By Tracey Solomon
I avoid edges, in general. I get that stomach-flopping, heart-thumping, “I’m going to die,” kind of feeling, when I am near an edge. I feel afraid. It doesn’t matter whether I’m on the edge of a bridge, cliff or at the top of a waterfall. My way to cope? I stay away from edges.
On vacation this summer, my family took a hike to a waterfall, here in Michigan. As we hiked, I heard the sounds of laughter and rushing water leading us on. We came to an opening in the woods. We’d found the falls. Trees lined the river banks and wild flowers grew along the shore. Shoes, socks and towels, littered the sandy rivers edge. Swimmers took turns standing at the top of the waterfall, jumping into the pool at the bottom of the falls. This is where all the noise had been coming from.
“I have to get pictures!” I thought. I grabbed my camera, left my shoes on the shore and made my way out to the middle. Standing at the top of the falls, I nervously snapped pictures, as people jumped into the pool below. I watched as their faces bobbed to the surface, lit with joy. But my heart thumped and my mind flooded with fear.
Time stopped as I stood at the top of the falls. “What am I afraid of?” I’d watched dozens of people safely jump. The pool at the bottom was shoulder deep — deep enough, but not too deep. It wasn’t the height of the falls that scared me either; they were about five feet high. I knew the falls were safe. It was the JUMPING, that was the problem. I couldn’t seem to trust and act on, what I knew to be true. That’s when something strange happened. I suddenly, desperately, wanted to jump.
I took my camera to the rivers edge and held it out to my oldest son. “Don’t miss this shot, I’m going to jump.” I said. He knows his mother is edge-avoidant. He smiled. “Don’t worry mom, you jump, I’ll get the shot.”
Fighting fear, I made my way to the top of the falls. I plugged my nose. I unplugged my nose. I stepped back. I stepped forward. Finally, I went to the edge, closed my eyes, plugged my nose and then? I jumped.
Before I knew it, the water reached up and caught me. When my feet found the sandy riverbed, my legs automatically sprang me back to the surface. When my face broke through, I was grinning and yelling like a mascara-streaked, mad woman. “I DID IT! I JUMPED!” I didn’t bother returning to the shore, I scrambled right back up the rocks and did it again and again.
On the way back to camp, I started to wonder, “How many times have I stood on the edge of a life-changing or faith-building experience, just needing to jump, but stopped short because of fear?” Scenes of me, standing on the edge of changes, choices and chances, flooded my mind. Too many scenes, ended with me turning around and leaving, afraid. I wondered what would have happened, had I jumped.
I’m not satisfied with walking up to the edge, then leaving in fear. I won’t settle for taking pictures from the top of the falls. I want to jump into the dreams and plans that God has for me. What about you? I hope you’ll join me at the top of the falls, if you’re scared, we can hold hands and jump together — ready?
One … two … three … JUMP!