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Be Not Afraid: Something Wonderful



Editor’s note: Alumna Bridget Higginbotham reflects on an experience she had while on vacation in Guatemala this summer that changed her outlook on life.

Standing on a plywood platform, I looked out over a lush, misty valley full of coffee plants. My chest still heaved and my shirt (okay, all of me) was damp from the climb up.

I gulped in the thin, clean air and adjusted my chin strap, harness, and gloves as I watched my classmate zoom away on the first zipline. As the guide snapped me onto the line and tried to explain the hand brake to me (in Spanish), I wondered about my safety.

This same thought had often whirred through my mind, racing along the grooves worn in by previous anxieties until it started cutting its own tracks as it went around with such speed and force.

Right before I left for my trip, a friend gave me a card that spoke to all the anxieties that had been percolating inside me and making me doubt the whole Guatemalan adventure. On the card’s cover was a phrase I decided to make my motto: “Always believe something wonderful is about to happen.”

card-and-guate-francis-1          zip-lining-place-1

With this in mind, I tried to reframe my internal monologue when I was deciding whether I should even go on the ziplining excursion:  

Whatever happens is a potential opportunity for grace and mercy. You will miss out on receiving these great gifts if you never leave your bedroom. Plus, you really can’t spend the whole trip cowering in here. You can’t miss out on Guatemala, just like you can’t miss out on life.

Flash forward to the green muggy mountains, my toes barely grazing the platform below me, as I prepared to take a leap of faith. I took a final deep, steadying breath. I kicked off, lurched into the air, and prayed: MERCY! GRACE!…WHATEVER!

And then I gently glided across the ravine.

It was one of the most tranquil experiences of my life. Surrounded by natural beauty and suspended in the air, I felt so calm, so free.

I went about the rest of the trip with new courage and strength and confidence and peace. Months later, I continue to work on living in the hope and joy of what may come rather than be paralyzed by all that may go wrong.

Always believe something wonderful is about to happen” – I thought of that phrase often during my trip and have been thinking about it often during this season of Advent preparations. To me, it sums up one of the main messages of Christmas, if not the whole Gospel story of Jesus.  

Mary and Joseph had plenty to be worried about – God did not exactly choose a conventional way to send God’s son into the world.  But rather than say “No, I think I’ll pass because that sounds crazy and terrifying,”  Mary and Joseph chose to believe that something wonderful was about to happen. And it did. The miracle of Christ’s birth was possible because of their faith and trust.

What miracles will we witness, experience, or even bring to birth when we stop being afraid of all the terrible outcomes and instead believe in all the wonderful ones?

Reflection question: How can you reframe your internal monologue to be more open and aware to the wonderful things happening around and to you?


Bridget Higginbotham came to Franciscan Mission Service as a Nonprofit Leadership Program associate volunteer in 2011. She went on to serve as our Communications Manager and the inaugural chair of Franciscan Service Network until July 2016. Originally from Orlando, Fla., she is a proud Girl Scout alumna and graduate of the University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications.