{When Did you First Believe that God is Male?} #mutuality2012

Where do we form our ideas about God?  And more importantly when?  How young does it begin to register in your head and heart, your idea of God as a masculine figure and that your daddy is also male? How did they become so mixed together, mingled and intertwined?

And I asked myself today.  How do you pull them apart, which you must for a variety of reasons but most of all because you don’t know how to pray to that God. You don’t know that God.

What if you grew up feeling that you will never measure up, never have a day in your small, inconsequential life of being good enough, no matter what you do.  What if you grew up believing that your life, whatever you become, whatever you might

Hope for, dream or wish, whatever you might be today isn’t enough? 

What if you have believed since you were a very young girl, that all your striving will make Daddy love you more and yet it doesn’t work? Did not work.  What then?

What if you learned that God isn’t male What if God isn’t just a daddy or a father but a mother, a healer, even a lover?  God is something beyond our comprehension, wild and incredible, beyond imagination.

How are we to pull those ideas apart, with their

Deep Roots that have grown up all over us, entangled

with one another, clinching our chest tighter year after year – strangling,

smothering,

killing you.

I know that I cannot separate these things.  In my human effort it’s impossible to make my shouting, critical, mean-spirited, controlling, effortlessly (it seemed) horrible and cruel daddy to stop.

I have to throw that idea away.  I have to toss that idea of human daddy being God or or God being like my daddy, toss it far into the ocean with all the other idols I have collected in my life.  I’ve got a few, but this one is a huge Monster of an idol and in my power I cannot even lift it, to toss it away into the vast murky universal ocean.

I cannot.

So I sit here, on the beach.  My feet sandy, my toes getting wet just a little, I pick up a pebble and fling it as far as I can.  I do not see how far flies, but I know that it is gone.

My hand is empty.

I imagine that I hear it fall, then swirl down into the waves, the tide pulling it out, further and further away

from me.

That’s how far I toss the idol of my human daddy being my God.

Out of my mind.

out of my heart,

out of my life,

daddy’s gone.  Human-daddy-formed-god, to be replaced with …

Something New, that I do not know yet.

“God is not limited by gender because God is Spirit.” – Mimi Haddad

I want to know that God.

So I am going to stay here on the beach a little while longer waiting, hoping, dreaming, believing that this God, who I cannot even comprehend yet, wants to know me.

Melody

“The point of the incarnation was that Christ represents your flesh and mine. Perhaps for this reason, Christ’s self-appointed name was most frequently Son of Man (anthropos—humankind) not Son of Male (aner). Gendered deities were part of the Greek dualistic system, which Jesus, as your flesh and mine, stands against.”  – Mimi Haddad, CBE

Who Needs a Heart when a Heart can be Broken?

For one human being to love another;

that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks,

the ultimate, the last test and proof,

the work for which all other work is but preparation.


— Rainer Maria Rilke

[I have avoided writing this; dreaded the moment when I force myself to write about the sermon on Sunday about Turning your Family or Friends into an Idol. A part of my Be Real series.]

I have spent the last twenty-three years trying to understand my family and a lifetime of living within relationships that I cannot understand.  It has been long and hard.  Even in my most optimistic moments, yes I do have them, I don’t have much good to say about growing up in my family of origin. I do not idolize family, if anything I have turned recovery from my family’s co-dependence into an idol by spending so much emotional energy on it.  These days, I just want to do and think about something else.  I’m tired of the subject.  It is a stove that guarantees to burn.

My family of origin was dysfunctional.  My family was hard to grow up in.  I got an acid stomach ache every time I walked through the doors of my parent’s home as a young adult, when I was living nearby and coming over for Sunday meals.  My family was (Oh!  You see, there goes my blood pressure rising as I write this.  My heart is beating more quickly.  Anxiety floods into my chest. Cold white panic sits in my belly.)  Just to talk about it still causes me physical pain.

I’ve told this story elsewhere on my blog, so I don’t want to belabor it.  My father was verbally and emotionally abusive.  Home was a place of fear, secrets, and shame.  My family was not all bad – there was love, my mother reminded me recently.  You could call it that.  My father could be tender and loving.  One never knew if he was going to think you were good or bad, pleasing or not, funny and clever or rude and cheeky, insightful and brave or insulting and mean.  It had no logic or rhythm, my father’s anger.  It only had the same result over and over – to me family came to mean fear, anxiety and pulse pounding stress.

