I’ve always wanted to skydive. To feel my heart about to come out of my mouth, to stop myself from vomiting upward into my own face, to fall and be yanked back in the nick of time.
But leaping didn’t happen that way. I decided it would be way more fun to quit my day job and freelance write full time.
I’ve never jumped off anything before. Except the jungle gym on the grade school playground. I remember sitting on the edge of the parallel ladder thingy and looking at the ground far beneath my dangling feet. At least it looked far from my third grade perspective.
I think that’s what makes courage such a personal thing. Leaping from the top of the jungle gym might not take courage for a 23-year-old athlete, but it could for an eight-year-old girl with weak ankles. One of the boys in my class had made the jump and broken his arm. I didn’t like feeling afraid, so I leapt. The landing was painful, but I escaped with minimal humiliation and felt pretty proud of myself once I stood straight and realized my shinbone wasn’t protruding from my calf.
When someone leaps, whether it’s off a high dive or out of a 9-5 career, we hold a collective breath. We are suspended in that moment, all of our individual visions and fears transfixed. We are either inspired or flinching. Either we picture ourselves in the diver’s pike position before he lines up, arms pointed, to spear the surface. Or we squint and brace for the belly flop.
I’m writing this before I’ve landed. Certainly, I could land hard. Maybe even a few months from now when the cushion of savings for the mortgage runs low and businesses are slowing down for the holiday season and not thinking of hiring writers. I could, in spite of the strides I’ve made over the past three years, succumb to my fear of financial insecurity and to my Pavlov’s dog reaction to the ka-ching of a regular paycheck.
During a recent prayer time, my husband thanked God for the “rightness” he felt in his heart about my decision. I wonder what that rightness will eventually look like, if not the usual markers of money and success. If you leap and you break your leg, does it mean you shouldn’t have leapt, or does it mean you need to learn how to land better the next time? I’ve done all I can to prepare well for this new direction. If I didn’t leap, what would that kill in me? Or worse, what might God expect less of me the next time?
When I shared my career path plans with my family, there was a mixture of questions and encouragement, ranging from the “what-about-insurances” to the “go-for-its.” My church family prayed for me. My daughters dreamed with me. When I announced my resignation on Facebook with a photo of a celebratory peach smoothie, friends rallied to Like and Comment.
We want to hope in something. We want to see someone take a shot and make it, and we hold our breath until it becomes a groan or a cheer. Before the first official day of this new adventure on Oct. 1, I’ll relish the fall, the rush of fresh air, and the aerial view of possibility.
Some people have called this a leap of faith. I always thought that implied acting on a willy-nilly impulse and Someone maybe catching you before you go splat. But that would just be jumping and crossing your fingers.
Leaping in faith involves believing.
There is a term used in fiction and filmmaking called a “willing suspension of disbelief.” If we cling only to what we know and understand, we can’t truly enjoy the adventure story. We will not be able to experience the magic spell, the hobbit quest, or the impossible James Bond-style sky dive.
So to fully live in our own stories, we must trust in our gifts and abilities…
Trust that God is not just one of the breath-holding spectators…
Trust in the voice that says, “Here is the way, walk in it.”
We must be willing to suspend our disbelief and leap.
Amanda Cleary Eastep is a #wholemama to grown kids and writes about faith and family at Living Between the Lines. She is also a freelance marketing writer for business and higher education at Word Ninja.
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