Several years ago I had a bad experience on a horse that has given me a fear of riding them. On top of that, I have fibromyalgia, which makes it difficult to do an activity that is physically straining like horseback riding. Although it would be easy to use those things as excuses to stay away from horses, I have chosen not to. Yesterday I went on a three and a half hour horseback ride – walking, trotting, and galloping. That experience to me shined a light on some important life lessons.
Am I writing this so you will think that I am brave? Absolutely not. To most of you, the idea of horseback riding is probably not that big of a deal and to be truthful, I certainly didn’t feel brave in those moments of facing that fear. I am writing this post to those who live life with limitations – and often for understandable reasons. I want to be an overcomer, and it is important to note that being an “overcomer” isn’t simply a result of an action, but rather an attitude that one chooses to have daily. This is a lesson that I am only recently learning, but it can be applied in countless situations for all of us.
We all have some sort of fear. Whether it is a normal type of fear, such as the fear of heights, public speaking, or falling in love, or a little abnormal, such as the fear of butterflies – we all have an area of our lives that is difficult to face. Not too long ago, I lived my life ruled by fear. I played it safe on nearly every front. However, this is an area of my life that God I have been working hard on breaking. In destroying these fears, there is no way around them but to face them.
Someone that has taught me about facing fears is my ministry partner Nancy. She has a rule for her life – if she is afraid of something, that something is the very thing she must do. She was once afraid of heights, until one day she climbed to a very high place and stayed there until she was not afraid anymore. She carries this mentality in every area of her life, and she is one of the most successful and powerful people I know.
Nancy and I often talk to people about how different we are, and one of her most common statements is, “If Chelsea is afraid of something, I make her do it.” I have a love/hate relationship with that comment, because she challenges me on many levels. However, I can say confidently that I am a different and stronger person today because of the influence that she has had on my life.
Now, it’s not to say that we as humans are invincible. There are certain limitations that we all have, and we have to be smart about how we face them. With fibromyalgia, I might not be able to jump in a kayak and face class 5 rapids within a week like some people can. I may never be able to do that, or it may take me a lot longer to work my way up to that point. The point is not the limitation. The point is the attitude that we carry.
Do we live with an “I can” or an “I can’t” attitude? If you have an “I can’t” attitude, take heart, because you don’t have to stay there. That doesn’t have to be your story. However, get ready to fight the battle for the long haul, because changing that mentality does not come easy and there are no short cuts. Courage is a daily decision as well as is trust: trust in a God who knows no limitation. Think about that for a minute.
Consider this: what are the stories that inspire us? They are the stories of people who have overcome incredible odds to reach a goal. They are those who have walked through terrible circumstances and have come out being a blessing to others. They were at a tactical disadvantage and beat the odds. These stories don’t come by accident. They come through a series of choices; choices to keep pushing through rather than giving up or giving in. Think about Helen Keller. She went from being a deaf and blind child who could not communicate with anyone to not only earning a bachelor’s degree, but also to being a world renowned author and speaker. And she is just one example.
I also look at her life and see how she didn’t reach those places alone. Helen’s teacher Anne Sullivan played a significant part in breaking through the barriers and encouraging Helen to reach beyond what anyone had reached before. If we dig deep enough, in every inspirational story there are many comrades behind the scenes that are indispensable. It is important for all of us to surround ourselves with people that lift us up and encourage us to keep reaching higher. We should also never downplay our encouraging role in the lives of those around us, but seek to build others up every chance we get.
The best news? Your story isn’t over. It is just beginning. You may never be world-renowned at anything and your struggles may seem small compared to those around you. Learn to let go of the comparison game. It is not the size of your limitation that determines the victory nor is it the level of success once you get there; it is the size of your resolve to overcome and the positive and joyful spirit you carry along the way. It is about the size of your trust in God’s ability to show His strength through your weakness. Philippians 4:13 says, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” It is not about the obstacle that you are overcoming; it is about your daily and consistent attitude to be everything you were created to be.
I would say with 99.9% certainty that every person reading this can identify at least one area in their lives where they need to apply the “overcomer” spirit. Each one of us has a Goliath that we are facing. Each one of us feels inadequate at some point in our lives. However, the Bible says that we have everything we need to live lives that glorify God. So why are so many of us still living in defeat? Preaching to myself here – let’s change this story! It starts with the small decisions – like facing a fear of horses or heights – and soon moves into the bigger areas. Who you are – your character – determines your actions. Determine to live a life of inspiration, because you know how it goes – one flame lights another, and that flame lights another, and it continues on and on until the whole world is aglow.
It is also important to note here that this mindset isn’t anti-Christian; it is absolutely spot-on Biblically – as long as our motivation, inspiration, and goal is Christ. Jesus died to give us victory. When we are fully surrendered to Him, God places us strategically where we have maximum influence. An inspirational and contagious life is a natural result of a love relationship with Christ. A confident and overcoming attitude is not the antonym of a humble heart. Jesus Himself told us to shine brightly. So do it. Send your fear right back to the devil where it came from. Walk in the light you have received and show the world what it means to live a life without limitations.