As the son looked through the glass door, watching as the car up ahead bounced and swayed and failed to make a straight path, he shook his head, "No way!"
"I'd really like you to come with me."
"Because it will be fun."
"No, Dad. Please don't make me."
"Well, you can stay here. But I'm going to the next car."
The son watched as his father slipped through the door. Seconds later, the son stood up and followed his father.
I've sat in that seat where the son sat.
During our family's first trip on Amtrak, I felt paralyzed when I saw what it would take to cross from one car of the train to another. It was an obstacle course, requiring passengers to open one door, walk across a constantly shifting platform, open a second door, and step into the next car.
The failure to conquer that fear could have resulted in hunger because the dining car was separate from the sleeper car. My mom and my sister kept showing me that the path could be navigated, and eventually I managed to conquer my fear. Since that trip, I have fearlessly passed through many train cars.
Mark Batterson writes in his book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day,
What's interesting is that psychiatrists posit that we're born with only two innate fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises.
That means that every other fear is learned. And more importantly, that means that every other fear can be unlearned.
. . . .
One of my sacred duties as a parent is to help my children unlearn their fears.
. . . .
Think of your fears as mental lions. If we don't learn to chase those fears, they can keep us at bay for the rest of our lives. So, like a good parent, our Heavenly Father helps us unlearn the fears that would cause us to pass up so much fulfillment and fruitfulness--because He loves us and wants the best for us. (pp. 47-48)
The father on the commuter train last week knew this and wanted to help his son. My mother also knew this and wanted to help me. Both gave options and led by example. Just like Jesus.
So consider what fears you have that need to be unlearned and aske whether you are willing to follow your Heavenly Father, even when the path doesn't line up or looks scary. And consider what fears you can help others unlearn so that they won't have to pass up fulfillment and fruitfulness.