City Island, Yankee Stadium, Botanical Gardens, and Little Italy where my husband grew up. Where else but The Bronx?!
After overcoming the paralyzing fear I first felt upon moving to New York, I learned to love the city! What a fascinating place to live, with its multitude of shops, languages, and ethnic groups! And I was certain that I’d never again be afraid there. Until the day I drove Charlie and his friends to the airport…
No problem getting there. Charlie was a great guide, if a poor passenger! I don’t know if, never having learned to drive, he was just nervous, or what.
But he constantly prayed for God’s protection. Even before the car was in motion! “Lord, be with us and keep us safe.” And then at every intersection, or each time I changed lanes! “Oh Father, protect us!” Whenever a pedestrian crossed the street. And even when I put my blinkers on! “Jesus, have mercy on us!”
“Either he thinks I’m the world’s worst driver ever,” I thought. “Or this guy’s a nervous wreck! Maybe they should have just taken a train or taxi. Because at this rate, he’ll have a heart attack!”
But once I got to know him better, I understood that was just Charlie’s way. And not only did he get us to the airport, he became one of those special friends who remains a lifelong blessing.
But the return trip? That was another story!
Despite Charlie’s protests, I dropped him at his house before heading home. “Let me come along,” he insisted. “Mario can take me home later. You’ll get lost!”
“No, no, it’s fine,” I insisted. “I know my way around now!” But if only I’d listened! Because Charlie knew what I didn’t have the sense to see. It was far too easy for a greenhorn like me to get lost in the Big Apple!
I don’t know how long I drove in circles, hoping to come upon something familiar.
And though not a seasoned New Yorker, I knew I’d ended up in a pretty rough neighborhood. I did at least have sense enough to stay in the car. But oh how I hoped to find a familiar street! Or even a police station, before running out of gas!
I prayed silently, not wanting to alarm the kids who’d grown very quiet in the back seat.
(Those were pre-cellphone days!) Then I heard my son whisper: “We’re lost. She keeps going around in circles!” To which his sister replied “I know, and she’s too afraid to ask directions.” So much for my well-kept secrets!
But my kids were right. I was afraid. I, who had been so sure of never again being afraid in New York!
But being lost, at night, in such a huge metropolis is a terrifying experience. And all I could think about was getting home.
I even found myself wishing Charlie was there to pray at every corner! I sure could have used some of his praying then!
I finally did find a familiar street and made my way home. And even though I knew the Lord is always with me, I was grateful to never again have to go so far alone at night in the Big Apple. That evening of anxiety, however, taught me something.
When we think we’ve learned something, we’ve really only finished the first lesson.
I now know that when we again face the same troubles or battles, our past victories make them easier. Because faith grows by being exercised. And the Lord was teaching me that he will always be my strength, in any situation. Helping me conquer fear.
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)
Perhaps we won’t always defeat our giant of fear; some problems don’t go away.
But the Lord gives us strength to face them. And in the end, we come out of the battle stronger.
It doesn’t matter what kind of frightening situation you face: moving to a new area, a new job, or waiting to hear back on a medical exam.
The Lord can help you face that giant head on. And that in and of itself is a real victory!
[Image of NY skyscraper ©TheScorziellos-Mario]