Anchors

by Andrea Kolber


It’s difficult to imagine it now, but my 5’4" self played college basketball. You know how a lot of people get stopped and asked if they do things, like play sports?

Yeah, that wasn’t me.

It didn’t stop me from loving the game of basketball though. If anything, my size made me hungry to step on the court and play my heart out.

But all my passion never erased my fear. And fear is a big deal.

I vividly remember one of my first games in college. I can still smell the salt of the popcorn maker from the concession stand as we prepared to go out for warmup. To this day, when I smell popcorn in a gym my stomach tightens up a little. 

One of my older teammates had a practice of writing a scripture on her shoes for the season as a reminder. I loved that idea, and decided to do it, too. I quickly wrote the scripture that had been given as my life verse several years earlier by my mom:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go
— Joshua 1:9

Even now, as I remember those moments before stepping out to my first college basketball game, I remember what courage it took to BE in the moment. Usually when we’re scared, anxious, angry, or sad it can be so very hard to stay present because that moment feels intolerable.

The verse I wrote on my shoe was a solid, tangible reminder, that I was capable of being in this moment. Just having it on my feet, made me conscious of it when I walked on that court and drew me into the present. Even more, I believed God had promised that He would be with me in the moment and wherever I went. 

In counseling, we often use strategies like “grounding” or “mindfulness” to help folks stay present. The benefit is that when a person is able to stay present it allows their body to process the information/emotion that is being experienced and allows them to keep moving forward without getting "stuck" in the negative emotion i.e. fear. Because when disturbing emotions do get "stuck," these can create roots for traumas or anxieties. Alternately, when we are able to stay present, we aren't having to deal with the past or the future and thus we may feel more at ease with just this small chunk of "now" and are less apt to have a root of anxiety around that situation. 

In a way this is what my shoe verse provided. It was a form of distress tolerance for this moment of fear. What I love is that God is faithful in providing these for us. He IS the ultimate distress tolerance.  

While I didn't understand the significance of my actions then, now as an adult, I am beginning to get why anchors that remind us of truth IN our moments matter. Because the reality is that life is hard and scary...and good. And sometimes we need help staying in the moment that has all of these characteristics in them. 

We all need anchors for our moments that remind us that it is not up to us to fix the past, nor to control the future. God calls us to abide in Him, in this very moment. 

 

What helps you to stay present in your moments?