It was at church camp, the high ropes course to be specific. I had made it up the rope ladder, across the solitary log that connected the two sections, to the final platform where I stood staring in disbelief at the wooden bar that swayed gently in front of me, about three feet away. I was supposed to jump to it. At that point, it seemed like 20 feet away. I stood there for a long time, getting encouragement from friends down on the ground. Finally, I jumped.
I didn't make it to the wooden bar. I probably didn't even make it halfway. And today, I finally know why.
My whole life I've been afraid. I will be for the rest of my life about something or another. I know I was scared that day, just like I am now. I am afraid to jump; afraid of what will happen if I absolutely commit to the leap and try reaching that bar. Thats why I didn't make it to the bar: I already knew I wasn't going to try enough to make it. Even before my feet left the ground, I had already failed. I didn't really try. What I told myself afterwards wasn't enough to fool me into believing that I didn't really fail, and I didn't realize until today that it still haunted me. I realized it today because I'm still standing on that ledge, its just a different ledge than the one on the high ropes course at church camp. Now its my life that I'm jumping for: all the relationships, chances I'm not comfortable taking, and the moments that will never come again. I made the mistake of not trying the first time, but will I learn from my mistakes? Thats the question I've been asking myself a lot lately. Will I finally be able to grab that wooden bar? If I really try, will I make it? Or will I be disappointed?
That wooden bar though, lets look at that for a second. Its just hanging there, like fruit ready to be picked; waiting, taunting. At camp it was just a wooden bar. Over the years its become pay-raises and promotions and girls and every possible kind of success and outcome. Its the thing that is just out of my reach and the thing I want most badly out of life. However, success is the end goal; the result, the reward. Like that day on the ledge so many years ago, I failed because I knew I wasn't going to risk the jump that it would take to make it to the bar. But, it wasn't because the bar wasn't alluring enough, or the reward great enough, it was that I could not bring myself to give all I had to attain it. I could not give up the kind of control and comfort that the solid ledge provided. I had to give those things up to make it to the bar, and, standing on that ledge, I decided I wouldn't do it.
What I learned from missing the bar that day is that the battle was fought on the ledge. I stood on it then as I stand on it now, with the same choice in front of me. Do I give up control and comfort in pursuit of a greater goal? Do I stay on the ledge, not really try, or give it all I've got? I'm starting to see that its not just a decision that I make once, but a way of living. Its intentional, risky, and I know I need to know why I'm doing it. But I've realized that if have enough to courage to jump with everything I've got, I've got a chance. The decision is made already. The battle against the fear is already over at that point, and whatever happens after that is what happens. Through the simple, terrible act of trying, I have a chance to reach that bar. Its time for me to try, reach for what I've been afraid of for so long, and start winning the battle on the ledge.