Since I was 8, my answer to “what’s your favourite sport?” has always been “gymnastics”.
I did recreational gymnastics from age 8 until I was 14. I was okay at it. I certainly had the flexibility, a decent amount of coordination, and probably could’ve developed the strength if I trained more. But there was one thing always got in the way.
I was afraid.
Gymnastics basically requires you to do things that your brain says “No. Danger. Stop.”
Front tuck on a 4-inch wide balance beam? No.
Run full-speed towards a vault and flip over it? Danger.
Propel yourself from an 8-foot high bar? Stop.
But gymnasts have something in them that shuts those (some would argue important) warnings off to do the scary things.
For a good year, I spent the entire time on our bar rotation in the front support position, working up the courage to do a straddle dismount. I was so afraid of falling forward when my feet hit the bar, even though gravity doesn’t work that way. The fear won out over basic physics.
I live today as a retired recreational gymnast (and coach) who has never done a straddle dismount.
That image raced back to me as I read a passage in Life’s Great Dare by Christa Hesselink, a new book about transformation and the abundant life. In it, she uses the example of her first experience bungee jumping, how she had to walk up to the edge of the platform and muster up the courage to jump. And then she writes these words that stopped my eyes from moving on to the next line.
“I knew that if I was going to jump, I was going to have to jump afraid.”
Read that again. Slowly.
Up until recently, I didn’t do anything if it meant I’d have to do it afraid. Fear was my signal to stop. As soon as it crept into whatever I was experiencing, I aborted the mission.
Like the straddle dismount.
Or going to a networking event where I don’t know anyone.
Or choosing butterflies.
Don’t get me wrong. Fear does serve a purpose. It stops us from doing things that might actually harm us. I’m glad that I’m afraid of snakes and sharks and walking through bad neighbourhoods at night.
Fear is a tricky thing though. Sometimes it stops us from hurting ourselves, but other times it stops us from growing into who we are called to be.
In her book, Christa explains that life’s great dare is to let God transform us. It’s about giving up comfort in order for something new and better to emerge.
Because the thing about personal transformation is that it feels uncomfortable, it feels risky. It feels like jumping afraid.
But what if we don’t? What if we stay safe and stop God from transforming us? What are we missing out on.
I want to be more afraid of missing out, than of being transformed. Or jumping afraid. Or choosing butterflies.
Intrigued? Life’s Great Dare is Christa’s story of transformation in the midst of the most devastating and traumatic circumstances. She writes with such truth and vulnerability, it’s hard not to be moved to explore what your life would look like if you say “yes” to Life’s Great Dare.
Disclaimer: I am proudly part of the Life’s Great Dare launch team. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.