My husband, Erin, loves to scare people, in fact, he finds great joy in the response he receives when he successfully scares someone. He’s hidden behind doors, under beds, in closets and he’s even climbed inside his Thule luggage rack on top of his truck on a fly-fishing trip so he could grab his comrade’s hands when they opened it! He has scared hundreds of people, including his own mother. When we were engaged, I was living with the delightful Paulson family and Erin was living with the lovely Noble family. We were so blessed to live rent-free with two amazing families during our short engagement period. One night I was home alone studying at the Paulson’s kitchen table while, unbeknownst to me, Erin had seen my car parked in front of their house and had snuck in through the front door. Like a stalking wildcat of some kind, he slinked his way down their hallway until he was literally squatting around the corner of the kitchen counter, spying on me. I can only imagine the sheer delight on his face in the quiet seconds that passed as he realized this would be one amazing scare for the books. He continued to creep up on me until he was literally on all fours directly behind my chair. He then let out a vicious growl.
I screamed and immediately dropped out of the chair onto the floor and let out a loud wail as I stared back at this insane fiancée of mine, who was still on the floor on all fours. He was laughing so hard, tears streaming down his cheeks. I then joined him in tears, but mine were from the fight-or-flight response that had been triggered by the absolute terror. I then cussed him out and slapped his arms and chest a few times while he laughed uncontrollably. “That was not funny!!!” I yelled. “Oh, yes…that was most definitely hilarious…you screamed…you cried!” Erin managed to squeak out in between belly laughs. “No, that was not funny. I could have had a heart attack. You are a freaking psycho!”
That is one of SO many stories I have where Erin has scared me. Early on in our marriage, before I became wise to his ways, I noticed he loved to get home ahead of me when it was dark outside. I’d open the front door and say, “Hi Babe, I’m home!” I wouldn’t hear a response at first, then I’d hear the sound of heavy breathing, like the kind the freaky-ass creature made in the Alien movies. Dark, sinister, heavy breaths. “Erin?” Dark, sinister, heavy breaths. “Where are you?!” I’d start to look around the house just like the token idiotic teenage girl in a horror movie who was about to get her ass murdered. Of course, he’d pick the best place and pop out and scare the crap out of me. I hate being scared. I don’t think it’s fun. I truly cry or crumple into a ball when I’m scared. I learned over time to simply yell when I entered our home, “Ok, jackass. I’m not moving one step further in this house until you come out.” Dark, sinister breaths. “Erin!!! I mean it! Come out NOW!” Dark, sinister breaths and a small chuckle. Time to up the ante. “I will kick you in the balls if you scare me. I’m done with this crap! I will not have sex with you for like a month! I’m serious!!!” Chuckles grew to laughs and he would appear. Victory was mine!
I can laugh about the times Erin has scared me on purpose now. Sometimes I can laugh about the times when I allowed fear to get the best of me throughout my life. I can ask myself, What were you so afraid of? There are other instances, however, that I can’t laugh about it. Those are the worst and I have a long list of them. Some of my fears make me sad, make me feel defeated, make me feel ‘less than,’ like a complete coward. The fear of not fitting in has kept me from trying to pursue new friendships. The fear of not being known or seen has kept me in the background or in my house. The fear that creeps in when I feel disconnected in my relationship with Erin entices me to put up a wall so I won’t get hurt. The fear of disappointing people has led me to perform for their approval. The fear that I somehow missed out on something big God had intended for my life makes me question if doing “big things” is lost in my past.
Sometimes the fears are quieter…like Erin’s weird alien breaths. Sometimes they’re obvious and loud, like the amazon cat roar he did. If I let them be, they’re both paralyzing in their forms, no matter their volume. They also go quiet when I ignore them–when I choose to dream, believe, risk and act out in the love I’m called to. This year, I’ve chosen to believe God at His word when He said, Do not fear, and when He told me, To be strong and courageous. I don’t think God wants me to miss out on what’s on the other side of my fears. So, I bought a key from The Giving Keys with the word FEARLESS on it. I wear it every day, because it’s a declaration, a way for me to keep intentionally opening my heart up when I want to shut it down.
I think there are some sacred places where God helps us push through our fears. Often, these places are where you get to be in your glory; meaning they are where you feel alive, feel free, feel fully yourself. The mountains are my sacred place. I’ve dealt with lightning storms on the Continental Divide and solo overnight hikes on my quest to conquer all of the peaks over 14,000 feet in elevation in Colorado. I feel afraid sometimes, but the freedom and joy I feel in this environment overthrows the fear. I imagine actors and dancers feel this way on the Broadway stage.
This past summer, I climbed James Peak in honor of a friend of mine whose incredible mother is battling cancer. I made a sign in honor of them to raise above my head when I summited the top of the snow covered peak. The steepness of the slope at times felt a little hairy, and while I had an ice axe at my side, I still felt a little afraid. Then I thought about the fear my friend and her family might be feeling that morning in the situation with her mother–the fear her mom might be feeling. I’d firmly kick another step in the snow. Not today, fear. I’d keep climbing. I’m not going to quit. Not today, fear. The purpose of getting to the top wasn’t for my glory, or to say, “Look at me.” Instead, it was to bring glory to my friend and her mama and the love God has for them in the midst of this day. This very day. To fight for a breakthrough in this particular situation. I felt like the Lord asked for me to show them that He sees them and that His love for them is extravagant. I’ve found that seeing the purpose helps me choose courage, which ultimately deafens my fears. When I see why it’s worth being brave, it helps push through the fear. It did this day on my snowy peak climb.
I have two kids now who are watching their mama navigate this life. I don’t want them to look at me and say, “Wow, our mom was afraid of everything.” Instead, I want them to look at me and say, “My mom might have felt afraid, but she tried it. She went after it. She didn’t quit. She was a badass in that way.” Everleigh is my now seven-year-old daughter who looks identical to me when I was her age. She loves animals and wants to be a vet–I did too when I was her age. She is an introvert, but has a fun dramatic flair that comes out when she’s comfortable. Yup, that’s me! She is my mini-me. Out of my two kids, she’s also the one who is afraid the most. I don’t want her to be afraid. It angers my mama heart to see her allowing fear to keep her from stepping into sweet places. We set out to have a mother-daughter climb of Mt. Sherman in July and the weather was far from ideal. I was worried she’d be too cold, we’d get rained on, or she’d ask herself, Why am I doing this? And I heard a voice say, Adge, at least you’re trying.
The moment I think of so often from that day was when we reached a snowy slope that led to the saddle just below the peak. It was pretty early, so the snow was a little hard. I had Everleigh above me in such a way that I’d support her with each step she made. I watched her tiny legs make kick steps in the snow with all her might. I’d make my big kick steps just below hers on the slope. I marveled at her tiny footprints and how fierce she was that day. Courageous. She was in her glory moment, kicking steps like a tiny boss and being steadfast in her pursuit of going further. I found that fear had no place in this moment, in this hour, in this day. This day was for me and my daughter and the glory of being up above the clouds, together, making our steps.
I hope you feel God meeting you in your fears, whether it’s on a mountainside or in your home. I hope you feel the strength to say, “Not today, fear!” and keep making those purposeful, brave kick steps in your life. I promise there’s something worth it on the other side.
Colorado Springs, CO
Adge is an adventurer by heart, climbing 14ers (mountains over 14,000 ft high) and simply being in the wilderness refills her cup. She married a man who shares that passion with her, Erin, and together they have three children, Everleigh, Finnley, and Bodie. Adge has a huge heart for women. She works as a labor & delivery nurse, loves one-on-one conversations, and lattes with intricate foam designs!