Lesson 11: Fear it or face it?

Early this year I went on a road trip with  my sister.  Before letting the holiday gremlins steal my writing urge I started writing a post on fear and although I didn’t complete the post, admittedly I only wrote 3 lines, I thought about the lesson almost daily – what fear has meant in my life – the impact it has made on my decisions or lack thereof – how it influenced my thinking and my ability to dream and how it has limited my growth throughout my life.

Often the things I fear are not completely obvious, they lurk just beneath the surface of reality and I am blissfully unaware but ironically steered by them. I make decisions, think thoughts, speak or remain quiet, act or choose not to and a large portion of this due to fear. Fear of what will happen if I speak or don’t, second guessing myself when I have decisions to make and the list goes on. In my reflections on this holiday I thought about how I had grown accustomed to this companion and how often fear is the one guiding my steps and not my faith in God or confidence in the abilities I have developed over the years.

 A clear example took place on this trip. She was on a mission to let go of the old and embrace the new and she decided a good way to symbolically do this was to literally jump off a bridge. I was asked to join her – both on the road and to jump the bridge – the first I gladly agreed to the second I vehemently declined, why? I had no desire to die just now thank you – perhaps after 80 and my wrinkled behind starts wearing me down we can talk…

Bloukrans Bridge

We drove out to Kysna, which is in the Western Cape, South Africa to the Bloukrans Bridge, the highest bungee jump in the world, 216m of it and Kim prepared for her death defying jump. She was full of energy and apprehension whilst I was as cool as a cucumber, thinking only of my role as witness and in doing so I would be as safe as baby in mothers arms. I took the walk with her along the sky scraping bridge, we could see the river below us as we walked along the crisscrossed metal floor, wow, we were high  up and I was thinking “Thank goodness it is not me jumping, these people are just a little nuts here!”

The energy on that bridge was absolutely incredible! The team who operated the bungee process managed the bungee cord with such passion and finesse, never missing a beat as they rhythmically pulled it in after each mad jump. One after the other the psyched up the bungee jumpers who would step up to the mat and wait their turn to be harnessed and strapped, snap shots taken of nervous, smiling but willing adrenaline junkies and then arms spread wide they would place their toes on the edge of the bridge waiting for the two bungee body guards on either side to make the count down and then ….BUNGEEEEEE! 

Viewing deck Bloukrans Bridge

It was like a well processed factory machine, churning the jumpers off one at a time and bringing them back all in one piece, red-eyed, shivering but beaming like the crazy Cheshire cat we all know so well. As I watched this process I began to realise that I had the craziness in me too, I could do this, I could literally (with cord and harness attached) jump the bridge without the deep seated fear of dying. I asked if I could change my mind and do the jump but by then it was way too late – my window of opportunity had just closed. Right at that moment I knew that there had been a significant shift in my thinking – it didn’t happen all in that moment, it has been a slow but steady shift into moving beyond the fears that have boxed me in and contained my courage.

It took that moment on the bridge for me to realise that I could allow my fears to rule me all my life – they could hold me back from jumping into greater experiences and moments, they could even hold me back from the vision and the dream – and how much has happened in my last 30 odd years? How many moments have I held back on because fear contained me?

Fear

My fears, my barriers, my box all created by me.

Mine to hang on to or mine to let go of.

That day on the bridge, despite the fact that I was not sharing in the mad adrenaline rush that surrounded me, was profoundly liberating. I walked off of the bridge knowing that I have it in me to jump, to leap, to take the risks I know will be required of me in the near future. I also knew that despite the fact that many things have not been going my way that in the last 2 years I have faced far more fears than I realised I could and that figuratively, Robin and I have been doing the greatest bungee jump of our lives! Into the unknown – into the place where faith is at the helm and fear is the wave chasing it.

So the ultimate question is do we need to jump bridges to prove we have overcome fear – you can if you want to just make sure there is a cord attached – thank goodness that is not the ultimate test required. I think if we had a choice and we could literally bungee off the Bloukrans Bridge and the dream became a reality I would definitely opt for the literal jump rather than the one we have been jumping. But on second thoughts I am so grateful for what I have learned and ultimately it is also what we choose to learn, what we choose to look at and what we choose to face in our lives that grows us. God uses all things to teach us but if we refuse to learn or only want it the way we want it, it is going to be one long ride and many failed tests that we will need to write over and over again.

Fear is temporary

Putting your toes over the edge of that bridge takes amazing ‘chutzpah’, it takes courage to stare at the biggest expanse of your fears, failures and shortcomings and to let go – to step off that bridge, the control you have, the gravity that you believe keeps you safe. It takes momentous balls ( sorry, but there is no other way to put it) to jump, to take risks and know you face the possibility of failure – of the cord snapping – but I can tell you one thing – when you have taken those risks and looked fear right in the ‘kohoonahs’ you will not look back and regret it.

Fear faced is fear overcome and once that is under your belt the next level will be more do-able, more possible than impossible and that is victory!

The company that do these bungee jumps have a great slogan – “Fear is temporary, regret is forever” – it makes a lot of sense to me…

May 2013 be the year we jump into the new, the unchartered, the new possible. It needs to be a year where fears are faced and bridges are jumped and life is lived without limitations and plenty of wisdom.

May your 2013 be one with no regrets.

Just jump!

Michelle

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5 comments

  1. NICE POST. FEAR BEING “FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL” CAN BE OVERCOME BY AVOIDING PROCRASTINATION. ITS FEAR OF THE OUTCOME OF A PARTICULAR THING THAT MAKES SOMEONE TO PROCRASTINATE LEADING TO TEMPORAL STAGNATION IN LIFE.

    1. So true – fear can either stop us from moving forward or we can use it to accelerate us forward – it is essentially always up to us. Thanks so much for stopping by

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