It is the certain moment when the hero must stand face to face with his greatest fear. The moment he must look into the eyes of the one being who has sworn to crush him. In that moment, the hero must decide whether to cower and run in defeat or stand up tall and push past all fear and doubt to win the battle.
I have often wondered what goes through those heroes minds when they look into the eyes of their adversary. I’m sure reflected in those eyes is the embodiment of the hero's fears and past failures. A wiser man might spend his whole life running from have to meet their foe face to face. Nevertheless, I feel that one cannot experience true triumph until that certain moment.
This dramatic tale leads me to tell you my version of facing my fear. A few months ago, I went to visit Maggie. For those of you who don’t know who Maggie is, Maggie is the horse on whom I had my devastating and calamitous accident on (If you don’t know the story please read THIS). After a long road of hurt and healing in early 2013, I finally got back on a horse in the summer. It was nerve-racking and more discouraging than anything else. Before I had boasted of my great riding abilities, but now I was left fumbling like a elderly sailor trying to regain his long forgotten sea legs. Skills that used to be second nature to me now were challenging and awkward. All the same, the first step to facing my fears was getting back up on a horse. The second was much more disquieting for me. I knew I needed to face Maggie, not to ride her, but simply to look into the eyes of the animal that literally thrown my world upside down sending me crashing to the ground.
At first after my accident, I had been angry with God. How could he have allowed this to happen? Why was he putting me through such a physically and emotionally painful experience? I couldn’t understand why God would permit so much pain and suffering in my life. He was supposed to love me and be my protector. Why hadn’t he protected me from this tragedy?
Then, I became angry with myself. What had I been thinking? Did I really think I was such a good rider to get on such and green and untrained horse? How could I possibly have thought I was ever capable of anything successful? I was a failure and always would be. Self-loathing and bitterness took over.
The healing was long and arduous, but in time I began to get a better idea of what God had intended for me. Never once did I allow myself to think about facing Maggie. How could I? When I thought about the high hopes I had had for her growth and training, the optimism that had filled me at the thought of schooling and cultivating her into a fabulous horse, it only made me feel more like a failure.
Yet in spite of this, the thought of meeting Maggie again hid firmly at the back of my brain. Pawing and snorting her way into my subconscious, daring me to face the apotheosis of my self-doubt and deficiency. Finally, that day came. I did not know what I would feel. Would I be afraid? Would I be overcome with anger? Would I break down in sorrow and cry? What would I feel? I felt an unsteadiness in my chest as I made my way to the barn. This was finally happening. After almost 6 months of avoiding the site where it happened, I was finally returning to the grassy, yellow field where my life had changed.
I pondered to myself, am I a better person then I was before I got on Maggie that day? Have I changed in a favorable way? Sure, I had seen God work in amazing ways through the accident, but when facing Maggie would I still feel that sense of comfort or would it fall to pieces?
When I saw her she was standing at the gate ears perked and eyes on me. She looked so happy and full of life, for a moment I almost could not believe this sweet and gentle horse had intentionally tried to injure me. In truth, I'll never really understand why she threw me so viciously. However, what was more surprising was that in that moment was that I felt the strangest sense of peace come over me. I looked at that dark colored horse and I felt a rightness about the accident and what had come to pass in the time following. I faced her this time standing tall with a villain-like scar branded onto my right collarbone, but very alive and well. All I felt in that moment, was a serenity that could only have come from God. My pain and hardship was eclipsed by contentment in knowing that God doesn’t make mistakes. I was not a failure. God had not abandoned me. In fact, I may even argue (on a good day), that that accident, may have been the very thing that saved me. God shook my world in order to draw me closer to him and reveal himself in a bigger way than anything I could have possibly imagined. Everything truly does happen for a reason.
The Bible says, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” - 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
The fact that I am alive today, walking around with no problems other than a stiff thumb and a jagged pink scar is a miracle. God the Almighty did not allow me to die that day. He permitted the accident, the wound, the damage, and the pain, but all these things were temporary. He also chartered a path for me. He accorded me a path of new life, revelation, and most of all, transformation. No, I am not the same girl who excitedly road out into that field on the bright December afternoon. I have learned more about myself, God, and others through my accident that I ever could have learned otherwise. God saved me from living life with the same unchanging perspective. As I stood there in that same field, with that same horse, I was grateful. What really was reflected in Maggie's immense, dark eyes was not my fears or failures, but rather a transformed me. My hope remains not in myself, or in my abilities, or even in my ambitions. Instead, my hope remains in Him who saved me… likely more times than I can possibly count.
1 John 3:2-3
Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.