My family was nothing you’d want to be a part of and that hurts.  If my father had lived I don’t know what I would have done about his impact on my children.  I am (mostly) grateful that I never had to figure that out, because he was verbally mean and dangerous, and his anger was frightening.  (My stomach lurches again.)  It still frightens me because I am his child — I got his brain and his verbal skills and red hot temper.

I did two decades of psychotherapy to heal.  I spent years in a fog of alcohol and before that as a workaholic.  I was always eager to make my dad happy and he rarely was satisfied with me. This is his legacy.  This is what I have now — and all I can do is stumble to the foot of the cross.  Without Jesus in my life I would be – without Jesus I am a shattered and broken person.  If there is anything good in me, it is Jesus.

So when I hear sermons about how people idolize their family to the point of putting them ahead of Yahweh (which is what any idol is) I feel kind of sick to my stomach.  And my heart feels heavy with sadness that can’t be ignored.  I’m not ignoring it but I’m also trying not to place it too high in importance.

I don’t even feel envy anymore, okay perhaps a little, when I hear my pastor talk about how important his family is to him.  But I’ve lived long enough and had enough hurtful experiences to not even believe in that mysterious thing — familial love — as something special or attainable, at least not for me.

We are not family in any way that our culture says is good.  I don’t believe I can change that.  I’m not sure that I should try.  All I can do is work on my stuff – be responsible for how I treat others – not shutting anyone out when they reach for me.  We are separate, autonomous, and seemingly lost to each other.  I deeply love each member of my family but I know that they have found “family” elsewhere.

Most days it is all I can do to love my husband and kids without smothering, boxing in, shaming, chiding and berating, criticizing, or condemning someone.  You do what you know. I want to know something different, something better.  And Tom has taught me something else, he is beautiful, pure and good.  After almost twenty years of marriage, I can say he will not intentionally hurt me and I believe it.

It is all I can do to try to live in the midst of the reality that I have no faith in the idea family. To me it represents broken hopes and pain.  When people talk about their “precious family” life, I will smile in response and inside I am wondering what the hell they are talking about.

Lest you completely despair for me, I wrotethe following poem last year.  It too is true.

I Never Knew Love

I never knew
that love would be so good.

Our beautiful chaotic life
of music, creativity and ideas. Of
trust, values, and goodness.
Of dreams.

I’ve learned
what it means to give up yourself, yes die
to self. That’s love
to me.

Often the world says
otherwise. But they don’t have
this beautiful chaotic life
we share.

I thought we had to fight,

and disagree
more than not. I imagined
we would be in constant friction.
Because the house that raised me
burned to the ground.

But I learned
the way to live is to give. Then
you get it all back without even realizing you are loved.

My dear, you are, everything.
And from you I have learned
to live.

So how can that be true and all the above as well?  All I can say is that it is and that is the tension of life.  I am learning how be in and make a family.  I am learning about loving, giving, and hoping and perhaps one day I will be able write more about what it means to create your own “precious family.”  Until then, all I can say is, no, I don’t idolize my family.

(Parenting by Free Fall is something I wrote about my fear of parenting based on my experiences.)

Just Make the Salsa: Living without Fear

A response to a Blackhawk’s Sermon.  A part of my Be Real Series.

April, 2007Do one thing every day that scares you!  — Eleanor Roosevelt

f.e.a.r.

The strangest things scare me. I was not afraid to become a mother. But almost every day I am afraid of being a mother who messes up her kids beyond repair.  I am not afraid of travelling the world and yet I am afraid to talk to my Indian neighbor and invite her for tea.  I am afraid to learn Russian or to play the piano again, but I do not fear writing this blog (mostly).  I know that I take beautiful unique photographs, but I am afraid of people paying me for my images.  Every shoot I do, I wrestle with the little demon on my shoulder that says that I should turn them down.  I have allowed my fear to make me stop taking pictures.

