I have never been a huge fan of roller coasters.
I remember growing up, there was this theme park called Valleyfair near our house. And various school field trips or church functions would take me there. I eventually gained enough courage to do the smaller rides, always thankful that I found a friend or two that was less inclined to the stomach-drop roller coasters. One year, however, I was feeling a bit more ambitious. I think you could blame it on the boy I liked and was trying to impress/spend every ounce of my time with, you know how that goes ;) Regardless, I worked up the nerve to go on a roller coaster. And not just any – oh no, the biggest one in the park, named “Wild Thing”. I was sick to my stomach with nervousness and I gripped the safety bar that say across our laps like my life depended on it…but I made it. I survived, and if you’ve ever gone on a roller coaster, perhaps you know the adrenaline that comes after making it through something like that. Though I was still pretty shook, part of me even wanted to go again, just because I conquered it and I knew I could do it again. I just felt, for lack of a better word, ALIVE.
Life is often compared to a roller coaster, and I’m finding that ironically accurate more and more. There’s ups and downs, sometimes you enjoy it, sometimes all you can do is hold on and wait for things to get better.
Perhaps this will only stick with my roller coaster-averse pals, but try to follow with me. The thing is, I went on that roller coaster again. That same day, and in the years to come. It never really got easier for me, even though I knew what was coming. I knew what to expect, and that fact seemed to make me grip onto the lap bar even tighter, as if my grip could change the outcome of the ride. Each time, I chose to sit down and buckle up, even though I wanted to get off as soon as the carts began to chug up the first drop.
This year has been a very intense roller coaster for me. There have been great highs and deep lows financially, relationally, mentally, and physically, which have all led to highs and lows emotionally. And if my roller coaster experience has taught me anything about life, it’s that the ride is inevitable.
Here’s the best part, though – by God’s grace alone, I’ve survived it. Heck, I’d even say I’m thriving. In each valley, He’s given me strength and grace to keep holding on, and in each mountain, He has given me humility and just the same amount of grace to appreciate it.
So I thought – what if, instead of gripping onto the safety bar so tightly as if it will change my circumstances, we relaxed and just enjoyed the ride? Maybe then we would notice the wind whipping through our hair, and open our eyes to see the sun shining on our faces.
If you’re in the middle of a dip in life’s roller coaster right now, I’m here with you and for you. The beauty of it is that it truly doesn’t last forever. And when we’re living life with eyes open and aware to the little blessings of each day, I’ve found God can really blow us away. So I wanted to leave you with just one Bible verse that I’ve had as my lock screen since this summer. It’s been a rock of encouragement for me.
“You prepare a meal for me
in front of my enemies.
You pour oil of blessing on my head.
You give me more than I can hold.”
~Psalm 23:5, ICB
In the ESV translation, which I usually read, this reads, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” I find the ICB translation absolutely beautiful. Even when I face my “enemies” (hard circumstances, etc), God is there with me and He gives me more blessings than I can even hold in my hands. How beautiful.
I hope this verse can be as sweet of an encouragement to you as it has been to me. And I hope that wherever you’re at in life’s roller coaster, you enjoy the ride.