I am terribly afraid of heights, to the point that I have a tough time standing close to the rail on the second level of our local mall and looking straight down without feeling a bit of anxiety and flip flops in my stomach.
Since becoming a mom I have gained some incredible courage that I never knew I had when it comes to facing my fears. I know that in any given unfamiliar situation my daughters’ first instinct is to look to me or their dad for a sign of the reaction they should have. And so, when she wants to go on a hot air balloon ride that goes 400′ above the ground or ride the ferries wheel, I instantly push aside my fear and replace it with the biggest smile and excitement I can muster. I do it for them because I don’t want my fears to become their own. They will have plenty of time and opportunities to create their own, why give them mine?
So, rewind to Saturday, May 6th at the Women’s Retreat. One of the activities they had at the retreat was zip lining. I have never in my life done this, but one thing I knew for certain is I wanted to do it because when else would I ever have the chance? And because I knew it would take great courage on my part.
I kept thinking about my girls back home with their dad. I thought of how I want them to grow up knowing that they have the ability within them to go out of their comfort zone and experience new challenges that will help them grow. I want to be an example of that for them. Because I know all too well the feeling of fear that will freeze you to the ground. And I want them to know the kind of confidence that God gives you where you believe with all your heart that you can and will do this thing.
That day God was in me in a way that I had never experienced him before. I was nervous, sure, but not anxious and as worked up as I have felt other times where I am going outside of my comfort zone, especially with this fear of heights.
As we climbed the steps toward the starting point of the zip line, I knew enough of my fear to know that I just needed to not look straight down at the distance between the zip line and the ground because that would only send my nerves out of control. I was with 3 of my cabin mates. Bethany and I were the most nervous while Bassalla and Courtney were our calm buffers. They even joked that for sure Bethany and I could not partner up and go together because we would freak ourselves out and probably need the instructor to push us off the platform. So we each paired with our calm buddy.
There was about 20 of us waiting our turn to go. As we neared the front of the line Bassalla could see how nervous Bethany and I were and that’s when she shared John 4:18 with us, Perfect love casts out fear. Bassalla and I were the last pair in line and as our turn approached I clung to that phrase and repeated it softly over and over to myself as I stepped onto the platform and the guy latched up all my gear to the line. I thought of my girls and my husband. I was so nervous, I now know the only way I kept it together was God and that phrase, and the image of my family back home, unaware of this great leap (excuse the pun) I was about to take.
It’s a funny thing with zip lining. Some people race down the small platform to fly out into the open space free as a bird. Others, like me, take baby steps toward the end of the platform without looking down and grasping onto the line until your knuckles turn white. One step, two steps, closer and closer to the end of the flat platform which then turns into downward steps and you know that with each step you will eventually go because there will be no more steps underneath your feet to hold you.
So I paused, gripped that rope, kept looking straight out, and by the strength of God I turned and nodded to Bassalla that I was ready. I took that final step and then screamed as I felt the ground go from underneath my feet and then the rush of the wind in my face and the speed of the momentum taking me. And in the first split seconds of my eyes being closed I knew to let my weight sink into the harness so that it would hold me like a chair and then my racing heart slowed down and I opened my eyes and oh amazing glory!! I yelled out “Oh my God!!! This is amazing!!!!” The speed made me turn a full 360 and I could not believe that I was getting to experience God’s glorious beauty from this perspective. Fast, fast, down the line I went. Wind in my hair, trees and mountains all around me, and the gray overcast sky above. I was in awe. I had never felt God’s creation like this. It was exhilarating!
And then we got to the end and I was amazed with myself. I had done it! And bless my friend Courtney’s heart, she had recorded us!
There is no greater gift in life than the strength and love that God gives us and to pass that onto our children, that is part of so much of what I want to pass onto them.