I watched my daughter do something courageous this weekend. Let me explain first--she is a gymnast. Right there, most of you are now saying, “Duh, she did something courageous. She does things on a daily basis I have no intention of ever doing.” Which is true. The only sane adult I've ever seen attempt these kinds of moves was my Uncle Jim. But it was the 4th of July, and he was very drunk, and it was NOT a good idea.
One year ago at her high school championships, she jumped on the uneven parallel bars to do a routine that should have been fairly, well, routine. But it wasn't. It ended in a fall and a concussion that left her disoriented, weepy, and in pain for two weeks.
She's been haunted by that fall ever since. She's relived the feeling every time she even thought about performing that dismount. She hasn't been able to mentally get past the fear of trying it again.
Fast forward to this weekend. Same competition, same apparatus, even harder dismount. I watch her chalking up, and I know she's afraid. I know she's remembering. I know she's thinking, “What if?” And I watch her unhesitatingly jump anyway.
At that point, her score didn't matter. Whether or not she stuck the routine didn't matter. The most important thing she accomplished all day was simply jumping on the bar.
How many of us have fallen on our face off the bar and are terrified to try again? You got fired, or had a business fail. Your marriage fell apart. You alienated yourself from a parent or a friend because you behaved like kind of a jerk. You sent out a manuscript you'd poured your heart into and had it rejected 26 times. Ouch. And now you feel like it's too late or too scary to try again.
Maybe you can relate to this guy. Remember Peter, the guy who promised to stand by Jesus until the end and then, when the soldiers came, decided that was end enough? Um, yeah, Jesus. That's far enough; we're done here; you're on your own now. He swore on a stack of Bibles he didn't know his Teacher. Afterward, he was terrified, with good reason, to go back and face the resurrected Jesus. His was a pretty big time failure. So Jesus specifically tells his friends, “Hey, tell Peter I really want to see him.” I want him to try again.
Was the hardest thing Peter ever did to walk on water, start the church, or face martyrdom? No. The hardest thing Peter ever did was go back to Jesus and face down his fear of rejection and failure. It was to resist the temptation to crawl into a box of anonymity and never try that scary thing again.
What's the scary thing in your life you don't want to jump back into? Take a few steps toward it today:
- Live in the present. Whatever happened last year or yesterday is old news. It doesn't define you today. It can't hold you.
- Pinpoint the problem. Exactly what scares you about trying again? Isolate the real source of the fear.
- Objectively decide how realistic that is. What's the worst that could happen? Not that you imagine could happen but what could really happen? Will it kill you?
- Do it anyway. Unless it's, say, a fear of jumping off a building and you realize that is extremely realistic and a bad idea. But chances are it's not, and you should just jump onto that bar.
Let me know how it turns out. I'd love to cheer you on in trying again. Just leave a comment about it here.
And yes, that's my kid. Second place, uneven parallel bars.