I allow my fear keep me from lovin’ on other people, many times, because I need others’ validation to tell me I’m okay. Oh how I hate it!  That is why it hit me so profoundly recently that I was squandering my skills as a photographer mainly because I was afraid. My struggle with low self-esteem and too easily needing the word of validation from others keeps me from living my life.  What is this about?

This is about not getting my identity from Christ.

So for me a sermon on the idol of image — this was profound.  I want other people to validate me and not just that, but the people who I decide are important.

When you continuously seek this validation from others you can never stop.  It is never enough.  I believe that was one of the things my father was plagued by and perhaps what fueled his anger — the constant need to do more because he wasn’t good enough. Thankfully the “do more” piece has been worked out of my life through my depression experience when I quit work to be at-home, but the “I’m Not Okay” hole is huge and intense.  And kind of embarrassing to admit.

Of all the crazy, mixed up ideas!  If I actually found my full identity in Jesus there would be nothing to prove!

That would be a life without f.e.a.r.

I have a friend that makes amazing salsa with fresh ingredients chopped just right, in a way that people love.  And they buy jars and jars of her salsa.  So she keeps making it.  I don’t think she would say she’s an entrepreneur.  She’s a very humble person.  She just saw an opportunity in front of her and went for it.  She didn’t have fear holding her back.  I would have had a thousand “what ifs” keeping me from doing it.  I know, because I’ve had a similar idea to sell Mel’s Soups and Pies out of my home kitchen, but I am too afraid of failing.

Just Make the Salsa!

I want to be willing to just “make the salsa!”  Life doesn’t have to be a place where we fear failure all the time, where we worry about what others will think of our actions, where we are constantly protecting the “image” of what others perceive of us.

This fractured, broken life is not the way that God intended it be.  If I can learn to be a reflection of Jesus in my life, then I can lose my f.e.a.r.

Oh God, please help me to receive my validation from you.  Help me to know that your approval is all I really need.  I am your child.  I am loved dearly — beloved.  The rest of it, success or affirmation of others, acclamation is just extra. Help me to rest in you, the source of everything I am, or ever will be.

9 t Do not lie to one another, seeing that u you have put off vthe old self 4 with its practices 10 and w have put on x the new self, y which is being renewed in knowledge z after the image of a its creator. 11 b Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, 5 free; but Christ is c all, and in all.

12 d Put on then, as f compassionate hearts, g kindness, h humility, meekness, and patience, 13 h bearing with one another and, i if one has a complaint against another, g forgiving each other; g as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on j love, which k binds everything together in l perfect harmony. 15 And let m the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called n in one body. And o be thankful. 16 Let p the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, q singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, r with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And s whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, t giving thanks to God the Father through him. —  Colossians 3:9-14

Imagine living without f.e.a.r.


Creativity is an Act of Faith, Like Forgiveness

It’s a simple idea really that life gives us many opportunities to change and we have the choice to continuously grow or remain stuck.  It stuns me when I realize how often and how easily we do choose just that — to be stuck.  We get stuck in bitterness toward another person.  We get stuck in the pain of a transgression or mistake we have made.  I came to the realization recently that I have been stuck creatively for a long time.  And this is connected to lack of forgiveness on my part. It is also connected to putting my achievements artistically and what others think of me ahead of my relationship with Christ.  I took my eyes off Christ and put them on my status and what other people think of me.

Looking Back.

I have long imagined working for an NGO — long before I found my passion for photography.  It started with being a missionary kid and doing that work as my first and only career path. Years ago, I began to see there might be a way to fuse a lifelong passion for service to others with my burgeoning photography skills.  Granted, photographers are a dime a dozen and many are do-gooders that want to serve globally.

I knew my chances were slim to make a living at it, but I was full of passion and enthusiasm in 2008 when I applied and was accepted in a Master’s Photography Class to be held in Cambodia.  When I wrote an email to friends to raise money for the trip I felt honored to be going to Siem Reap to learn.  A close friend that I respected as a photographer wrote back opposed the idea and discouraged me from “wasting my money.”  The details of why he was so sure don’t matter now, but the important thing is that I allowed his comments to become overly significant.  I perceived them to be an assessment of my talent or potential as a photographer and an artist. Too easily I let it crush me and I didn’t end up going to Cambodia.  I talked myself out of it for a variety of reasons and over time that choice and his advice became large and loud in my life.

