You know how they say, There’s nothing to fear but fear itself?
Well, that’s not entirely accurate.
I’d like to add a slight amendment.
You should absolutely fear getting stuck at the top of a Ferris wheel.
Never have I ever walked up to a ride at the State Fair and thought,
Well, this looks safe.

Sometimes, I wonder if they get assembled as part of a reality TV challenge where they’re racing against the clock.
And every hour, a random part is taken away.

So, a few years ago, against my better judgment,
I convinced my youngest daughter to ride the Ferris wheel with me.
This particular one looked like it was built before safety was invented.
The kind of ride that came with a free lesson in trusting complete strangers with your life.
Perfect, I thought. Let’s risk it all for a view of the parking lot.

It wasn’t the height that scared me.
It was the thought of getting strapped into something that looked like it might have been inspired by a sketch on a napkin.

I pitched the idea to her like it was a trip to Disney.
You’re gonna love it, I said.
She looked at me, then at the Ferris wheel, then back at me.
Are you sure it’s safe? She asked.
I glanced at the guy running it, and noticed he was wearing a hat that said TRUST ME.
So, I said, Absolutely.
Nothing says ‘qualified operator’ like a guy wearing a TRUST ME hat.

And as we took our seats, I couldn’t help but think,
This is it.
This is how we go.
Not with a bang, but with a questionable life choice at the fair.

And just as predicted, we got stuck at the top. The tippy top.
If there was ever a perfect moment to kickstart trust issues with your kids,
this would be it.

One great thing about state fairs, though, is that they serve as a perfect breeding ground for life metaphors.
I realized that the Ferris wheel is a lot like our mind.
Constantly spinning with anxiety, fears, and what-ifs.
Each thought doing a rotation always circling back to the top.
Demanding our full attention.

These thoughts get a view they don’t deserve.
And they will stay until you show them the exit.
So why is it that we let them ride indefinitely on the rotation?
Why do we allow them to continue to damage our peace and well-being?

It’s time to start treating each of these thoughts like an unwanted passenger.
When they make their way to the top, it’s time to boldly proclaim,
Fear, you don’t belong here. 
Anxiety, your ticket’s expired. 
Confusion, find your exit. 
And despair, your ride has retired.

And if you just aren’t sure what to do with a particular recurring thought,
pause and ponder its purpose.
If it’s a lesson, embrace it.
If it’s anxiety, confusion, fear, or despair, kick it off.

It’s always worth asking, God, what do You want me to see here?
If you keep sending this thought back around, what’s the lesson?
If this is meant to be on my ferris wheel, help me understand why.
And if not, help me eject it off this ride.  

Because if something’s going to take up prime real estate in your head, it should be building you up, not tearing you down.

The truth is you can’t always control how rough the ride is going to be. And you will never be in charge of every twist and turn.
But you CAN lean into the One who gives you the strength to block thoughts that don’t belong,
making way for the peace that does.

PS. Thank you to Angela Davis for prompting the Ferris Wheel idea/memory!