Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Conquering Acrophobia

As I've been searching for clues as to where God could be leading me in school, He was gracious enough to pull up some other crap from my personality that He knew (without asking me) I would want to be rid of. It had nothing to do about direction in my life. It had everything to do with the immobility I was stuck in. Oh yes. God is an adventurous God. He created adventure. And He knew how much I needed to take part in it. That meant conquering the fear in my little handicapped heart. 
Fear is a terrible, crippling monster that has taken over every aspect of my life. I've known this all along. I'm shy. I hate crowds. I'm claustrophobic. I'm deathly afraid of heights (I get vertigo in the deep end of a pool). I'm scared of other human beings. I'm terrified of going too fast down hill. Aaaand the list goes on. 

So gently He said, "Enough." Fear has paralyzed me for too long. Time to face it head on and take it down. It could have been the motivations of my daydreams of adventure. It could have been the inspiration of the brave adventurous people that I admired (Zander, Bronwen, Kathryn, etc....). It could also have been the boredom of a "safe" life. Whatever it was. This year I finally got out. I made a list, thought of what I'd like to accomplish and off I went, dragging those brave people with me.

This past Friday I finally got my brother to cart me along to the rock gym with him and Pj. Yes. That fear of heights had to go. 

This looks like hell to me

It was terrifying but oh so exhilarating. I got my shoes, I got my harness I went to the bouldering area and grew extremely worried when I got vertigo in there. Things weren't looking good and as I feared, I was beginning to immediately regret my stupid decision. But no, it had to go. I had to accomplish going all the way up a wall at least once. Even if just for diagnosing purposes to see how bad this fear really was.

Well it was pretty bad. And this is why I begged Zander to take me. Because for some reason my brother knew exactly how to encourage me without abusing the word "motivation". It's odd to me when people will use fear as another motivator to get over a fear. I just don't work that way. Especially when I'm already committed enough to show up to with shoes and a harness. So I was extremely thankful when he allowed me to come back down after only climbing up 6 feet. That wall just wasn't working for me. So I belayed as Zander showed me how it was done. I was inspired. Especially as he dangled under an over hang to re-think his route. How he could be so comfortable being so exposed and at the mercy of gravity is beyond me. 

Well with my new inspiration we went off to the beginners wall. "Alright, Arica. It's your turn." Oh, Lord, help me. I liked this beginner's wall because there wasn't a spot where there wasn't a good sized rock to cling to with your very life. It also had a slight incline which was welcoming to me on my first time up in 8 years. 
"Zander, give me a story for motivation so I'm not thinking of falling." "There once was a girl in her mid-twenties who was afraid of heights..." "No! Not that story!" 
With Zander fired as my narrator I started up. I almost fired him as my belayer too when he started to loosen the rope when I leaned back in the harness to make sure it was still there. But one quick scream at him, drawing the attention of the rest of the gym, and he was back to pulling the rope so tight that it could have pulled me up the wall. I'm not going to lie. I have no idea how I made it up (even with Zander's belaying). About half way up I had to pray and give my life over to the Lord again. I looked over to see a girl, barely in her teens about where I was, begging her family to let her down. Ahaha, ah I was in good company. Some how I got to the top, touched the bar, leaned back and was back down, hugging the stinky chalk stained ground. My relief was short lived when Zander said, "Now go back up." Oh good grief, how did I ever think this was a good idea? This time I hired Pj as my narrator. "Your mom is dying and at the top of this wall is an herb that will save her life." I was up again, this time, fully motivated to save my mother. "I can't let her die. I can't let her die!" Funny what the mind will believe just to get over fear. 

Zander was right. Accomplishing it once isn't good enough. It takes practice and over exposure to get to the point of comfort. Unfortunately those were my only two times up to the top that night. But good news was that my vertigo was gone when I returned to the bouldering area. With the fear slightly diminished I began to understand why people fall in love with this sport. It's like the ultimate puzzle that involves your whole body and mind. It's also a blast to go with those two since they make it so light-hearted and non-competitive. My kind of crowd. :)
Will I be going back? Heck yes. If Zander remembers to take me. It was exhilarating. You begin to feel alive and all of the sudden the world starts to open up. If I can conquer my fear of heights, my other fears will appear less of a giant. 

In all this time of prayer and seeking God the one sure thing I know I keep hearing from Him is, "Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid." How many times does He say this? How many times in the bible? This goes for trusting Him. Because really it is fear of the future that gives me anxiety. Fear of being out of control. Fear of failure and making a mistake. But with God on my side, with His promises and whispers of comfort...what is there to fear? My eyes are so open to see that it very well could be humanity's arch nemesis. Fear is irrational. Be smart. Be rational. But don't be paralyzed. Don't be ruled by it. Practice trust. Practice growth. And goodness knows it is a God inspired endeavor. Because He really is the only trustworthy thing to put your security in.....

"God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah"

-Psalm 46:1-7
This was a small feat. My little step of an attempt to grow. But praise God for those little steps. Because they become addicting. And it somehow opens my eyes to see God moving. And watching Him move is like watching the Rohirim come to the aid of Gondor. He just crushes the enemy. If this is my God, then good grief, my life should be unstoppable. So here's to the continuing endeavor :)

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