When I look back I see that this is when I began close down creatively by allowing the idea that I wasn’t “good enough” to wind its way into my marrow and psyche.  I lost confidence in myself and eventually I quit my professional photography pursuits.  More importantly my friend’s untended message eventually became louder in my head than what Jesus thought of me. I was isolated and alone creatively and did not have other voices speaking into my world.

(Although my husband disagrees interjecting here that in his opinion I did have a type of community online.  And lots of other people affirming my work which is true.  I even had someone track me down on Flickr, because of my work.  And that began a creative relationship with Our Lives Magazine which continues today.) But I didn’t know other artists in the community and I felt alone creatively and spiritually.

Let’s be clear. I know that my friend is not responsible for any of the events that transpired after our disagreement.  In retrospect what he said should not have had the power that it did but I lacked creative confidence.  I am only now realizing these things because I am in a healthier place.  I became bitter toward the person and situation. I was unable to enjoy the God-given gift of creativity.  I could not longer enjoy participation with any sort of creative process. And I doubted my artistic talent.  Eventually I quit.  And I was so wrong to do that.

The Healing.

I am working my way through a creative “recovery” of sorts in a book The Artist’s Way.  In it, Julia Cameron says:

“Art is a spiritual transaction.  Artists are visionaries.  We routinely practice a form of faith, seeing clearly and moving toward a creative goal that shimmers in the distance — often visible to us, but invisible to others.

… Art is an act of faith, and we practice practicing it. Sometimes we are called on pilgrimages on its behalf and, like many pilgrims, we doubt the call even as we answer it.”

How true for me.  And I wonder if I had been a part of any kind of artistic community, Christian or otherwise, at the time that I went through this “creative identity crisis” would I have given it up so easily? Why are artists are so isolated and have trouble supporting one another? How do we find community?  

I am not the first to wonder these things.  David Taylor is has thought and written extensively on the subject of supporting artists of faith.  As a pastor at Hope Chapel in Austin, Texas, he oversaw the arts ministry and adult education program. He also edited the book For the Beauty of the Church: Casting a Vision for the Arts. He has degrees in theology (MCS) and biblical studies (ThM) and is doing doctoral studies at Duke University. He wrote the best thing I have read on the topic A Meditation on the Art of Encouragement.

As I have gone through this experience God has put on my heart the question of how Christian artists help one another in the work of integration growing our faith and our creative pursuits?  If I had a mentor as I was starting out with my photography how would things have gone differently?  To continue with Julia Cameron,

“We must remain ready to ask, open-minded enough to be led, and willing to believe despite our bouts of disbelief.  Creativity is an act of faith and we must be faithful to that faith, willing to share it to help others, and to be helped in return.”

Artists need one another in order to be encouraged and mature in their craft.  We need to gather and share what we are working on, talk about how we create and discuss any challenges we may be facing as practitioners regardless of our discipline, skill level, or experience.   An artist’s ongoing creativity and belief in themselves are acts of faith that must be set at the foot of the Cross regularly.  Reaching out to other artists for encouragement and to encourage others are acts act of faith and although scary sometimes it is important enough to take the risk, just as forgiving and letting go of bitterness are also important acts of faith. These beautiful actions as believers require faith in the living God, the power of the Holy Spirit and in the death of Jesus on the Cross for us all.

Becoming UnStuck!

If I can only take my eyes off myself and off the views and opinions of others, and put them where they should be at Jesus feet.  And so recently I began to reach out based on the conviction that we artists need one another!  We need to be encouraged in the “faith” of creativity.  And I could do it because I know now that this isn’t about me and whether I’m good or bad at my art.  It is simply, I believe, right!

I thank God that we can grow and change and experience redemption in the form of healing and that through the resurrection we can become unstuck. That in the very act of forgiving we can lose our bitterness.  I thank God for the promises of Romans 6.

I am grateful that time offers us a panoramic view of our life so that we learn and grow by looking backward.

