On the occasional Thursday, I invite guest writers, pastors, therapists, and practitioners to step in and discuss their process of recovery–recovery from any old thing. Today, welcome Deidra Riggs, writer, speaker, and author of the new book Every Little Thing. Deira is powerful voice, a beautiful soul, and an all-around good person. When she’s not skydiving solo, you can find her Jumping Tandem (her blog). Follow her on Twitter. You’ll be glad you did.
And if you’d like to win a copy of Every Little Thing, leave a comment below. We’ll choose two lucky winners on Friday!
Without any further adieux, welcome Deidra to the Recovery Room.
Finding the Pathway Through Fear
A note before beginning: I still get tripped up by fear. I don’t share these words with you as a fear-conquering expert. I am far from that. In truth, I envision myself sitting right in the trenches with the rest of my brothers and sisters who sometimes get startled when things go bump in the night. Sometimes, fear gets the best of us, doesn’t it? And sometimes, we find our way through it, to the other side.
The best way to get through fear (and I say “through” on purpose, because I suspect many of us will never really get over or even out of it; fear will always rise up to meet us as we make our way on the journey) is to press yourself right up to the very edge of the drop-off and then go one very small step further—right out into what looks like absolute nothingness from your current vantage point.Trust is the pathway through fear.
If trust is the pathway through fear, what is the pathway to trust? Trust is not a passive activity. It is not a spectator sport.
We build up our trust in God over days and weeks and months and years, by following him through one small event after another, after another. We have done this trust-building thing with family members and with friendships and with our spouses and our bosses and employees. Over time, in all of these relationships, the trustworthiness of each of the significant people in our lives has been tested, through different situations and circumstances.
It happens quite naturally. We get sick and we learn that we can trust our spouse to care for us in the darkest hours of the night, without complaint and with hands that offer tender consolation. We are assigned a new project at work, and we learn that we can trust our employer to provide the needed resources and to mentor us through the parts of the project that lead us into uncovered territory. We purchase a new house, and we learn that we can trust our friends to show up with their strong backs and their pickup trucks and their extraordinary packing and organizing skills.
Our friendships and our marriage and the confidence with which we navigate our roles in the workplace are built, over time and through various experiences together, on the trust we find in one another. One small exchange after another helps us know where we can find our footing. We craft a history together, and it tells a tale of faithfulness and love and trustworthiness.
However, in these relationships with other human beings, the reverse is also true. Not every relationship is strong on trust. We learn where we can lean the heaviest, and we learn where to back off or step up to fill in the gap. We figure out exactly where we need to take the lead, and we discover when we need to look for help in other places. Sometimes, we even realize it’s time to walk away.
It’s easy to look at God and navigate your relationship with him in the same way you navigate those relationships where trust is hard to find: bracing against disappointment, keeping track of who did what to whom, or feeling like the only person you can really trust in this relationship is you.
One year, in the midst of a particularly dark season of life, I felt compelled to somehow commemorate each occasion where it was clear to me that God was at work in my life or in the world around me. Through a series of events I no longer remember, a small garden planter filled with stones appeared on our front porch. When I decided to mark the moments where God had come through for me, I thought I would take one of the stones from that planter and place it on a tree stump just outside our back door. I didn’t have high hopes for this particular project. I thought the moments of God’s goodness in my life were nonexistent, so I had no aspirations of any noteworthy results taking place from this particular project. In retrospect, I can tell you I was underestimating things. Indeed, I was underestimating God.
Before the sun went down that day, I’d made two or three trips from the front porch to retrieve a stone and then through the house and out the back door to deposit that stone on the tree stump, marking a specific moment in time where it had been made clear to me that God was at work in the world, and that God is at work in the world, and that God will be at work in the world, and that I can trust him. Over days and weeks and months and seasons, I continued to mark the moments of God’s faithfulness, and before I knew it, I had a growing pile of stones on the tree trunk. Visitors to our home began to ask about the pile of stones because they were clearly there for a reason. And when I washed the dishes or walked out the back door to water the tomato plants, there it was: proof to me that God can be trusted. God is at work, even when all seems lost and hope is hanging on by a thread.
We build trust in God by putting matters back into his hands, one small moment at a time. We build trust in God by taking one small step in his direction and finding out he will always be there to catch us.
One step is all that’s needed, and you can trust God to take it with you. Before you know it, you’ll have your own pile of smooth stones, piled up in remembrance and inviting you to trust that God goes with you into all things, and the waters will not pass over you.*
*Don’t forget to leave a comment below for your chance to win a copy of Deidra’s book, Every Little Thing.
Deidra Riggs is the author of Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are (Baker Books). She is managing editor at The High Calling, and a monthly contributor to (in)courage. As founder of JumpingTandem, an online community providing grace for the journey, Deidra inspires individuals to join God in the adventure he has uniquely designed for them. Deidra and her husband live in Lincoln, Nebraska. They are the proud parents of two adult children, and happy inhabitants of an empty nest.
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