I’d been standing at the top of the cliff looking down for a good ten minutes. Yes, I’d just climbed up the other side, but somehow the idea of throwing myself over the edge, of testing the strength of the rope at the top of the drop instead of when my feet could still touch ground, seemed infinitely more terrifying.
They assured me the rope would hold. I believed them.
They said, “Just sit back into your harness.” That wasn’t the issue.
“You can go as slow as you want.” Darn right I can.
“Your brother just did this yesterday.” I sat back in my harness, let out a little rope, and disappeared over the edge before they could even finish the sentence. Nothing like a little sibling rivalry for motivation.
And although I smashed my finger during my panic to hold onto the rope in that first jump, my only complaint when I touched ground was that I wanted to do it again.
I’m a thrill seeker. I love the anticipation, love when my stomach drops, I crave adventure.
Fear wasn’t the issue that day. It was trust.
I didn’t doubt that the rope would hold. I believed the staff knew what they were doing. I didn’t think the mountain would crumble beneath my weight.
But when you’re rappelling, you feed your own rope through, letting yourself down little by little. Did you get that? You feed your own rope. The only thing standing between me and certain death was…well, me. And I didn’t trust myself. I’m not the most coordinated, what if I panicked, I’m not that strong, I’ve never done this before, I’m just a kid, I don’t know what I’m doing, how could they trust me with this, ARE THEY CRAZY? (But a little competition silenced all those voices in the end.)
Last week I was on the phone with my mom processing through life and risks, and I found myself saying something along the lines of, “If I knew this would pay off in the end, I’d be fine taking the risk now. But what if I take the risk, put in the effort, allow myself to want this and it doesn’t work out? Will I have wasted this season?”
I want the reward. I want the adventure. I want the thrill and the stomach drops and the story to tell at the end of it all. But I also want guarantees. And guarantees and reward don’t really go hand in hand. Remember the parable of the talents? He wanted to make sure he didn’t lose anything, didn’t waste anything, and so he buried the money, guaranteeing it would still be there when the master returned. He didn’t gain anything, but at least he didn’t risk losing anything either.
Guarantees kill creativity.
Guarantees eliminate the need for hope.
Guarantees cause us to miss opportunities.
And guarantees keep us from looking for possibility.
Not to mention the fact that guarantees don’t come around that often.
So today, stop waiting for the sure thing. Stop weighing your options to death. Stop with the excuses and start trusting yourself. Whatever that thing is that you’ve been considering, do that. You know what it is.
Because a risk that comes with a guarantee, isn’t really a risk at all.