Friday, April 10, 2015

It's Not The Leap, It's The Landing

I remember the first time I decided to try the high dive at our community pool. I thought the scariest part would be jumping off. Not that it wasn't frightening enough. Standing there, looking down into the cool watery abyss from more feet up than I've ever jumped off of before. Yep, I was scared. I was almost overwhelmed with the need to shimmy down that ladder, back to the safe concrete below, not caring who I had to climb over to get there. But hey, I'd been triple dog dared.

That was the day I learned where my fear really came from. 
Because I did jump. I stepped off into nothing but air, plummeting like a small missile into the water below.
I went much deeper than I imagined I would (sunk like a rock really). It was then the fear seized my entire body and mind!
It resonated in me even then - ok, it wasn't the leap I feared, it was what came AFTER. The unknown.

(Keeping a secret, well... secret, is hard sometimes. But at no time is it harder than when it's a secret of our own. Hard because it causes us the pain of feeling somehow in a constant state of separation from everyone else in our life. We hold it in well past the point of pain, afraid its not a safe enough time or place to let it out. The pain of what we imagine the "after effect" to be (aka - what everyone will think about us) keeps us holding our secrets, our story, close to our hearts. It's like holding our breath. ecause sometimes the burning pain it causes somehow becomes tolerable. Familiar. Better than the unknown at least we think. The after affect scenarios that we imagine HAVE to be worse. So the unknown keeps us silent. Our lungs stretch to hold more)

Let's see, where was I... oh yeah, sinking like a rock.
I could hear the muffled voices and laughter from above. I thought, "here's where I'll meet my maker", while all around me life will just chug on by. The adrenaline was flowing and my lungs were burning with the need to exhale and suck more air in. My mind swirled... what if I don't make it?? What if I don't have enough air to make it up all the way?? What if I swallow water and die?? Or worse, what if I don't die (my young mind was sizing up and categorizing the worse of any foreseeable outcomes), and I live only to be seen being pulled half dead from the water, coughing up the watery depths I'd swallow, gagging and spitting it out like a fish convulsing after being reeled in on the bank?? Only I'd be projecting a barrage of water mixed with snot out of my nose, a gasping crying hot snotty mess, and all right in front of the really cute boy I had noticed sitting on his towel by the deep end as I began my (not well thought out at all) ascent of madness.
I knew I needed to exhale, badly, but I knew I couldn't until I made it to a safe place (head above the water) to do so.
But here's the truth of it. When we offer a declaration of our own secrets, share the thing we're most fearful of someone finding out on their own, or when we bear witness to another persons story with a "me too", or by simply listening and responding with compassion, love, and acceptance, we are validating the fact that the pain, emotions, and feelings associated with them are real. That it did happen, and that the impact the experiences made on each of us matter. In both instances we are finally attaching a deep intrinsic value not just to the story tellers, but to the decisions, choices, and incidents that adversely altered our lives along the way. It’s a priceless acknowledgement that it all hasn't gone unnoticed. And it's a necessary step in the healing process. Necessary because to us it's a direct reflection of what we all need to believe most at our very core, and what we are really seeking in the whole process - to know and believe that God truly sees us, knows us deeply, never left us, loves us as we are, and is for us no matter what.
Part confession, part healing, and part accountability, bearing witness to each others secrets is a sacred exchange (and we should be that safe place) that blesses the heart of our Heavenly Father, and that gives a whole new meaning to Hebrews 12:1 - “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

We need people in our life who know our truths, who encourage us, love us for who we are - the good the bad and the ugly - and want us to be in the best place possible. Then we can more easily let God show us just how much he loves us, by allowing him to rewrite that story. His intent is to assign a "kingdom minded" purpose to our "after" life story - to take us to a whole other level of healing and forgiveness that He can use! We can take off the heavy coat of shame, or anger, or whatever false identity we have been wearing. We can breathe in fresh life once we finally "exhale" the secrets and pain that have long filled us with shame. We can shake off the bitterness that has held us under - suspended somehow in that particular place in time. We can step into deeper water without such fear.

If you hold a secret too close that is tied to a healing you need, it's holding you captive.

See, here's the key to the telling, to the leap, to working our way through the unknown, to our purpose. The freedom we attain from letting God lead us out into our healing, is what then gives birth to one of the single greatest calling on our lives... to help others we meet along our journey who are sinking and desperate for a lung full of fresh air, to find a way to believe that Romans 8:28 is for them too - that "God makes all things work together for the good in the lives of those who are in Christ", and that there is a huge redeeming life giving "exhale" waiting for them too.

Oh, and for those who are interested in the rest of the story - I made it to fresh air, and up the ladder on the side of the deep end, with only a little coughing and snot. The cute boy? Never even looked my way. Dang it. So I took a run when the life guards head was turned, jumped as high as I could, and pulled off a pretty impressive cannon-ball right in front of him  ;)

Joyful on the Jouney,

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