Staring down the steep pitch, my breathing accelerated along with my heart rate. I stood on the edge of what felt like a cliff and I knew everyone around me expected me to follow the leader. Right then, I did not want to follow anyone. I just wanted to sit right down and cry. Why had I agreed to do this?
I thought I was prepared.
Earlier that morning, I prepared by eating a good breakfast, putting on my warmest layers, adding my fresh new jacket and strapping on my skis. Standing at the base of the mountain looking into the bluest sky imaginable, I thought all things were possible. When you are standing firmly on flat ground, it is easy.
When your feet are strapped onto long board, you are a bit cold, and the ground beneath you feels more like a sheet of ice rather than a solid foundation, confidence can fly out the window.
Watching everyone around me zip down, I felt even more like a failure, alone in the snowy silence. Why was I the only one who was so afraid? While, on the outside I appeared to know what I was doing, on the inside I was replaying all of the times in the past when I had fallen, failed, and gotten hurt.
In between Hail Mary’s, I mentally rehearsed my failure.
Then, something shifted. The tape of negativity that was on repeat in my mind, was replaced by Leslie’s voice. Leslie, the kind, patient instructor who was so full of encouragement. Leslie, who wanted me to love skiing as much as she did. Leslie who so gracefully approached each run as if it were a stroll down a country lane. Her voice entered my mind and I heard her say, “You can do this”. I remembered the other times when we had been in similar, yet less steep conditions and she told me to, “Take it slow… one turn at a time.”
Knowing that I was holding up the group, I leaned downhill and trusted her voice. I trusted her experience and her wisdom. I trusted that she saw something in me that I did not yet recognize. With each slow, measured turn, I heard Leslie’s encouraging voice tell me that I had all that I needed. That I was prepared, that I was ready for the challenge. “You can do this”, became the message on repeat.
Are you in the fast zone, riding close to the edge?
When the pace of your life feels like it is faster than your little legs can move and you are juggling multiple glass balls as you run, you might be tempted to listen to the wrong voice. The voices that tell you that you are not up to the challenge. The voice that convinces you that change is not possible, the one who brings in doubt and discouragement.
Whose voice do you hear when you are afraid? Is it the voice that tells you not to try again? The voice that discourages you and reminds you of all the potential opportunities for failure? Is there a voice that tells you the lie that you are all alone?
Do you hear the gentle voice of love and encouragement that reminds you that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37)? Is there the voice of patience that reminds you that faith as small as a mustard seed can move a mountain (Matthew 17:20)? Is it the voice of healing which says, “Arise, little girl.” (Mark 5:41)?
I am not sure why it is so much easier to hold on to the negative voices, the ones that want to talk us out of doing something challenging or new. The voices that remind us of all of the times in the past when things have not worked out well.
Why don’t we automatically think of all of the times when we have been successful and appreciated? All of the times when we have been known, loved, and accepted? The times when we tried something new and did not make a fool of ourselves.
Leslie’s reminders to take it slow, tackle one turn at a time, look at the open spaces instead of the obstacle are great reminders for us all. When we are moving too fast, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the pace, the pitch and the barriers in each day. When we slow life down, we are able to think more clearly, trust our preparation and pray for more openness to the wisdom and love of God.
Trusting the Process
When I caught up to the rest of the group, all fear my dissipated. I looked up hill and could not believe that I made it to the bottom without falling. All of the time we spent doing drills and working on refining our skills made sense. What had seemed like playing around or just a waste of time was all put together in the steeps. (#teamleslie)
I learned so much from my teammates and not merely how to face the bumps in the terrain park, but some life lessons as well. I learned how to try something new after an 18 year hiatus and how to keep a smile on my face even when I am in pain from a big fall.
Maybe Leslie was right, I can face my fears. And, you can too!