A bright pink wheelchair bumped along a dirt path amid radiant fall colors, but the young woman in the chair was not enjoying the ride. Shifting and fidgeting in her seat, she seemed to be conflicted internally. In a soothing yet firm voice, the man pushing the wheelchair whispered as they navigated the forest trail, “You can’t walk. You’re not strong enough. You need this chair. You need me.” Shoulders slumping in resignation, the woman finally sighed in agreement, “I guess you’re right. I am weak. I do need you.”
Sitting in the audience of the university student film festival that night, I could identify with the woman in the wheelchair. When I returned to the U.S. after four intense and stressful years in Asia, I succumbed to a heavy cloud of depression that lingered for months. Every time I started to think about a new job, moving to a new place, or starting something different, rising dread and panic would keep me in fearful indecision.
Unable to Move
I was emotionally paralyzed, bound by the lies of the enemy. Night after night I tossed and turned in bed, trapped in hopelessness. “Things will never change. I’ll be stuck here forever.”
An invitation to join the Fresh Start Asia ministry trip stirred up painful memories of failed leadership from my previous experiences in Asia. Even though I knew the members of the team cared about me and wanted God’s best for me, I was hesitating. And I was worried that history would repeat itself and I would be hurt again.
Breaking through my anxious thoughts, God spoke to me through Isaiah 43:18-19: “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is!” (The Message). So as I took a step of faith and joined the Fresh Start trip, God began healing my pain from the past and giving me hope for a future different from what I had experienced or imagined.
Victory Over Fear
In the climax of the student film, the young woman realizes that the only thing keeping her in that wheelchair is her fear. She defiantly stands and takes her first hesitating steps, breaking the bonds of worry, doubt, and anxiety. Like the girl in the film, my healing process will take time, and my steps are shaky at first. But I’m so thankful God has liberated me from paralyzing fear and despair and is leading me on the path to freedom!