Have you ever failed at something you really wanted to do well? Have you ever wanted to overcome a fear, but run away scared?
I was on a school excursion in the seventh grade. We had only been in high school for a month and my school decided to take our grade to a water park so we could bond. Australian schools rock.
The hype leading up to the excursion was centered around one thing – jumping off THE ROCK. I quickly realized if I wanted any kind of social status I was going to have to jump off Death Rock (I renamed it).
Confession: I have a small/massive fear of heights. Call me crazy, but the idea of plummeting towards the earth from a great distance doesn’t sound like my idea of fun. Unfortunately, starting high school meant that these kinds of core beliefs were irrelevant if I wanted friends.
The day came. I had my bikini ready and a false sense of security. Not to get graphic but a bikini probably wasn’t the best choice of swimwear for an awkwardly chubby teenager like me. Enough said.
As we walked out of the change rooms, there she was. She was staring down at me and I was staring up at her. She was unyielding, and tall, and solid rock… Obviously.
She was your worst nightmare, in rock form.
We made our way to the top with the girls giggling; seemingly unaware we were all about to plummet to our death. I wondered whether it would be seen as uncool for me to call my mum one last time to tell her I loved her and was leaving everything to her in my will. I decided against it.
We arrived at the top and, like the brave teenager I was, I pardoned myself every time I got to the front of the line. After as much procrastination as I could manage (there was now no one left to jump but me), it was time.
I walked to the jump line and did the one thing everyone says not to do, the worst thing possible. I looked down. I know, I’m sorry.
The jump was 5 metres (16.5 feet) high, but to me it may as well have been 5,000 metres. To make matters worse, I realised my entire class was on the ground staring up at me. Any courage or bravery I thought I had vanished quicker than I could say, “I don’t want to die today, thanks.”
I stared down and felt the eyes of everyone burning straight back at me. After about half an hour of practice runs, false starts and pitiful tears, I gave in to my fears.
A crying, shaking mess, I did the walk of shame back down the hill. I was so embarrassed and could feel the rejection from my friends. I was the only girl that didn’t jump. I was a failure.
Roll the tape forward seven years.
I had finished school (thank you Lord) and was on staff at our church. Dad (aka my boss-man) decided to take our staff to a water park for our annual church staff Christmas party. Can you guess which water park he picked? You guessed it – even if you didn’t, we can pretend you did… but seriously if you couldn’t guess, you should work on those skills.
Realising I would be at the very same water park that had caused so much anxiety years earlier, I told myself I would be fine. Years had passed and I was a “grown up” now. Right? Wrong.
We arrived for our Christmas party and sure enough, she was still there. Staring at me as aggressively as she had seven years earlier. The memories from that day flooded back, and I found myself, once again, a shaking mess.
As I walked up to the top of the rock, my experience can only be described by quoting a poet:
Palms were sweaty, Knees weak, arms were heavy I was nervous, but on the surface I looked calm and ready. The whole crowd grows so loud Snap back to reality Oh there goes gravity!
Sure I forgot everything the lifesaver said and so my arms flung up and slammed onto the water, leaving a nice bruise, but I had done it. I had conquered her. Death Rock, more like Slightly Bruised But Alive Rock!
Just call me Sir Edmund Hilary (or Eminem). Sir Edmund Hilary was the first man to conquer Mount Everest. He didn’t do it on his first go, but that didn’t stop him. After a failed attempt he looked up at the mountain and said,
“Mount Everest, you beat me the first time, but I’ll beat you the next time. You’ve grown all you are going to grow, but I’m still growing!”
Now, apart from the awkward silence afterward because he was speaking to a mountain, which obviously was incapable of a response, what a cool thing to say! Here’s a guy who faced his fears, more than once.
What’s your Death Rock? We’ve all been there. We’ve all tried something and failed. We’ve all made up excuses for that failure.
We’ve all wished that, instead of making up excuses, we could just confess, “I was just too scared.”
I know that feeling. But I also know it’s not over.
If you have tried something and failed, well done. Why? Because there are people out there who haven’t even tried. There are people who prefer to criticize rather than give life a shot. I feel sorry for those people.
Life is a journey, so learn from the past and move forward to victory. If you have fallen down, get back up, dust yourself off, and keep moving. One step forward is one step closer to your finish line.
One step forward is better than standing still.
Whatever you’re facing right now, you can do it. You have the creator of the world on your side, and He’ll give you everything you need.
Ps. You should totally read Hebrews 13:16.