Anxiety is often brought on by specific phobias. In my life, I’ve had my fair share irrational fears. Many of those fears I have worked to dispel over time. But others still remain. One of my most stubborn phobias that to this day I haven’t been able to overcome or fully understand is my fear of crossing elevated bridges over large expanses. I’m particularly apprehensive of traveling across structures rising high into the sky and navigating several miles over bodies of water or broad canyons. The majority of bridges do not cause any panic within me whatsoever. But there are a handful of behemoths in this country that I’ve encountered while on the road that strike fear directly into my heart. Honestly, I can make myself shake with anxiety looking at photos of those select few marvels of engineering that most people would simply gaze at in awe. My phobia of such structures is something that I certainly hope to defeat before I die. If I continue to make efforts to avoid the things that intimidate me, I’ll never cross over into new opportunities to explore the limitless life that I’ve been provided at its full potential.
Recently I was given the opportunity to begin taking the steps to develop a new, fulfilling venture in my life. And as often is the case when promising circumstances arise for me, shortly after receiving the news I began to feel the pokes and prods of the devil. He seems to delight in his efforts to steer me off course when I’ve proven by my actions that I am ready to follow my calling in faith. It’s in these moments that he perceives me as a real threat to his schemes. And he seems to begin working overtime to distract me, preying upon my weaknesses and tempting me to retreat. I’m thankful that today I am mindful enough to recognize the threat that he poses so that I am able to deal with him accordingly. In the past it wasn’t always easy for me to identify his efforts to discourage my progress, and as a result I stumbled time after time in converting meaningful opportunities into success.
I’ve found in my life that the time that I am most vulnerable to attack is during my sleep. When in the grips of a period of extreme panic and anxiety, I have always suffered the most when retiring to bed. During the day I’ve been able to manage my outcomes far more effectively. If panic arose unexpectedly, I knew that I had the necessary strategies in place to deal with it accordingly. I was never ill prepared. I understood by result of my experiences what steps I needed to take to calm my mind and body and restore my balance. But during periods of “rest” I was never able to react in the same manner. A strike delivered during sleep was something that I was never skilled at handling. It always caught me off guard, causing me to shake, sweat, and gasp for air as I awoke to the sensation that I was dying. It was a terrible experience each and every time. And as I got better at dealing with anxiety during my waking hours, nighttime attacks became the weapon of choice of the devil who sought to keep me in bondage.
The evening that I received the promising news of my newest venture, I was forced to encounter evil in my sleep in the form of a terrifying dream. I believe that this was one of the devil’s last ditch efforts to discourage me from moving forward and perhaps crossing a bridge over into new opportunities in my life. The vision was clear. I don’t know how I managed to arrive there, but I found myself laying along the edge of the road in the middle of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco. I remember feeling the air being torn from my lungs as I peered to my left to see a fog covered San Francisco Bay hundreds of feet below. I was terrified. My legs felt completely weak and my knees buckled as I made an effort to move from the shoulder and look out ahead. Seeing nothing but endless road and fog awaiting me in the distance, I crouched back down and held tight to my position. I was too scared to move. I was trapped by my anxiety, and I felt that there was no other option but to resign to defeat. So I somehow channeled my brain and caused my mind and body to awake in order that I could allow myself to escape the situation. When I opened my eyes, I felt relieved to return to the sense of normalcy that I needed, but discouraged by my willingness to quit in the face of fear and seemingly overwhelming circumstances.
So last night before I went to bed, I prayed that God would give me the strength to stand up to any fears that were presented in my sleep so that I could actively fight for my freedom from bondage. I don’t want to allow the devil the opportunity to pray on my mind while I am at rest. I need to be a warrior in my dreams during the nighttime hours so that I can awake confident and ready to see those dreams through to completion during the days that lie ahead. It may be true that I’ve found myself at a bridge in my life. Perhaps I am crossing over uncharted waters. But I must keep moving despite the unknowns, understanding that fear will inevitably present itself as I challenge the old conditioning that has been prompting me to retreat and quit. I must accept that I may not be able to see far ahead on the road that I am traveling and that I may very well need to encounter some things that I’ve avoided for my entire life. It’s not going to be easy journey. But it’s one that I can most certainly make in faith. I will see myself through to the other side. And perhaps that’s where my future will reside.
If you are facing a bridge in your life, don’t be afraid to cross it. I’ve found that the expectation of the turmoil ahead is always simply a trick utilized by the devil to discourage your efforts and keep you in bondage. Navigating the crossing is far less overwhelming than what a fearful mind may deem. And the reward that awaits you at your destination is tremendous. Life offers a far different perspective at the other side of bridge. So saddle up and head across. Enjoy the freedom that awaits you.
May God Bless!