Photo by Aniketh Kumar on Unsplash
We are sitting midway back in the movie theater. Tom Cruise is gripping a cable attached to the bottom of a helicopter as it flies over mountainous terrain. I know he’s going to survive yet my palms are sweating.
My husband and I were walking up the metal steps of a lighthouse with our 17 and 18-year-old kids. Half way up, I froze. I felt the fear rise up in my chest as I stood there. After calming my breathing, I reached out to touch the wall as I walked back down every step trying to focus on the wall.
Since then I’ve made it to the top of two lighthouses. Both by holding the belt loop of my husband, walking so closely behind him that I barely saw where my feet were stepping. Once to the top, I stood with my back against the wall looking straight out to enjoy the view. It was beautiful. For about 2 minutes.
I can climb a ladder or tree or scramble on top of our kitchen cabinets to reach something. But somewhere there’s a point I can’t cross. I can’t even watch it on a movie screen.
My toes are perilously close to the edge of life these days. I don’t want to be there but age does that. It pushes you further and further out past your youth to a point where fear threatens to keep you from looking down. You brave a glimpse now and then and what you see is deep and murky.
The edge feels crumbly as if the ground may give way. Actually, it does seem to be breaking off in tiny bits. A clump of usefulness slips between your toes and you try to back away. Purpose and worth are crumbling too and if you could just tip toe around the soft spots …but there’s no place left to go.
Instead of sweaty palms my heart feels like it’s taking an extra beat as I peer into what’s ahead.
The ground that was solid and true for years has suddenly become marshy. I knew the way around motherhood and ministry. I understood my purpose and eagerly pursued it. There was room to walk and my footing was sure more times than not.
I stayed clear of the edge and maybe that’s the problem. What I see as clouded in a thick mist is where the mystery is. Perhaps that’s where God’s real purpose is. Not in my knowing but in me trusting.
No, I don’t like being nudged so close to this vast expanse of what looks like nothingness. I don’t want the anxiety that uncertainty brings.
In her book Learning to Walk in the Dark, Barbara Brown Taylor says, “The only real difference between Anxiety and Excitement was my willingness to let go of Fear.”
Retirement from the known and purposeful is imminent. It is also scary and filled with anxiety and grief. Yet, here I am with toes on the edge getting ever so close to the mystery of what is ahead.
Photo by Blake Cheek on Unsplash
I want to grab hold of excitement for new possibilities like I held tight to my husband’s belt loops. I want my fingers to wrap around my truth and purpose, whatever it may look like, because I know my true worth can only be found in God.
You know the main character in the movie is going to make it. James Bond always survives. Jason Bourne and Indiana Jones escaped death multiple times as does Tom Cruise in the Mission Impossible series. They aren’t afraid to let go and jump.
Sweaty palms, racing heart…let’s jump!