Learning to Lean Back and Release my Grip

releaseI waded through the chest-deep waters of a twenty-foot wide pool of swirling water, glad that ropes and a harness connected me to our guide who stood 30 feet above me at the edge of the waterfall.

Our practice run rappelling down a dry cliff and climbing back up had been easy. A guide at the bottom and one at the top shouted encouragement and gave us pointers on proper stance (keep your hips low, your legs wide and lean back so you’re almost perpendicular to the rocks).

The roar of the falling water drowned out the voice of the guide above me, and no one stood nearby to cheer me in my effort at bravery. I had to climb up onto a lip of the lower part of the waterfall, lean back, and step over the edge. I couldn’t see or hear the guide who had gone before me—he waited 170 feet below.

I might be smiling for the camera, but inside, I'm questioning my sanity!

I might be smiling for the camera, but inside, I’m questioning my sanity!

I pulled myself up, careful not to propel myself head-first over the edge, and slowly turned around. Our baby-faced guide leaned over the top and gave me a cheery thumbs-up. I looked behind me and questioned my sanity.

When planning our vacation to North Carolina, I saw a link that proclaimed, “Rappel 200 feet down Bradley Falls,” and experienced a fond flashback of rappelling down next to a waterfall almost 40 years ago in the same neck of the woods. Pedro thought it sounded like fun, so I signed us up.

Now? Well, I stood suspended on a cliff face with water splashing all around me, and a newly minted college graduate holding my life in his hands at the top of the cliff. It had been easy to back off a cliff at the top, with the guide directing my every move and Pedro and the other climbers cheering me on.

From where I stood, rappelling down a waterfall suddenly seemed more difficult. I took a deep breath and leaned back into thin air—my hands grasped the rope and I felt the harness tighten around me. I could do this. I spread my legs a little wider to give myself a firm base, released the tension on the rope that controlled my speed of descent, and walked backward off the ledge.

Such a serene scene--and perfect reminder that with God as our guide, we can do anything!

Such a serene scene–and perfect reminder that with God as our guide, we can do anything!

By the time I reached the bottom, I had figured out how to cool off in the waterfall (I had to maneuver across the face of the cliff), and how to negotiate those ledges that had nothing but space under them—all without breaking any bones or crushing my fingers.

“How did you like it?” the spotter at the bottom asked with a grin.

“Can I do it again?”

How often do I forget that when I release my plans and my problems to God, and simply lean back and step off the ledge of my comfort zone, I will have the exact same reaction? If he asks me to do it—I know he’ll give me the courage, strength and skills that he deems necessary for me to complete the task.

I don’t need onlookers to cheer me on—I simply need to lean back, release and enjoy the ride. (click to tweet)

I’m linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker and other fabulous writers for another Five-Minute Friday exercise–this week’s prompt?  Release.  

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • I love this! I wish I could have gone with you, though I’d probably have been the most afraid. 😉 I love the analogy you’ve crafted here.
    Laura Melchor recently posted…Why I Write for Children and Young AdultsMy Profile

  • Thanks much for your sharing your story. Visiting from FMF.
    – EW (aka A recovering “white-knuckle-grip-on-things-I-cannot-control child of the Father) 🙂
    E Wright recently posted…Five Minute Friday: ReleaseMy Profile

    • You’re welcome! I know all about the white-knuckling-grip ;).

  • denise

    You go girl.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Denise :). It really was a blast!

  • Anita,
    You are BRAVE 🙂 Wow 🙂
    Dolly@Soulstops recently posted…Five Minute Fridays: ReleaseMy Profile

    • Brave, crazy…one of those ;). Pedro wants me to kayak on the open ocean–now THAT terrifies me!

  • What an amazing testimony and lesson learned. I imagined you leaning back, relaxing almost, in the palm of His hand. And yes…I know the white knuckle grip too. Leaning into a little grace and visiting today from Five Minite Friday. We’re neighbors.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Lisha. I need to remember my own analogy and do some leaning back into His hands right now ;).

  • Beautifully written!
    Kate @ Songs Kate Sang recently posted…Adoption Update – Part 13My Profile

  • anita, i love this. so counter intuitive! just like depending on Christ is for the majority of us. it feels like we will die! but it is the only true way to live! wow! great post.
    martha brady recently posted…ARE YOU WILLING TO RELEASE YOUR GRIP?…My Profile

    • Thank you for your kind words, Martha. It’s sometimes easier to cling the the rope that we can see than to release our grip and let God do the work. Ok, it’s almost always easier to cling (so we think).

  • Hi Anita! You are one brave lady! Did Pedro do it too?
    I love that your response was “Can I do it again?” That kind of exuberance is exactly what God wants to hear from his children. Beautiful 🙂
    Ceil recently posted…The Greatest AccomplishmentMy Profile

    • Hi, Ceil! Yes, Pedro went down, too (and loved it as well).

  • So I felt fear with you. As well as relief. Your words were a great encouragement. So often, I’m at the top of a cliff that feels like this one, only is in reality nothing but a small hill. That learning to lean back and enjoy is huge. Makes the journey ever so much more fun. Thanks south for sharing. Visiting from FMF – on Tuesday!
    Kelli Moore recently posted…Five Minute Friday – On MondayMy Profile

    • Tuesday, Friday–it makes no difference when you stop by–you’re always welcome :).