Written by Becky Brown
I’m a tame version of an adrenaline junkie. Ever since I rode my first rollercoaster at a young age, I’ve loved visiting theme parks to ride thrill rides. I used to love riding fair rides, especially those that went upside own or flipped you around. I also loved going to water parks and going down fast and tall slides over and over again. I still enjoy a good rollercoaster and water slide. It’s fun to experience things now with our children. I’ve come to have a healthy fear of fair rides, now that I’ve grown up a bit.
Over spring break, our family went to an indoor water park resort in Charlotte. Our kids have a fascination with youtube videos, and we often watch some on our tv together at home. Their favorites are videos where children are visiting playgrounds or waterparks. They love the POV (point of view) video where it feels like you’re actually going down the slide or climbing through the playground. So, they’ve been asking to go to a waterpark for quite a while. We seized the opportunity to get away for a couple of days.
With young kids, you never know how they’ll respond to amusement parks and rides. Jack is 4 and is usually our cautious child, so I wondered if he would want to ride some of the faster tube slides with the family. Caroline is usually game for any thrill. It had been a little while since I had been on a ride, since our youngest is 1, and riding rollercoasters is generally frowned upon while pregnant. I had forgotten what it felt like to go down hill fast in a controlled fall. I had forgotten the exhilarating feeling of the adrenaline pumping through the body, and the euphoria following the ride.
After getting our bearings in the water park, it was time to go check out the faster slides. Caroline was my first ride buddy, so we when exploring. We rode several moderate slides first and had a blast. She was tall enough to ride all of the slides in the park, so she begged to ride the biggest one there: The Howling Tornado. I was excited to share this experience with her and loved the fact that she has the same curiosity I have for thrill rides. So, we ascended the stairs and made our way into our raft to give it a try. When we boarded the raft, the lifeguard situated the two of us in the raft strategically so our weight distribution would be the safest. I appreciated the safety measure, especially considering my precious 6 year old was on board, but quickly had doubts when I realized I would be riding the whole slide backwards! Off we went, and then in no time, our raft went straight down for what seemed like forever, until we dumped out into this huge funnel and slide all the way up the side of it! We toggled back and forth until we went down the rest of the slide to the exit. I’ve not been that scared in years! My heart leapt out of my chest. I was shocked by the fear I felt because I didn’t used to get that scared with those types of rides. Maybe it was the fact that I went backwards and couldn’t see what was coming. Maybe it was because I had my first born baby in the ride with me; a that was pretty intense for her little body. Whatever it was, I needed a break after that one! Yet, when we exited the raft, Caroline was ready to go again right then! She had the hunger in her eyes for more. She is like her mommy – an adrenaline junkie. So fun.
With experiences like these, we often respond two ways. We are either bold and seek out the thrill, or we are cautious over-thinkers who talk ourselves out of the experience. As I’ve aged and matured, I’ve become more cautious. Maybe it’s because I’ve experienced more in the world and know what mistakes could happen. Maybe it comes with the responsibility of having children. I wonder if our faith journeys are somewhat like this. When we start out, we might be more likely to try new things, experience new opportunities for spiritual growth, or take bold leaps of faith. Then, over time, we become more cautious and less ready to “go for it” because our fear or responsibilities in life get in the way. When I think of those times in my own faith journey where I’ve experienced the power of the Holy Spirit and have known God’s presence in a profound way, there is a unique feeling associated with those moments. It’s similar to the “heart out of my chest” moments on a thrill ride. Sometimes it might feel scary to trust God, or sometimes it’s hard to give up control of our lives because that’s more comfortable. Sometimes we have to take the leap of faith and jump into the raft going backwards, not knowing what is coming next or where we will end up. Faith requires trust, a trust that relies on God’s provision and care. We don’t travel to amusement parks every day, only once in a while. When the opportunity arises, and you find yourself given the opportunity to follow Jesus’ leading, I hope you’ll give the ride a chance, and take the journey with God.