainty and fear. That day in the bathroom I should’ve asked God to provide me with the right feet for the path. Even though I failed to ask, He was gracious enough to give them to me anyway. I just didn’t realize it.
What kind of path are you facing today? Are you trying to venture to the right or the left of where God wants you to be? Or are you asking God that whatever path or cave you find yourself in that you have the right kind of footing to make you bold and courageous?
We all face those boulders and challenges in our lives. Just remember that we’ve all been there. If you’re struggling, you’ve come right place; a place filled with love and encouragement.
Our trip was a lot of fun and Jeff, and I had a great time reconnecting. After our adventure in the cave, he shared this post on his Facebook page… Tiff read ahead on Pinterest while Jeff skimmed some reviews on trip advisor for the ATM (short for long, confusing Mayan sentence) cave tour. She was better prepared than I to swim the river, wade the river, wade the river again, hike a few miles, then go swimming and climbing under over and through crevasses and gymnasium-sized chambers filled with water or Mayan artifacts. They don’t allow cameras in there anymore because people were trying to get good pictures are stupid and literally broke skulls (ancient dead ones mostly). My reward was a beer with lunch. Her reward for being such a brave trooper and holding my hand in the scary cave was dinner at a lovely place. I can afford it here in Belize.
Take-off and Landings Always, Tiffany
Love for you to jump on over to my Facebook page . A place where you find connection, encouragement and learn from one another.