I’ve not told many people my whole story, but I feel that God is urging me to find the freedom from my past and allow His glory to shine through my story.
When I was nine years old, I went with my family for vacation at a dude ranch in Colorado. I had always dreamed of being a cowgirl and loved the majesty of horses. This place in Colorado was my favorite place on earth. One crisp morning, my dad, sister, and I went on a breakfast trail ride with dozens of other ranch guests. We ate a delicious ranch style breakfast and sang songs enjoying the beautiful creation we were surrounded by. Soon we were getting ready to head back. We mounted our horses and were about to set off when one horse suddenly got spooked. The horse reared back and its rider panicked, pulling the reins back even more. The horse’s back legs hit a huge rock and then tumbled back falling on the rider.
Immediately, I was overcome with terror and cried to get off my horse. My dad jumped off his and came to get me down. I was suddenly sick and my dad rushed me to the bushes where I continued to be sick. My body tensed up and I went into a severe panic attack. Neither my dad nor I knew what was happening as I had never experienced this level of fear before. He stayed with me, trying his best to comfort me and ask what was going through my mind. I was in somewhat of a shock and could not do much except cry and tremble.
The rest of the group was ready to go back and called out to my dad and I to come on. I begged my dad to not make me get back on the horse. He agreed, and as he walked me back to the group, he explained that he and I would just ride in the wagon back to the ranch. They said that we couldn’t because the wagon had already left and our horses needed to be ridden back. There was one wrangler who had driven his truck with all the cooking supplies and he was still packing up. My dad requested that I be able to ride with the man back to the ranch. They agreed, but said my dad had to ride his horse back and pull mine behind his. After a bit of arguing, my dad agreed. He asked if I was ok, and I was just so confused and terrified.
I begged my dad not to leave me, but he said he had to. So, he got up on his horse and rode off with the others, glancing behind him to blow me a kiss and say I would be ok, that he’d see me back at the ranch.
I remember crying and feeling so scared and sick. My dad was gone, and I was alone in the Colorado forest with a man I didn’t know. My fear was interrupted by the wrangler telling me to get in the truck. I did as he asked. Then as we were about to leave the clearing we had eaten in the truck stopped because the gate to the road had been locked. He got out of the truck and tried to swing it open, but the lock had been placed on it. He got back in the truck and told me that we would have to walk the few miles back. I panicked.
Looking around, I saw that there was a path around the gate through a few trees. “Can’t we just drive through those trees, around the gate?” “No those big rocks there will ruin the new tires I just got. Come on, let’s go its a long way and your dad will be waiting for us.”
“Please, I can’t walk that far. I don’t feel good. Please can’t you just try. We can move the rocks, see?” I begged him as I walked to try and roll the bigger stones out of the way.
“No, I’m not going to ruin my tires. Come on.” And with that he began to walk down the dirt road back to the ranch.
I was so mad. He didn’t understand what I was feeling and how scared I was. He knew I was sick and scared, but he did not care. He cared more about his tires than about a terrified little girl.
We began the long trek back to camp. I remember him trying to make conversation but I was so tired and upset that he didn’t care that I didn’t answer back more than a word or two. Finally after a couple of hours of walking we got back to the stables. My dad was not there.
The wrangler asked me if I knew the way back to my cabin. I told him yes, and he said bye as he walked into the stable.
As I left him, I let the tears flow freely again. Where was my dad? Why hadn’t he waited for me? Why had he left me? Why didn’t anyone care about me? I hiked up the mountain about half a mile to my family’s cabin. There my dad opened the door asking where I had been. I told him the whole story, but so tired and emotionally exhausted I just collapsed into my bed. For a week I didn’t eat and continued to have horrendous pains in my stomach. My father finally took me to the ER, where doctors had no idea what was wrong. They told my dad it was all psychological. We left Colorado and I came back home with a new life.
Panic attacks and getting sick became almost a daily trial for me. School and new situations were terrifying to me. My family sent me to counselors and psychologists, none of whom understood what I felt inside. I could never get them to understand, and they all thought my story was too bizarre.
The Lord has brought me SO far since that day. However, this past week the Lord brought this event back to the forefront on my mind. He had me walk through it to see that that day many of the lies I still believe today took root.
That single event led that nine-year- old me to believe three main lies that I still struggle with:
1. No one cares how you feel.
2. You have to take care of yourself.
3. God will abandon you in your greatest time of need.
These lies have defined much of my life and many of the struggles I have faced. The first lie came from the man with his truck. I saw in that moment that his material possessions were more important than me. That rooted the lie of feeling unimportant and unvalued. The second lie came from when I had to try and persuade the wrangler to drive his truck through the trees, but also when he left me to hike up back to my cabin. I felt a spirit of independence rise up in me, that I could take care of myself because no one else cared to. And then perhaps the most detrimental lie to my life, was that God would leave me when I most needed him, as my earthly father did.
I have lived for almost 15 years with this fear, this underlying belief that when I am in need, God will hear my prayers, but he will leave it up to me to find the solution. When I get that panicked feeling, I feel like I have lost all control and there is no one that can help me. It is a feeling of complete helplessness and hopelessness.
But what a lie! Oh brothers and sisters, what a lie I have allowed myself to believe for so long. But no more. I have heard God declare his desire for my freedom from these chains, and I choose this day to believe that He will rescue me.
He showed me Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong, be bold, don’t be afraid or frightened of them, for ADONAI your God is going with you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
You see the truth of this whole story of mine is that Jesus never did leave me. He was with me even that day that all of this happened. He had not left me. He was by my side the entire time. I was not aware of it, but He was. He was faithful to me before I realized it. And I know that whatever comes in the future He will never abandon me. He will not forsake me in my weakness.
This is his promise, and it seen throughout ALL of Scripture.
“…the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
“He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matt. 28:20
“Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.” Josh. 1:5
His promises are true. I can believe them. He will not wave goodbye to me with a smile and a kiss. He will stay by my side no matter the trials. He will not abandon my soul.
He is doing a new work in my life. He is breaking the chains that have held me back from “life to its fullest.” (John 10:10) I ask for your prayers, that I may not give way to fear, but rather that God will continue to perfect my faith in Him.
Also, I pray that if you struggle with fear and anxiety that the Lord would deliver you as well. Ask God to take you back to the moment that fear was allowed into your heart. Ask Him to show you where Jesus was when that happened. Close your eyes, open your heart and allow the Spirit to show you where Jesus was in those moments that forever changed your life. I guarantee that you will see He was there all along and always will be. Brothers and sisters, HE WANTS US TO BE FREE. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Gal. 5:1).
We are important to God. He does not overlook us or our needs. I leave you with this beautiful reminder:
“Nothing is too big for God’s power, and nothing is too small for God’s love.”