David Taylor seems to understand what it is like.

“If you asked me to tell you the Top Three Most Important Things I Have Observed throughout all my years as a pastor, one would be this: artists need continuous encouragement. This isn’t because they are a particularly weak. All humans need encouragement. But artists need it principally because of the nature of their work. Their work requires them to travel frequently into the realm of their own emotions, and then deeper still into their soul, and this can be demanding, wearying work.

“The two assumptions that inform my work of encouraging artists are that the natural condition of human beings, from Adam and Eve to the present day, is the condition of being afraid. For artists to become all that God intends for them to be, they must pass through many experiences of pain, each experience ushering them to a new level of growth and maturity.”

Amen and amen.  We must be willing to look back and address the things in our past that have made us stuck spiritually, creatively, or emotionally and forgive ourselves.  I’m grateful that this is what I have been able to do.  And I am praying and looking for ways that  I can play a role in encouraging and supporting other artists in the Madison community.

———

This is a part of a series titled BE REAL.  Still, many days, as I search, as I long for, need, wander, hope and fear — the process becomes an idol.  The process becomes this thing that distracts me from who God is, what it means to be his beloved child, and the few things that he calls me to each day.

  1. I wrote a poem in response to a sermon about the greatest of idols self-identity. This sermon  kicked off a series titled American Idols.  The premise is that anything in your life, even a good thing, that becomes more important than God is an idol.  In an age of psychology and self-healing, through medicines and talk therapy, self-worth can all too quickly become an idol.  For me, the journey of finding my way back to faith and belief was so huge in my development of a healthy identity.
  2. Here is what I wrote the week before in response to the sermon Stop.

These are a series I am writing called: Be Real.  One of the ways I’m going to do that– be real — is by writing a response to the sermons I hear at my church, Blackhawk. These responses are not from the church they are my personal reflections.  I am always challenged by teachers at Blackhawk, sometimes profoundly, but I don’t — to be honest — always take the time needed to apply them to my life. But, if life is too busy to apply what you’re learning about your faith and if you don’t change and grow, what’s the point? So here goes.  Many people are busier than I, including my husband, and I just hope that this helps reinforce in some small way what God was already saying to you.

————————


I Am More (a poem response to Blackhawk’s Sermon “Who Is Your God?”)

I Am More

By Melody Harrison Hanson

The future disturbs,
chases at my sanity and sensibilities.
I am scared of each intake of breath, every thought
and this moment. I am stuck.

The only thing that makes sense is Jesus.
I lean in to Him.  I cry, ready for anything.
If only I could cry actual tears. 
That too soon reminds me I am only partly healed.
I feel barely human.
What kind of person cannot cry?
The weight on my chest is unimaginably heavy. 
Hope is cloying and oppressive.

I am scared of the future, looming dark and cold.
I am afraid of these days I am living now.
I want to believe that eventually this life of mine will have a purpose beyond this day.

I am more than the money I don’t earn.
I am more than the things I do.
I am more than what I give.
I am more than what I take.
I am more than the words I write, slipping them into the cosmos with trepidation.
I am more than merely a daughter, a wife, a mother, and a friend.

Why doesn’t being beloved feel better than this?
In the end I am stuck with myself, I am barely human.

I want it all to mean so much more.  I want
the children I meet to change me.
I want the people I love to make me feel alive.
I want each action I take to mean something.
And yet it is all utterly meaningless unless
Yahweh is everything.

———————————————————————————

This poem is about the greatest of idols self-identity — allowing our meaning and purpose to come from anything but Yahweh.  The sermon at Blackhawk this week kicked off a series titled American Idols.  The premise is that anything in your life, even a good thing, that becomes more important than God is an idol.  In an age of psychology and self-healing, through medicines and talk therapy, self-worth can all too quickly become an idol.

For me, the journey of finding my way back to faith and belief was so huge in my development of a healthy identity.  Still, many days, as I search, as I long for, need, wander, hope and fear — the process becomes an idol.  The process becomes this thing that distracts me from who God is, what it means to be his beloved child, and the few things that he calls me to each day.

Here is what I wrote last week in response to the sermon Stop.  It is a part of a series I am writing called: Be Real.  

