Thursday, December 13, 2007

I Think I Can, I Think I Can

by Donna L. Watkins

© Donna L. Watkins - Steam Engine, Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, Chattanooga

Do you remember the story of the little red train engine that got up the mountain by saying, "I think I can. I think I can?" I read that story many times to our son, Benjamin. I guess it's one of those children's stories that parents can really relate to when that season of life has so many tasks and so little strength. Raising children is a daunting task!

A couple of months ago I wanted to take a trip to Pennsylvania to see family that I hadn't seen for over 20 years. They were going to be there for a memorial service and I was only 5-1/2 hours away. At one time in my life that was across the street.

When I was single and lived in Mobile, Alabama, in the early 70's, I would drive 23 hours straight through to go back to Pennsylvania to see my parents for an extended holiday weekend. It was "no big deal." They say getting older makes you different, but I don't think it's age. Health is sometimes much different than it was when we were younger, and declining health can bring in many fears. Real and unreal.

The rheumatoid arthritis that I currently deal with has limited me in a number of tasks, so it's easy to doubt what I can do outside of my comfort zone. While my husband offered to change his schedule, which would've included canceling appointments with several people plus two classes he taught, I knew that was not an option.

Although we get covered with fears and doubts about ourself, inside there's that little voice that's telling us, "I think I can. I think I can," but we just bury it deeper with our own negative, fearful chants. The devil will give you plenty if you miss a beat of having your own.

I come up with my own easily since I can so easily see details. So, I went through the list:

I haven't driven that far in many years alone. My hands and wrists had little strength in them and I might not be able to handle the steering wheel that long. If it was a low energy day I could be very sleepy since riding in a car seemed to lull my brain to sleep. I didn't like the hotel option because of reviews I'd read. It was an old hotel and moldy smells really bother me. A family member offered a room to stay. I didn't want to be a bother.

The list went on and on to justify my case in this courtroom battle, with me as judge and jury. No matter which direction I turned I only saw me losing.

The fear of the unknown can ruin your life. There are homeless people that are hungry and that sleep on streets in freezing weather, refusing to enter a shelter. The fear of the unknown, even though it may be infinitely better than the known, is still frightening since it is unknown.

All the time, there was that still small voice inside that said, "You know you can. You know you can." I'm definitely considered a determined person, so I couldn't argue with that, so I confronted the Accuser (me) with this question:

What's the worst that could happen?

When you're confronted with that question, it really helps to sort through what's the truth and what's not. The case I'd built on why I couldn't go was crumbling. If I got tired or couldn't drive the entire way, I could pull over and rest. I could get a hotel room and arrive a day later. I could stay at another place in Pennsylvania if I needed to.

There really wasn't a case. All that was left was the realization that I had allowed fear to control my choices. What did I really want to do? I wanted to see a half-sister that used to spend summers with me when I was a young child, and I wanted to be with other family members that I had not seen in awhile.

So, I began the "I Think I Can" campaign and made the choice to go, I did all that was necessary to plan to leave but allowed myself the option to change my mind at the last minute if I really didn't have the strength. My sweet sister never pressured me at all, so we just hoped together. Once I did that, my energy and strength only grew because I was excited about the journey.

I took some music along and a Spanish language CD and the ride went amazingly fast! I was so into the music on the way back that I made a wrong turn and was 20 minutes down the wrong highway before I knew it. There was that moment of, "Oh boy! Now I've added to my driving time and I'm headed for the Washington, D.C. traffic. I'll never make it!" I barely finished the thought before smiling and switching it around to: "Well, Lord, what new adventure do you want on my itinerary today?"

I found a wonderful state park that was only 1 mile off the interstate and enjoyed the freshness of a late summer forest while praising God for His faithfulness. I'm so glad I listened to that still small voice instead of the one screaming at me.

End result? I had more energy and strength because of those good hormones buzzing through my body than I did most days. As my Daddy used to say to me, "Let that be a lesson to you!"

You can do the same! What is it that you don't think you can do? Don't allow one problem in your life make you prisoner from the rest of your life. Mistakes happen. Health problems come and go. Making life choices based on fears isn't living life at all.

Ask yourself what's the worst that can happen? Then say, "so what!" If it happens you can always turn around and go back to where you were. It's okay! You're not required to be perfect. It doesn't make you a failure ... but if failure is what you're afraid of ... haven't you failed if you are letting life float by by living in fear? Go for it!

I Know You Can! I Know You Can! You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you! (Philippians 4:13)

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2007 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription. Link URL:

No comments:

Share This Post