The Big Bully

I can distinctively remember us (my family of 4 at the time) driving across the Bloukrans River Bridge in South Africa. I saw a person go flying through the air right below us and I was like whoa…..they are jumping from this bridge. No way. We were there on a once in a lifetime vacation. That particular day we were on our own driving tour of the Plettenburg Bay area, an area that had majestic hills that met the Indian Ocean. We crossed the bridge and turned into a tourist watch area for a bungee jumping company called Face Adrenaline. We walked out on the viewing deck and there we watched the crazies jump from 216m high, 704 feet for my American friends, approximately 65 stories, the highest commercial bungee jump in the world. Something immediately in my gut then said, you should do this Heather.  I ignored it. I was afraid. Then, another voice in my head chimed in. You are a mother. That is irresponsible. I said something to my best friend, hubby, Jonathan, about how cool it would be to do something like that and he too thought I was nuts. So there in that moment, a rational voice and someone else’s opinion chimed in with the big ole bully of life, a life more abundantly, FEAR. Ugh. We got in the car and left, continuing our way down the highway. I couldn’t shake it. I wanted to jump from that bridge. Now is when I tell you that I have always had on my bucket list to bungee jump. Nope. Never ever even given it a thought, until this day. But something in my gut said I needed to do it. YOLO. You Only Live Once, for us all old farts, who don’t know teenage lingo. I turned to Jon and said, “We gotta go back. I need to do this. I will never be here again ever. This is it. I want to do this. ”  In typical fashion he had thought I’d lost my mind, but he knew I had my mind set upon it. He didn’t even argue or try to talk me out of it. And so on that cold day in July (remember we are in the opposite hemisphere, so opposite seasons), I did something very crazy. My heart pounded as I suited up in the harness. My hand shook as I signed the waiver. My mind told me this is  stupid. What did I have to prove? My eyes filled up with tears as I kissed my two oldest – 6 and 8 years old at the time, before walking the plank of what could be my death.  The music was so loud. They do that to drown out your breathing. It was almost at a panic level. They do this to get you amped up. It wasn’t working. Although, my oldest said I was bouncing around like a cheerleader on the deck. Nervous energy. I walked a walking path that allowed you to see straight down those 65 stories for what must have been a 1/8 of a mile. It seemed like 3 miles. Longest walk ever. My legs trembled as they harnessed my feet into the bungee. You cannot walk in these things you know. Never even gave it a thought until I had to bunny hop to the edge. Helpless feeling. I could not run. There as I stood on the edge looking at the Indian Ocean on one side, the hills of Africa on the other, gorgeous view, I wanted to vomit. Puke and Tango. Puke and Jump. 5-4-3-2-1. I jumped. Well actually, I think they pushed me. Yes, the pictures indeed confirm these men I did not know gave me the nudge. No time to rethink this. For a brief minute I felt my stomach go into my throat and I was flying. Breathless. Airborn. Free. No fear. None. It was effortless. The work had already been done to step to the edge. And then the cord bounced and I kept flying up and and down….up and down….it was the most fun I might have ever had honestly. Until it stopped. And when it stopped, I hung there for the longest minute of my life, my legs began to shake like I was having a seizure. The adrenaline rush was over. My head took over and my fear came rushing back to me. I was now waiting on one of the guys above to repel down to get me. I just began to cry and scream. I was convinced I was going to die, my shaking legs break loose of the bungee, and in that instance honestly DIE. When the guy got to me he had to blow in my face to stop my screaming and get me to breathe. He turned me upright and up we went. It was over. It was done. I had done something no one would ever be able to take away from me. I had mentally pushed through emotions, logic, over-thinking, and most of all fear. I was on cloud 9 and no one could touch me for days after, heck weeks. Even now, I remember it vividly.

So here is where you come into play. This is why I am telling you this story. Too many of you reading might not even relate as you’d never ever do this kind of crazy. That is ok. Your crazy is not my crazy. My crazy is not your crazy. But hang with me….what I did was not as important as the fear, emotions, thoughts, and then the confidence that came after the event. You might think, this girl is not wired like me. Never in a million years. Y’all. (If you hang with me for any length of time, get used to that word. It is my stop and please listen word.)  Don’t fixate on the thing that was done here. Fixate on the emotions and the thoughts that accompany the fear. Fear is a bully. It is brash, loud, and very unproductive. It will rob your joy. It will keep you from living your best life. It is a liar. It will make you feel like you are not enough, that you don’t have what it takes. It will keep you isolated and it will keep you from seeing God show up and move mightily in your life. You cannot be happy and live in fear. The two are basically opposites. And know this, I am not talking about a healthy dose of fear of a parent or even our Maker that keeps us on the narrow way and out of trouble. That is actually healthy. And I am not talking about the kind that keeps us from walking across a dark parking lot at night alone ladies.  Let’s not be dumb. Let’s listen to inner warnings. I am talking about the fear that plays in your head and counters your gut to do something daring, bold, and amazing. I talk to people every day that want to live more free, more whole, more healthy, more at peace, more joyful. But, they are stuck in a rut. They are surviving not thriving. They are just trying to make it through the day. I was that girl. Have I lived life well? Yes. Have I had adventures and done other daring things? Yes. But in the season I was about to enter into just a few weeks after this jump, I needed this moment. I had no idea but God did. We moved back to the States soon after returning from this vacation. While living in Argentina, I had gone through an incredible season of spiritual growth and transformation and we had lived life large, seeing God work on our behalf at every turn. It was if the presence of God was upon us as we lived in complete dependence. It was an amazing time in our lives.  But,  I would soon find out after landing back Stateside I was pregnant with surprise baby #3. I would not return to work. I would be in reverse culture shock. I would enter a world where I felt the presence of God was not with me. I would be depressed, very lonely, and even sick a lot. More on this season on another day. But it was a dark season in my life even in what should have been one the happiest of times of giving birth. What got me out of this season? I remembered the gut feeling when I needed to jump. I remembered the feeling of following through despite my fear.  I remembered how exhilarating it was not be in control actually, to just fly.  Surrender. I knew then to get out of this season it would require another leap of faith, another mental push through all the fear, another listening to my gut, and of course the Holy Spirit too, to make a change. You my friend may be reading this and you already know what you need to do to make your life better. In fact, I am willing to bet you do. You already know something that needs to happen that would help you live in more peace. It could be a simple reach out to someone you need to forgive. It could be asking for that forgiveness. It could be sharing your story with a friend, knowing it might could help them.  It could be showing love to a difficult person. If you are young, it could be sitting with the lonely kid at the lunch table or stepping away from the toxic circle of friends you are in.  If you are old, it could be taking the job. It could be going back to school. It could be putting on your running shoes. It could be buying the kale. It could be opening your Bible. It could be making the commitment to grace the doors of a church after a very long time and imperfect people hurting you there. It could be cutting up the credit cards. I don’t know what it is…..but whatever it is, you know what it is. If you don’t, get still today and ask God. He will whisper it to you if you are listening. Then, say a prayer. Take a step. Don’t stop and think upon it anymore. 5-4-3-2-1 and just do it. Rip the band-aid. Get out of the boat. You will talk yourself out of it if you stop and think. I promise you. Stop hesitating. Stop over-thinking (that is so my issue by the way).  If God gave the urging, just go, do, and be.  2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given you a spirit of fear.” Every big miracle in the Bible began by someone first taking a step toward God. He will meet you there, outside your comfort zone. I promise. Jump.




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