The Maze of My Life: Part 9, Getting Tricked

I followed her, and at last we were at the end of the maze.  The only thing that stood in between me and the door were these huge, ginormous, super tall, gigantic, humongous, really tall statues.

They were scary, scary, scary.  They were these tall statues of that Egyptian god that’s a dog or something.  I can’t remember if they had those Egyptian always-awake side-eyes or not.  But I was petrified they were animatrons.

I would not go forwards.  I was so close to the end.  I didn’t want to give up, but I was terrified.  My dad couldn’t wheel me anymore.  He tried to inspire me by saying something like, “Look, you can see the outside.”  And he was right.  The bright, sunny, warm, happy day was streaming into this last abysmal corridor of the maze.

There was an attendant nearby, and my mom went up to her and asked her if the statues moved.  Mom told her I had a terrible fear of animatrons.  The attendant said they did not move.  I watched people exit with no problems.  And I didn’t believe the attendant would lie when she had to see how scared I was.

Well.

I have a lot of fears.

The dark, holographic pterodactyls, animatronic arms, and foam mummies hanging from ceilings, apparently.

And then I have the big fears.  And one of the high-rollers is getting tricked.

As a kid, I could not watch suspense movies.  I would become hysterical at the least bit of surprise.  Here’s a true story: at age 12 or so, I actually hyperventilated because of a movie.  The movie?  While You Were Sleeping.  Now, for those of you who don’t know the movie, you may be thinking it’s a horror and that I somehow made sense.  But for those of you who know I’m talking about the chick flick with Sandra Bullock, you could understandably think, “Huh?”  But I bet you can guess why I was so upset.  In the movie, Sandra’s character falls in love with a guy, but while he’s in a coma, she falls in love with his brother.  At the wedding altar, she goes for the brother.

I felt tricked.  And mad.

I don’t really have too many stories of getting tricked.  I’ve had a few times.  Mostly, though, I just wait in fear for it to happen.

I have always had an especially astute awareness of the possibility for trickery.  I’m good about spotting corners where something could be lurking and figuring out how a seemingly harmless object could harm me.

So in a mummy maze already responsible for an animatronic hand, I was very suspicious of tall, black, and very unfriendly looking Egyptian dog statues.  Especially because they looked unfriendly.  Did you know they looked very unfriendly?

I thought it was kinda crazy to believe that statues so tall could actually move.  They looked like they were made out of solid wood.  But because I am the kind of person who worries about the irrational, I worried.

I was so worried, in fact, I froze.  I did not know whether to trust my mom’s power to persuade the attendant not to scare me or to go back and find the red exit sign.  I was afraid to go backwards.  I was afraid I would be ashamed afterwards, and I was afraid to have to go back to any part of that dreary maze.  I wanted out–now.  And the sunlight was all heaped up at the doorway like light’s laundry.  Even in the most frightening part of the maze–the path in between me and the doorway–the light touched.

I looked at the statues again, and it didn’t really make any sense at all that they could move.  This wasn’t that high dollar of a maze.  Why would I ever think such a ridiculous thing?

I walked past those really tall, humongous, gigantic, super tall, ginormous, huge statues, and I was keeping a close eye on the one closest to me.  And right when I got to where, if I took one more frightened step, I would be right in front of it–that thing started walking towards me.

I about needed a heart transplant–for my own heart to be taken out of my throat and put back in my chest.

Getting tricked is something I do not enjoy.

And I don’t enjoy it, either.

I don’t trust my eternity on the kindness of an Egyptian ‘god’ dog, but instead to a Savior who rescues me without duplicity.

And Jesus said to them, Take care that you are not tricked by anyone. People will come in my name, saying, I am he; and a number will be turned from the true way. (Mark 13:5-6, BBE)

Christ never committed any sin. He never spoke deceitfully. (1 Peter 2:22, GW)

[God] is my Rock, there is no deceit in him. (Psalm 92:15b, BBE)

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Swing

Last summer I went to a local theme park a few times with friends.  One of the rides in the park is a giant swing.

I already had a terrible fear of heights going into it, but when I looked up at that swing in full motion, I felt like a wire had been pulled loose in my brain.  I felt brain sick watching it.  I have a history of motion sickness on rides and even in the car, but this was like mental motion sickness.

I kept staring up at it.  I was somehow mesmerized by the terror of it.  A “tray” of people was suspended from the swing, and the tray would slide forwards and back as the swing went increasingly higher and higher.  At its peak, as best as I can describe it, I felt this pounding pressure in my head.

