Sometimes, life brings us fear. Often, it’s just a whole lot of uncertainty. I have found fear in uncertainty can stop me dead in my tracks. Leaving me afraid to move forward. Afraid to risk. Paralyzed with thoughts about all the “what if’s” instead of the what “could be’s.”
How interesting that some things about life become so much more clear in nature. Like, why do I have to have a near death experience or be completely void of toilets and makeup to encounter really good revelation? (On that note… why don’t men get more clarity when they grocery shop or change poopie diapers? Wouldn’t that be nice for us?)
Anyway, lessons upon lessons I learned from skiing. It’s as if the slopes are an analogy of my current season. They show me that I don’t need every detail figured out before I move forward. And if I let go of fear in the uncertainty, it will be worth it.
Before I move onto some key lessons, I want to affirm fear. Fear can be a really healthy, productive emotion. We have it for a reason. Like to protect us from danger. To keep us alive. I am very thankful when my boys display a healthy fear of heights or cars (the rare times they do). However, the flip side of fear is that it often disguises itself and can even deceive us into thinking it’s “wisdom”. Like not doing something makes us feel “wise” because look at all the things that can go wrong!
So, in my few days of near death experiences, here are some key lessons I saw on my quest to overcome fear.
Lesson 1: It’s one slope at a time.
I set out in the beginning of the week to challenge myself. I wanted to be a natural, killing the blues fearlessly and smoothly. But I found myself trapped by fear, waiting until the last day to even try a blue (at least knowingly try :). What I found so scary was approaching the top of a hill and not seeing what was after. Would I fly off the mountain if I didn’t come to a stop? Would I tumble down the steep slope out of control? Would I make a complete fool of myself, or worse, run into other skiers and injure someone? I knew I wanted to complete as many blues as possible; however, I had to take it ONE slope at a time.
On the way down my first blue, I had to conquer those fears everytime I couldn’t see what was next. I had to tell myself, get through this hill… one s-turn at a time. When there was a little break, I would look back at the slope I just mastered and say to myself, wow you just did that, you can do the next! Sometimes, we need to…
Just start moving and DON’T despise small steps.
You see, so often in life when we can’t see what’s next, what’s just around the corner, worry steals our current joy. But when we take it one hill, or one step, or one day at a time, we conquer fears in those moments. Then, we can celebrate on the other side. We also gain valuable, needed momentum to keep going.
Paralysis breeds paralysis, but momentum breeds momentum.
Lesson 2: When something is wrong, tend to it immediately.
The minute I started skiing, I noticed that my right ski was a tad wobbly and my right quad felt strained. I ignored it. I tried not to worry about it. Until the 3rd day, when I wanted to keep up with my husband to have a victorious last day of skiing and my ski boot buckle broke. Upon going to the shop and switching it out, I found out that my binding on my skis was all wrong. I witnessed the manager sternly talk with the employee who had issued my skis on the first day. The bright side was that they offered to comp me for another day of skiing, the down side was that we lost a lot of time on our last day and even worse, I spent 2 days skiing without the right comfort level.
It was a complete difference in my comfortability and control after I had the right skiis. I immediately started skiing down blues. Had I tended to the little symptoms that were first there, I would have enjoyed myself much more and conquered my goal much quicker. When we let little symptoms slide or when we don’t tend to problems immediately, things fester. They get worse and don’t just go away.
Whether in relationships, in our own hearts or elsewhere, we save ourselves a lot of trouble if we notice the first signs of something wrong, then act to resolve it immediately.
Lesson 3: Ignore the strategy sometimes, it’s a journey you just have to take.
I wanted to study the map to ensure I wouldn’t take a wrong turn and end up on a black.
I wanted to follow others.
I wanted to keep doing the same runs instead of always trying a new slope and stop feeling like I never knew what was coming.
But, instead I had to push myself to keep going when I was alone and afraid. Push myself to try new runs and new experiences. What surprised me was that I felt peace as I was in those moments. It’s as if the control that was holding me back was left behind in the snow powder, and all i could do was hope and pray that I would find my way down in one piece. There’s something so freeing about letting go of control, a cousin to fear.
And maybe deep down I disguise control under strategy. You see, I like to have a strategic plan laid out. I like to have my ducks in a row, but some times (or shall i say most times), life does not lend itself to having it all figured out. In those moments, we fight back fear and let go of control. We take steps of faith. We obey God when He says step – or stop – or sit – or rest – or go for it. And we watch Him lead and protect us.
And when we find ourselves stranded at a fork in the mountain where each way down is only by a black, we find an emergency pole make a call, take a really fun ride on a sled with the ski patrol, and gain a super funny story to tell. (not that i’m speaking from personal experience or anything:)
Sometimes, we just have stop strategizing and start moving.
Stop analyzing and start experiencing.
Stop the “what if” talk and start the “this is what happened” talk… the good, bad, ugly, beautiful, it’s all part of living, and I’d rather share about what did happen then always wonder what would have been.
Happy stepping friends~