Heights! I hate them! I find myself surrendering to the fear of them at times. They scare me so bad that even when watching a movie and the vantage point is from high above, that strange feeling in my gut still finds me. It’s that feeling of having to pee, feeling like I’m going to puke, and a sharp pain all in one that starts in my gut and runs down my legs. For as long as I can remember, I have been afraid of heights. However, a traumatic experience as a child didn’t help much either.
When I was about 6-7 years old, my parents took us to Morro Rock in the Sequoia National Forest. It’s a granite dome that extends out of mountain and over a valley providing a view of the Great Western Divide. There are 400 steps for those who choose to climb it by foot, and for many of those there is no side railing. People have died just walking up the steps and falling off the side.
So, one can imagine the fear a young girl would have climbing those steps with her parents. I cried like no one’s business. I did not want to be there. I did not want to climb it. And I made that clear. I made it so clear in fact that my father took one hand, reached down and grabbed my ankle, turned me upside down and held me over the edge.
“If you don’t shut up, I’m gonna drop you!”
Well. That was that. I didn’t mutter another word the entire way. But, I never forgot that moment.
Over the years there have been many things involving heights that I have had to push passed, including just getting on a ladder. However, once I had kids of my own, it was a different story. The fear still remained as strong as ever, but when one of my girls demonstrated the same fear of heights as me, I knew I couldn’t let it hold me back. I was determined to send the message that you should never let fear stop you and that Christ did not give us a spirit of fear. I wanted my girls to know that their Heavenly Father calls to them, “For I am the Lord, you God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13).
A few years ago an opportunity presented itself while we were camping as a family at Hume Lake. In asking about possible excursions, the fire lookout at Buck Rock was mentioned. From the lake, they pointed to this tiny speck of a shed on the top of a rock, jetting out of the mountain top.
Great! I thought.
When we got there, the stair case was literally suspended on the side of a rock with nothing underneath it at one point. My girls both knew my fear of heights and graciously said I could wait at the bottom and one of them would join me.
Oh, I so wanted to take them up on that but…
Nope! I put on my big girl panties and decided that it was my job as a mother to demonstrate that fear can be overcome. First, I prayed. Well, I’m not sure I ever stopped praying. Then, I walked the steps as far as I could (pretty much at that door in the picture) before I sat down on my bottom, and scooted backwards up each step.
You know what? I made it to the top. I wish I could say the tears streaming down my face were from the majestic beauty we beheld looking down at Hume Lake and the forest below, but they weren’t. They were tears of accomplishment and tears of praise that God had held my hand and whispered “do not fear; I am with you!”
Then, two summers ago I found my way back to Morro Rock with my own girls. Yes, that same spot where my father had held me over the ledge. My husband and girls had heard the story many times. And yes, I climbed it. AND, I didn’t have to scoot this time! But I did stay as close to the inside of the steps as I could.
Interestingly enough, it wasn’t as bad as I remember it. In fact, it was quite beautiful. Yes, my knees were shaking the whole time, and I couldn’t walk standing up straight if there wasn’t something to hold onto, but I did it. And, this time God pointed out the beauty comes in surrender.
Each time I tell fear “No!” it grows smaller (Tweet This) even if only by tiny bits and pieces. That crazy gut wrenching feeling I get with heights hasn’t left, even when watching movies. But, I know my God is with me whispering to me “Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them (or it) a second thought because I, your God, am striding ahead of you. I’m right there with you. I won’t let you down; I won’t leave you” (Deut 31:6 The Message). May we all be reminded that surrendering the fear is far better than succumbing to it.