You might wonder at a name like Unshaken; what kind of woman stands behind a name like that? Perhaps someone who is confident, successful, a woman who not only has a plan, she has a plan for how she will execute her plan.
That’s not me. I am both easily and often shaking.
Let me tell you a story . . .
I am unsettled by a great many things. Germs. Heights. Threat of harm. Escalators. Those are only a few items on a list of ways to freak me out. Combine any two or more items and watch me come undone.
Last fall my husband’s favourite hockey team moved into a new stadium. All season long he dropped not-so-subtle hints that he’d love to go see them in their new home. When his team who’d spent many seasons at the bottom of the league made the playoffs in the spring, I knew this was a big deal to Rob. But the stadium is a three hour drive away and tickets to games are outrageously expensive. It didn’t seem like it could happen.
Until one day we got a call from Rob’s sister. The Edmonton Oilers were playing out of town but they were televising the game on the massive score clock in the stadium and tickets were only $5! They wanted to meet us there to watch the game on the big screen and I knew we had to make it happen.
My loyalties lie elsewhere, but even I was excited to see the new stadium and enjoy the game with a very enthusiastic crowd in the new home of the Oilers. It seemed like a great idea; it was very exhilarating. Until we made it past security and actually entered the stadium.
The only way to get to our seats was to ride a giant escalator. It was massive. I could see where it started, but I couldn’t see where it ended.
To say I was shaken by the prospect of riding it would be an understatement. There had to be another way! Surely this establishment where it appeared no cost was spared had an elevator to transport those who were not able to ride the escalator to their seats?!
We searched desperately but couldn’t find one anywhere. It seemed my only choice was ride the escalator or sit in the lobby, alone, for the duration of the game. Well, I might scare easily but I don’t quit easily so I determined I would make it to my seat.
I’d suspected it before, that day it was evident some of my issues have passed on to my daughter. We were quite the pair at the bottom of the monstrosity. I tried to motivate her by telling her that even though Mom was scared, she was going to ride it scared. It took some time but Rob and I convinced her to get on the escalator, assuring her Dad would give her his undivided attention. (Rob was hesitant to go this route and divert his attention from me, but I assured him that despite all evidence to the contrary, I was the adult and needed his undivided attention less than she did.) I reminded him that we only have one daughter, but we did have three sons. I would rely on my boys.
I gathered my courage to step onto the escalator and in the time it took, my posse of boys dwindled from three to one. My middle two boys were fast to distance themselves from me and my loud laments. So by the time I stepped on the escalator, my oldest son was beside me and my brother-in-law was behind me, and that was it. I don’t know who was more scared of the potential outcome of the ride: Me, my son, or my brother-in-law!
The first couple of feet went fairly well. I talked myself through the experience, attempting to manage my issues. It didn’t last long. There was no way to distract my brain from the fact that I was riding a combination of metal grinding teeth and gears up into the air. I began to panic because there was no way off this death trap – except to throw myself over the side and that wasn’t going to happen! I had no choice but to let the beast carry me ever higher on a path I wasn’t even sure would end.
I started crying and shaking. I was too scared to look up and see how much further I had to go, but I was just as scared not to, because I wasn’t sure I could hang on without knowing an end was coming. So every couple of seconds I would shout loudly at my brother-in-law, “John, how much further.”
I’m sure he didn’t know what to do with this mess he’d inherited through marriage. He didn’t give me a straight answer, probably scared I’d faint dead away if I knew the truth. I’m sure he was much more frightened by me than by any escalator, yet he was gracious with me. He didn’t ignore my cries and pretend he didn’t know me. He didn’t give in to his own fears that I might indeed faint and land on top of him. The whole way up that long ride he consistently assured me he was right there and he would catch me if I fell. (Land sakes that is courage!)
Fear is a funny thing. That night I realized my fear of harm, heights, and escalators was greater than my fear of germs or of appearing a fool in public. Any reservations I had about touching handrails for fear of contamination went right out the window. I held onto those germ covered rails like my life depended on it. I cried somewhat loudly, knowing potentially thousands of people witnessed my ride of shame, but it’s all I could do.
How did I make it to the top, you might wonder? When the fear almost crushed me, I realized that if I was going to make it, I’d need to focus.
I fixed my eyes on my almost teenage son beside me. He stayed with me. He talked quietly to me. He even called me mom no matter how it must have embarrassed him.
I fixed my ears on the voice of my brother-in-law behind me. I couldn’t see him because I was too scared to turn my head, but I heard him. He kept talking to me. As I listened to his voice I felt safer because I knew he wasn’t going anywhere.
I fixed my hands on the safety rails without fear of germs, and held tight. I didn’t let go because I was hanging on for dear life.
And one painstaking step at a time, the path carried my feet to the top. I arrived where I was going.
I’m not going to lie, I didn’t show up at my destination without some evidence of the rigors of the trip. I didn’t arrive with my dignity in tact. My heart was pounding, my knees were shaking, my eyes were a little wild from the ride, and I cried openly. But I made it.
I think that escalator ride might be a little like living Unshaken. It’s not living with a promise that nothing scary is going to happen. It’s not having assurances that you’ll arrive at your destination like you’ve been on a pleasure stroll – in fact, I daresay it’s very unlikely (impossible?) you’ll arrive that way. You might not get to the end with all your dignity intact.
But if you keep your eyes focused on God, the One who won’t send you anywhere He hasn’t already been, if you keep your ears tuned to His voice as He speaks through His Word, if you hold tight to His promises in faith, you’ll arrive at your destination, maybe shaking, but unshaken.
Wait – so what am I saying?! That I do the work needed to be unshaken? Nope. I was a mess that night; I was completely incapable of accomplishing anything productive or lasting. All I did was stand there and let the escalator take me where I needed to go. It carried me right to the top because I couldn’t take one step on my own. The fixing my eyes and ears and hands, that was just how I stayed calm enough to endure the ride.
And life’s a ride. (But you probably already know that.)
At Unshaken, you won’t find tips, strategies, or game-plans to rock the ride. We’re going to point you to the One who’s already rocked it for you. We’re going to remind you, and ourselves, where to fix our eyes, what to listen for, and Who to hang on to.
Friends, because that’s what we’ll become, we might cry and shake some of the way up, but if we’re riding with Him, we’ll get where we’re going Unshaken.