I remember more than once turning up the volume loud in the car and belting out the lyrics of one of my favorite show tunes from Wicked with tears streaming down my face.

My future is unlimited
And I’ve just had a vision
Almost like a prophecy
I know – it sounds truly crazy
And true, the vision’s hazy
But I swear, someday I’ll be…
Flying so high! Defying gravity.

Idina Menzel made “Defying Gravity” the runaway song of that musical, and I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to imagine that nearly everyone who has ever seen Wicked has found herself in the car belting out “unlimited, my future is unlimited” at some point or another.

But for me, to sing about an unlimited future meant believing – if even for a moment – that I had a future at all. At least on this earth. And in the past few years, that hasn’t always been easy. Cancer created a burden of anxiety and fear that often has held me back from walking confidently into the plans God has for me. And not just in the early months–more than six years ago–when I first got the diagnosis. Most days since October 2007 I’ve had a least one thought that has limited me, held me back, from making a plan or dreaming a dream or believing that the future on earth held anything for me.

This is the other side of my word for 2014, the side that Ann Kroeker raised in the comments of my last post. “I want to live with limits in order to be healthy and productive,” she wrote. And this is what I am working toward as I live out “limit,” this year. She doesn’t stop there, though. “But I want to feel bold enough to break outside those limits that keep me from seeing what I’m capable of.”

Don’t let my sad story of cancer fool you into believing that I was a strong, bold person before that diagnosis. I’ve always been a person prone to hand-wringing and worst-case-scenarios. Fear has held me back for years. Even as a young girl waiting for my dad to pick me up for the weekend, I remember staring out the window one evening when he was late, convinced I would never see his headlights pull into the driveway because he had been in a terrible accident.

When it comes to limits, there are boundaries, and there are chains. I want my limits to give me structure, provide a framework to excel in. I don’t want my limits to make me a prisoner and keep me confined. That’s what fear does. That’s what living with a limited future does.

This week at The High Calling, we are exploring the theme of what holds us back in life. From the demands of others, to family obligations, to our own insecurities, internal and external forces keep us from moving into the life we were meant to live. These are not the limits we place on our lives that help us to thrive. These are the limits we face and must decide what to do with.

Will they hold us back? Or will they hold us back only long enough and far enough to fling us headlong into the future, slingshot-style.

In her editorial summary of the High Calling theme, Ann writes, “Sometimes the thing that holds you back can be overcome or even funneled into something positive.” I pray that’s where my fear is leading: courageous movement forward.

Recently, my sisters had the opportunity to see Wicked for the first time, and after purchasing the soundtrack for each of them as a Christmas gift, I dug my own copy out and once again found myself in the car, singing.

And this time, as I sang, “Unlimited, My future is unlimited,” I thought of all that has happened in the last six years when I didn’t let fear control me. I realized how much life I have lived when I didn’t let what’s inside me or outside of me hold me back.

Suddenly, defying gravity didn’t actually sound so crazy after all.

Photo by meglet127, via Flickr, used with permission under the Creative Commons License.