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.  

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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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