Once upon a time, my husband and I took our kids to an indoor amusement park. Stocked with video games, a climbing wall, and junk food, my children were in some sort version of kid heaven. My oldest daughter confidently declared that she was going to do the ropes course and zip line. My youngest, contrastingly, asserted, “I’m not!”
“Do it,” I said, “because once you do, you’ll be able to say that you did that before.”
She was reluctant and obviously afraid of the height, but I was sure that once she got up there, she’d be fine. I also knew that she wished deep down inside that she wasn’t so scared. A few anxious moments later, there she was three stories in the air, traversing the complex. I saw her baby step her way along the ropes, one foot carefully shuffling in front of the other. Every now and then, when she was confident enough to look down, she would see me right underneath her cheering her on.
Soon she was moving a little more surefooted and a bit faster, weaving her way, still cautiously, from platform to platform with each landing signaling a dramatic sigh of relief. I didn’t have to stand directly under her anymore. I could be a little farther off, but still within view when she needed me. (My oldest, on the other hand, was practically running on those ropes, and I lost sight of her more than once as she maneuvered around smaller kids.)
I could see D. nearing the zip line area in the corner. Her eyes got wide with fear when she saw another girl go careening across the sky.
“You got this!” I yelled. She didn’t hear me. She was so fixated on the ropes and, I suspect, her deafening heartbeats.
It was her turn. She stepped up to the edge and peered all around for me. Like a maniac, I was standing on the floor below waving and yelling so she could spot me. “You got this, Baby!”
She took the deepest breath I have ever seen her take (and this is a girl who struggled with asthma as a small child), and she pushed off, legs leading the way to the other side. I laughed as I stifled back tears and could not wait to wrap my arms around her when she finally descended the course.
“You did it!” I screamed into her face when she reached me.
“That was so scary, Mom!”
“You did it!” I said again, beaming like only a proud mommy can.
“Mom, I can’t believe you made me do that!”
“You did it!” I said, shaking her shoulders back and forth before hugging her so tightly.
When she pried herself loose, I saw the biggest grin stretched across her gorgeous face. “Yes, I did it, Mom, and I am NEVER going to do that again!”
“You don’t have to,” I replied. “You have your street cred now!”
I was never really that worried about her up there because a) she had harnesses strapped securely to her (I made sure of that myself), b) her sister was up there too, leading the way (at least for a few minutes before she realized going another way gave her more speed and freedom), and c) I knew that completing the task, even if she was terrified, was so much better than regretting not doing it because she was afraid.
As adults, we oftentimes let our own fears keep us from living our best lives and fulfilling our destinies. We snuff out our biggest hopes and dreams, being hyper-critical or over-rational. We let the world of naysayers and group-thinkers have much too much standing in our consciousness, and we allow dreams to go deferred, sometimes for a lifetime. This isn’t something that’s regulated to people within one social class, racial category, or economic status either. So many of us have just flat out stopped going for our dreams. And it’s sad!
We underplay our value and ignore the pulsating rhythm of purpose so long that only whispers, if even, of those natural drumbeats echo inside of us. Those visions of who we thought we’d be or those lives we thought we’d live don’t even really feel attached to us anymore. Ghosts of a thought they become, not even brave enough to haunt us. They just sit in a dusty corner: faintly remembered, hardly felt, dying.
I truly believe that we all have a purpose, a God-given reason that we were allowed to survive the womb and the world this long. When I’m feeling most uncomfortable with life, it’s usually when I am living somebody’s else’s dream. It’s when I am being the company-woman, the “good little girl,” losing touch with who I really am, what I really need, and where I really want to go. Interestingly, enough, when I own so authentically me, I feel liberated, even in failures, and step more assuredly with the faith that things are working out according to plan.
Jeff Olson says that “successful people do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do.” For years, I was unwilling to prioritize healthy eating. Over the last two years, after deciding and actually doing it, I’m 40 pounds lighter (and maintaining it). My destiny, though, isn’t just tied to my fitness. That’s a part of it, but I have much bigger, more ambitious dreams. And so do you. Are you willing to do what it takes to be successful? Are you going up on those high ropes, baby stepping your way along, and jumping off the ledge to soar to the other side? Or will you continue to be unwilling to do what you know you need to do, and definitely can do, to realize your destiny?