Their marching into position rivaled a perfect Radio City Rockettes line, but besides the synchronization and matching body types, their similarities ended there. Instead of bright, sequined leo’s on tall, lean physiques, these Russian women wore beige canvas-y dresses cut just below the knees and snuggly fit on their short, squat bodies. In lieu of expertly coiffed hair and makeup, they were barefaced, some with what I could swear were 5 o’clock shadows. One thing I will give them; as easily as the Rockettes can float their legs up with those high kicks, these barge-like train attendees could hoist up the heaviest of suitcases like they were pillows.
A rainy night on a train platform in Moscow, just weeks before the fall of Communism, I was a young college student traveling with a performing group. In a country that had forbidden Christ, these drill sergeants sure knew how to strike the fear of the God in all of us. Laughter was a hidden memory to them as they stood at attention barking out passengers’ ticket numbers, directing people to board their respective trains. I remember thinking,
“Whatever you do, do NOT board the wrong train
Because once you get on,
There is no getting back off!”
Have you ever stepped on to a train going the wrong direction, or even exited on to a freeway going south when you meant to travel north? It’s frustrating because you don’t have the option to simply spin around and immediately make up for the mistake. Even though you’re so tempted just to JUMP, you’re a captive at the mercy of the track or the road as you helplessly wait for the next available exit…and then you have to spend the extra time to backtrack just to get back to your starting position.
I don’t know about you, but I do this WAY too often in my own mind. I step on a train of thought in my head that is headed downward when I really want to think upward. This is especially true when it comes to fear. The other night my husband was very late coming home from work, and as I waited in bed wondering why he hadn’t sent a text, I slid on the Tragedy Train. Before I knew what was happening, I was getting “the call,” having to tell our girls that daddy was never coming home, then planning a funeral and entering into my new life as a bereaved widow. I literally sat up in bed and said, “STOP IT! What are you doing?!?”
I seriously cannot tell you how many times I’ve died in my imagination, and it’s always in the most dramatic and worst possible way. Or how many times I’ve envisioned failing gigantically in a very public way. Or us going bankrupt. Or spiders attacking my unsuspecting slumbering self. Or ninjas pillaging our home. And please, let’s not even stick our toes into the rushing rivers of the child being kidnapped scenario…**shudder**
Great. Now my chest feels tight. I’m actually starting to freak out as I write this. Maybe I should’ve posted a trigger warning at the beginning of this blog??? It's really hard to type while breathing into a brown paper bag.
I used to find myself being whipped around in these runaway trains of thought, feeling completely helpless in my day-and-night-mares of fearful and anxious story lines. Just like the times when I’d exited onto the wrong freeway and had no other choice than to keep driving until a new exit presented itself, I felt captive in my own mind…imprisoned until my mind decided to calm down.
The truth is, we can STOP IT. If we really want to stop the panic attack, stop the imagining, stop the free fall down the pit of fear, we can. I know this because I am proof of it. And if I can do it, you can do it, too.
And if you don’t believe me, then believe the God who lives inside of you. He is not freaking out because He holds time in His hands, knows the end from the beginning, and He has promised you that He will work ALL things out for good for those who love Him. That greater is He who lives in you than he that is in the world. That the peace He gives you is not anything like the world can offer and nothing can ever take it away from you.
The Fearless 365 Week Seven Challenge: Stop it! The next time you find yourself careening down a mountain in a runaway train of fearful thoughts, demand of yourself to stop. YOU are the master of your mind, not the other way around! More times than I can count, I’ve ordered myself (out loud) to stop it, or excused myself into the bathroom so I could breathe and pray and remind myself who was in charge. You have the power of God living inside of you…use that power, take control of that train, and begin to steer it upwards to hope and joy and faith.
Here’s a fun video to drive the point home :)