Have you ever realized that some people just have a keen sense of knowing what they can and can’t do.  They have a confidence about them that radiates.  They think they are capable of more than is humanly possible and they always, always, push the limits (little secret of mine; I’ve always been jealous of these people and their confidence in themselves). Maybe this is you? 

But then there are some people, and this being me, that don’t know what they are capable of until they learn to push through their fear and doubts and do the things that scare them. So which of these two are you?

How do you learn what you are truly capable of doing?

Enter into my life for a minute. The story of my life has been always been an ongoing struggle of trying to find confidence in myself. I constantly doubt myself and my abilities. I’ll always be the first one to say that there is someone else more qualified for the job than me. 

In 2019, I decided I was going to be a whitewater river guide, even though I was the most unlikely person in my family to aspire for this kind of job. I had a huge fear of swimming in rapids, and almost zero experience in the field of whitewater rafting, yet this was the route I chose. Certain circumstances and friendships in my life lead me to make this decision. I had been working at Rock-N-Water for many years for Rock-N-Water’s spring program.  Over the years, this Christian camp had become very dear to my heart, so when the opportunity came to continue working for this camp in the Summer and learn about rafting, I knew I wanted to make this a reality in my life.

Well, the spring of 2019, we had what we call a high-water year. All of the rapids on the river were bigger than big! In order to learn to be a guide I had to swim in the rapids and learn so many new skills.  I thought I was ready. But after a few scary moments on the river during training, I suddenly was gripped by a very real fear. For the first time in my life, I experienced panic attacks and unrest in my mind just thinking about the river. The fear I had was so raw and new, I couldn’t find the strength in myself to face it. I came to a point in the training where I was too scared to get back on the river. The fear was so real, but I also had this deep determination in me to be a river guide. I was not gonna be a quitter.

When I look back to that Summer, I believe my motivation to not give up was propelled by two primary things; One, I had such a strong love and desire to be a part of this camp, and two, I would not accept failure as an option and was determined to push through my fear (It just had to be at my own pace). So slowly, over the course of that summer, I began to push myself to get back on the river. I slowly got more comfortable with swimming and learned how to guide a boat. (A huge shoutout to Eden Morlet who knew just how to push me and scheduled me on river days before I even thought I was ready!)

By the end of that summer, I was officially a river guide! And I cannot explain in words the feeling of accomplishment I had. Becoming a river guide was something I had to work so hard for and pushed through many fears for, it’s an accomplishment in life I’ll always be proud of.

But now let’s fast forward to this last Summer (2022)

This was my fourth year as a river guide and even though I’ve grown a lot as a river guide I began to realize something; I wasn’t getting better. I began watching everyone who started after me pass me up in their skills. It was like I hit a plateau in my skills. And I knew why I wasn’t getting better.  Fear had crept in again. I knew getting better required me to take more risks and do things that scared me. And as hard as I tried, I could not find the motivation or desire to get better because of how much the fear had a hold on me.

Then, at the end of this summer, I went on an overnight rafting trip on the Tuolumne River with a small group of camp friends. This was a bigger river that had class IV rapids and a class V five rapid. The fear in me almost kept me from going on this trip (and also having a broken foot still healing). But I had set a goal for myself that year to at least do one new river and this was my chance! 

The first day on the river I remember sitting in the boat not desiring to guide any of the rapids because I didn’t think I could. When my turn to guide came and the next rapid was a class IV (I’ve only guided class III’s), I took all my fears and all my insecurity and buried them so I could focus on the moment ahead of me. Suddenly I had a newfound confidence and I was not only able to safely maneuver the boat through the rapid, but I had a huge smile on my face because I was having so much fun!  I had unlocked a new level of skill!

I will always view this trip now as the trip that taught me of the things I am capable of doing when I push through my fears. To take charge of a boat and maneuver it safely down a class IV rapid, dogging rocks and hitting each hole right, is something I never imagined I’d ever do. My eyes were suddenly opened to the fact that I am a capable and my doubts were wrong. My fears, though they were real, were keeping me from reaching my full potential.

So back to the beginning of this post

How do you face your fears? Do you charge into them, or do you slowly work at them and push yourself to face them?

To fully know what we are capable of doing, we can’t let our fears hold us back. We need to learn how to look at our fears, and learn from them, but also learn how to face them, push through them, and conquer them. Fears have a purpose and yes, sometimes fears are good and they can keep us from doing stupid things, but one thing I’ve been learning lately is that they can also keep us from truly living and experiencing life to the fullest.

It’s better to do things scared than to not do things at all

I hope that, whatever it is you’re facing, whatever fears you have, you can also learn to push through them and grow from them.

Is fear holding you back from your full potential? What things might God be calling you to do right now that you will just have to do scared in order to follow Him? If you’re scared, know that you are not alone, and don’t let your fears keep you from fully living and doing all that God calls us to do.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9