I had an experience this weekend that really opened my eyes. David, who NEVER wants to go places and just be a tourist, suggested that we get away to celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary. We found a great place in Georgia that had a creek that runs through the property, beautiful hiking trails, and tons of ziplines. We signed up for a ziplining tour and we were both excited at the idea of a new adventure.
I will be honest, I’m a big chicken. I can throw on a tough “I got this” face, but in all reality, everything terrifies me. So, needless to say, the idea of ziplining scared the ever-living hooey out of me. Because I knew this going into the weekend, I spent absolutely zero time thinking about ziplining this past week. I didn’t want to overthink or get worked up; I just signed up and showed up.
We got suited up, had the safety talk, practiced a few things and then headed to the course. As we started climbing the stairs, I felt my heart rate increase. Then I started getting a little jumpy. Before we made it to our first zipline we had to cross a wobbly rope bridge. The farther out on the bridge we got, the more my nerves kicked up. We made it to the platform and every time someone stepped off the platform and onto the zipline, the entire tree moved. That’s when my super-excessive grip set in.
It was finally my turn to zipline. I held on for dear life to the metal pulley with my left hand and grasped the rope that secured me to the pulley with my right. In order to brake as I reached the next platform, I had to let go of the rope and cup my hand over the cable above me, kind of like a drag. It wasn’t the fear of falling that bothered me, it was the fear of letting go.
I’m sure the zipline was fun, I’m positive that the views were incredible, and I’m confident that there was no way I was going to fall off of that zipline, but for some reason all I could think about was the fact that I had to let go to brake so that I could land correctly and safely. My first landing was okay. I tried to brake, got freaked out and still came into the platform too fast. The next few were about the same. Every time I landed I was shaking all over but by the time everyone got to the platform and repositioned for the next zipline, I was calm enough to try again. Then we got to the “fast, faster and fastest” ziplines. We had to brake. There was no alternative. Not only that, but there was barely any time to regroup in between, just a quick landing and then a quick send off to the next one.
I managed a pitiful braking attempt on the “fast” one, but my shaking didn’t have time to subside before they sent me off on the “faster” one. Somehow I was able to land safely on this one even though my braking was pitiful, but the guide told me if I didn’t get the braking down on the next one I could get hurt. So, a seriously nervous girl stepped off of the platform to attempt the “fastest” zipline. I was going super fast. I remember thinking, “There is no way I will be able to slow down enough for this landing.” My brain disengaged. I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to do. I grasped the metal and the rope and held on for dear life. I remember a feeble attempt at braking as my feet hit the landing pad and then my helmet hit the cable connections.
Thankfully I only got a small bruise on my head from the hit, but as soon as I got unhooked from the main cable, a new level of anxiety set in. I couldn’t stop crying. I was shaking all over. My heart rate jumped up a notch. I couldn’t catch my breath. I was having a panic attack. All of these people, including my husband, were having a blast enjoying the ziplines while I was overcome with crippling fear.
There was one more zipline before we took a break and I was able to get across it, but I couldn’t finish the 2nd half of the course. I knew there was no way I could get my mind right, especially since there were bigger ziplines on the second part. The thought of continuing made the shaking worse. If I was shaking, then there was no way I could hold on, much less brake and land safely.
I keep coming back to this reality: I wasn’t afraid to fall, I was afraid to let go. By holding on too tightly I couldn’t enjoy the ride. I missed the views. I missed the rush. I missed the point. I let fear take the lead. I was so consumed with letting go and trying to brake correctly that it became the focus of the whole journey. All I could see was the impossible task ahead; but I missed the fact that I was totally equipped for the ride.
Apparently this truth wasn’t just for the zipline and God has been showing me since then that I am afraid to let go. I’m too comfortable. I’m not regularly stretching and taking new opportunities to grow. If I don’t learn to let go, I’m going to miss the ride…
And the ride is the best part.