When people say my name, the word "adventurous" is rarely the first association.
I'm the girl who doesn't like to ride roller coasters or bungee jump off of platforms or even play paintball. I'm a great purse holder and picture taker. We all have to know our strengths right?
For all of these reasons and more I was never going to be a long-term youth minister (but that's another story).
Yet I'm also the person who doesn't like to be left out-- as much as something makes fear rise up in my belly, I'll try it.
I've ridden some of the world's longest and fastest coasters (all the while my prayer life simultaneously grew).
I've stood on some of the world's tallest heights (ok, maybe one day I'll jump).
I've gone paint balling with merciless group of teens (coming home with the bruises to prove it).
And so, when Kevin and I spent a couple of days in Costa Rica for a mini-vacation/ attending a friend's wedding this weekend, I knew there was one thing I needed to do before I left the jungle: zip lining. Especially after a couple with us for the wedding went the day before. AND, they couldn't stop taking about how much fun they had.
I was sold. "Kevin," I said, "we must sign up for tomorrow!" Though I'm sure Kevin would have enjoyed one more morning sleeping in and didn't even have proper tennis shoes (luckily found a friend with the same shoe size to borrow from), we set out the next day for our 8:30 am tour. All was well and exciting as met our jungle guides and put our safety gear on. All was well and exciting as we made our trek up the mountain in a cart pulled by a tracker. But when I saw the first zip line with nothing but jungle and more jungle below my feet, all was no longer well or exciting.
Soon my speech became a smattering of words like, "I don't know what I thinking, Kevin. Oh my goodness. Can you believe this height? What was thinking? Why did I sign us up for this?? Why didn't you stop me? You should've stopped me!"
Kevin, with his white safety helmet sliding down his face began to reassure me with stories of the one time he zip lined before in West Virginia, "Oh it will be ok. You'll soon love this! I did."
But, I wasn't convinced. I knew there was a world of difference between West Virginia and the middle of the Costa Rica rainforest. I saw no safety nets. I saw no end to this course down the mountain.
Seeing the fear in my eyes the guide reminded us all: "There's no way getting down this mountain now than by going down on these lines." (The tracker was long gone, sigh!). And, I knew I was stuck, for better or for worse. I knew I had one thing and one thing only to do next: face my fear.
One of my favorite Eleanor Roosevelt quotes came to mind, "Do one thing every day that scares you." And simultaneously thought-- I hope this fulfills my quota for days!
There would be no turning back. And with a push, down the line I went. And went. And though Kevin later summed up the activity by saying on twitter that "the monkeys in the rainforest might need therapy after all my yelling," I did it and even have this picture to prove it.
Fear is just like this-- in the end it is just fear. It's just an emotion that screams CAUTION so loudly in us that we never take the leaps in life that we're met to take. A good dose of fear is healthy, of course. There are leaps in this life reserved for the trained professionals. But, facing our fears can in turn be one of the most spiritual things we do in our days.
For when we face the things that scare us, we leap figuratively (and sometimes literally) into the hands of a God who says no matter what, I will never leave you alone. In fact, as we leap, we might just find ourselves soaring with joy we'd of never known-- just as I did by the 12th (and final) zip line on Saturday morning. Mission accomplished. I was thrilled.