I wasn’t so much frightened of the ride as I was in shock.  But I had plenty of fright, too.  I tried to imagine myself on it and I was horrified.  The tray slipped forwards and back and it seemed to me that at any minute people were going to slide right out, even though the rational part of my brain told me this wasn’t so.  There was a “test seat”  on the ground in front of the ride, and it didn’t look nearly amazing enough to me to hold someone in a slipping tray on a ride that flew wildly through the air far far far far too high from the surface of the earth.

Now I had gone on a roller coaster not long before this that was 15 stories high.  That’s probably not-so-spectacular as roller coasters go, but here’s the point: this swing ride is 7 stories high.  So why did it terrify me so much more?

I hate roller coasters, but if I had to choose between a 15 story roller coaster and a 7 story swing like that, I would pick the roller coaster.  This is because the roller coaster had a full harness.  I don’t want to ever ride a roller coaster again in my entire life.  But at least the 15 story roller coaster had a full durable plastic harness.  The ride operator yanked it down over me.  It was then my job to yank up on it and yank and yank and yank to ensure it would not fly open, spilling out the contents (that is, me).  I could just see myself getting an operator who didn’t know what he was doing, and me falling out and the friend who dared me to go on it being just fine.  Or, maybe the seat wasn’t working correctly.  It was my job to check.

I was barely satisfied with my yanking, so my friend, a fitness guy, yanked up on my seat to prove it was not going to come up.  (I believe I frantically demanded this.  But these precious seconds before the ride were a blur.)  This made me feel better.  But it was still a horrible experience . . . more afterwards than on the actual ride.

But this swing ride had no harness.  It was one of those bars that go across your waist.  Immediately, I think of ‘one-size-fits-all’ and I worry extremely, because I’m a skinny girl and I am, of course convinced no one as skinny as me has probably ever ridden the ride, and if they did, they were probably flat-stomached, and I probably have a “dippy-in” belly that dips in but the ride attendant won’t know it until I fall out of the ride.

No harness means nothing to grab onto.  That is just like . . putrifying, really.  Your legs dangle loose and your arms dangle loose.

If I were to go on a ride like that, I would want 94 belts and bars strapped around me, plus a cage, plus multiple poles anchoring the swing to the ground, plus the ride going about 10 feet in the air, very slowly.  That would be plenty scary for me.

Don’t be dissing my 10 feet.  I’m not 10 feet tall, so it would still be scary.

Anyway, when I got home that night, and laid down, my mind fixated on that swing ride, and I had a terror that bleached my senses.  I had been dealing with tough stuff already, and it was like that ride lit a fire to my panic.  My stress snowballed.  I felt totally out of control.  I kept thinking questions like,

What if I had gone on that ride?

Would I have cardiac arrest?  Would I pass out?  Would I die?

What would it feel like to fall like that, over and over, and not be able to stop the ride?

What if the ride never ended?

I was dizzy and scared my heart was racing and my brain felt like it was blowing a fuse.

On occasion since that night, when I lay down, I imagine that ride again.  I am filled with terror that you understand if you’ve ever had a phobia of something.

I couldn’t find anything to counteract the terror.  Always the fear was the same: being on that ride, helpless, slipping back and forth as the ride flung me up.  Surely I would fall out.  I would have nothing to hold onto.  I always seemed to be on the ride by myself, only empty of seats around me, plenty of room to slip out.  I was all alone, nothing to grab for, my hope slipping out of my seat and falling far, far below me.

Then, one night, when this panic started and I imagined myself on the ride, as I was being flung up with the awful dread of knowing I would soon drop, my legs dangling and my arms pressing on the bar in a hopeless attempt for security . . . I saw someone sitting beside me.  I could see a white t-shirt and pants.  The person’s hands were on the bar, but unafraid.  I could see he was looking at me, but I couldn’t pull my eyes up to look at him.  (I always tuck my head when I’m on a ride with any kind of height, because I’m so frightened.)

I knew who I was picturing.  I was picturing Jesus.  And I realized as I looked at His white t-shirt that He was on this ride with me.  That he had chosen to be there.

I was still very afraid but . . . I wasn’t alone.

I wasn’t alone.

I am not alone.

I will not be alone.

And even if I were on the giant swing, I wouldn’t be alone.

I love you, Jesus.

I love you, Jesus.

I love you, Jesus.

How I love you, Jesus!

You are my very best friend.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. (Psalm 23:4a, NIV)

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