It’s always been a big part of my process. Striving, building toward the next big goal, and welcoming the work needed to get there is second nature to me. I embrace the challenges. I even expect obstacles and opposition. Whether “climbing up” to achieve more in work, in purpose, in being, or as a mother, wife, friend, and sister, I understand and accept that I need to put hard work into all I want to do and become. Funny as it may seem, hard work is easy.
Where do I struggle? Letting go.
Isn’t that ironic? Letting go should be the easiest thing to do. There is no work inherent in letting go; it’s the opposite of work.
I was reminded of this lesson recently during a family outing. On that particular Sunday, I thought it would be fun for my family to physically challenge themselves at a rock climbing, ninja center gym. It seemed like an opportunity for all of us to do something active, unusual, and fun together.
Little did I know I would be the one most challenged by our fun family day. (This often happens, by the way. I suggest activities for my family that I think will be super fun, and then I end up unexpectedly challenging myself. Perhaps, subconsciously, that is why I choose to do so).
After ascending a tall rock-climbing wall (a very tall wall), I was presented with two options at the top. I could climb back down (which is so much harder than climbing up, by the way) or leap from that great height, then let go, and trust my safety line to slowly and gently lower me back down.
Looking down from the top, I was a bit surprised to be awash in fear. I found myself nearly paralyzed by my fears of what could go wrong. “Is this rope going to catch me? Does it ever malfunction? How much wear and tear has it had to endure?”
Risk assessment completed, I decided to eschew the potential hazard of shoddy safety line maintenance and climb back down, handhold by foothold.
Back on the ground and covered in sweat, my reluctance to jump bothered me. It felt… familiar. This sort of trepidation was something I’ve felt and faced in the past. I mean, I wrote a book called Fear Is Not an Option. How could I NOT make that leap from the top? So, I visualized all the times I had to let go in my life and trust the Creator to have my back. Like the time I was starving myself nearly to death when I had anorexia. Or the time I gave birth to my second child and within hours was given the news of his Down Syndrome diagnosis. Or, on a smaller scale, the times I conquered my fear of elevators, roller coasters, and ice skating. I told myself, “You have this! You have done this in the biggest ways, so go do it in the physical world and choose to LET GO!”
Resolute, I climbed back up to an even higher wall. At the top of that wall and against every instinct, I leaped with total certainty that everything would function perfectly. I jumped, hugged a punching bag, slid down, and hung suspended from the safety line as it did its job.
This time, after arriving safely on the ground, I wasn’t met with perspiration but tears accompanied by another familiar feeling: A feeling of being completely at one with the universe. Loved. Protected. Safe.
For me, the challenge isn’t the climbing. It’s the letting go.
We all have experienced that reluctance to jump, to let go, to know that we are not in a position to control the outcome. Think about riding a bike for the first time. Do you remember when your father let go of the bike, and you took off? It must have been scary, exciting, and you were likely unsure of your ability to ride without support yet wholly willing to try. There are so many moments like these in our lives. Think about the first time you climbed onto a diving board and looked into the blue water below. Did you jump off the very first time? Some kids fling themselves from the diving board with admirable elan and the perfect absence of fear. Most climb up and down a few times before attempting it. Once you jumped, wasn’t it exhilarating? Or the first time you climbed onto a horse and rode, just you and the pony, on a trail. Or maybe when you went away to college and waved goodbye to your family. When you walked into your first job, sat down, and became part of a team. Or the other “jumps” when you didn’t know what the future would bring, like deciding to marry or have children. We have so many experiences that are essentially leaps of faith.
Thinking we have control over anything is the biggest illusion and one that causes great unhappiness. We all have a human need for security, and that need is what drives us to attempt to control our surroundings, our relationships, and even other people in our lives. Yet, we don’t have control over it all. That can be a scary thought, but I encourage you to reframe it. If control is impossible, what would happen if we just embraced the unknown, certain enough in ourselves and the Creator to know that we can handle it?
You already know how to do this. You rode that bicycle all by yourself. You climbed onto the horse, jumped off the diving board, fell in love, and got a new job. We have no guarantee that things will work out as we expected. Yet, understanding the risks, we decide the leap outweighs them. What will you decide to do next?
Rethink Moment: Have you had an experience where you had a hard time letting go and trusting the process? How did it turn out? And how did you feel? Tell me about it in the comments.