One of the ways I’m going to do that– be real — is by writing a response to the sermons I hear at my church, Blackhawk. These responses are not from the church, just my reflections.  I am always challenged by teachers at Blackhawk, sometimes profoundly, but I don’t — to be honest — always take the time needed to apply them to my life. But, if life is too busy to apply what you’re learning about your faith and if you don’t change and grow, what’s the point? So here goes.  Many people are busier than I, including my husband, and I just hope that this helps reinforce in some small way what God was already saying to you.

What do you think about the most?

Photo of the Book of Isaiah page of the Bible
Image via Wikipedia

In reality, the things of God are not on my mind most of the time.  Just when I think I’ve got the material world beaten, I get sidetracked.  Life is full of opportunities to dwell and fixate on things that keep our mind captivated and not thinking about God.

I am not immune to wondering whether my glasses or haircut make a statement—my current fixation is to get thin again.   Possibly your fixations are not material things or wanting the esteem of others, but you have a secret fear or an emotion that overwhelms and makes you do things that you know are wrong.  The Bible clearly tells us that whatever it is that hijacks our time and energy has become an idol to us—whether it is persons, ideas or possessions.

My life is full of idols—everything I obsess about, stupid inanities.  But, God desires that we wholly and fully worship him with everything in our life.  He said that we must choose to resolve in our heart to be different.  We must resolve every day to change our patterns—to choose Yahweh every day.  This is not just an intellectual “making up of our mind” but on some level we must decide every day where we put our affections.

We all have idols.  It is what we do about them that matters most to God.

Isaiah 40 says, lift your eyes and look!  There are moments living in the city that I feel like I cannot see or hear God because I am so distracted by the noise of my life.  So, I drive outside of town and look up at the starry expanse.  It is then that I come face to face with my Creator.  I know with certainty God’s compassion and promise of restoration, that Yahweh forgives me for my idolatry, and I cry, “Oh God, is my heart truly yours? Make it so!”

God is asking for our mind and heart—in our solitude, spending habits, health, body image, need for human approval, self-esteem, reputation, relationships, financial anxiety—in our fixation on anything other than Yahweh.

Let us worship and live for him.

——————————————————————————————————

This is something I was asked to write for Blackhawk Church‘s Fall 2011 teaching series. 

The Illusion of Enlightenment & the Boob Tube

tv

 

My father used to call our television the Boob Tube.  I don’t know where that name comes from, but I always thought he meant if we watched too much we’d turn into “boobs” ie.stupid.

Now that I think about it Boob Tube a horrible name in a house full of women.

He never really said outright that the TV was bad, but we were only allowed to watch four hours a week growing up—yes, that was four hours in a week. Of course we started life in Papua New Guinea with no television at all.  Since I grew up not really understanding what a television was, my first encounter which happened on furlough, was with a small box that showed us the show Sesame Street.

In the early 70s, before remotes, Dad made us one.

It connected to the television with a wire, so technically it was not a remote.  It was basically just a switch to turn off the sound during the commercials.  After all of that sincere effort he was really miffed when my little sister Holly could sing the tunes to the commercials even without sound!  We laughed along with my parents, but really didn’t like it when he turned off the commercials.

I never intended to own a television when I grew up.

Don’t you think it is just what you do?  In the years that Tom and I have been together our lives have been a progression of buying bigger and bigger televisions which then forces us to move rooms around, over and over again, in a desire to create a TV room and the other “peaceful room where we will read, or talk, or listen to music, or make music.”

We’ve called it the Reading Room and the Music Room, but eventually that room, the one without the television, has become a dusty shrine to our lofty ideals and to the illusion of our enlightenment.

We actually spend all of our waking hours in the TV room, other than those spent cooking and sleeping.

Because of this, many times I get pulled into television shows without any willful consideration of their merit.  My youngest likes to watch the show Wipeout (quite possibly the most inane television show I think I have ever seen and yet oddly compelling to my son.)  What comes right after it is a show called Expedition Impossible that immediately drew me in.  I’ve watched it now for three weeks, too lazy to pick up the remote and turn it off.  But this week on Thursday night I have to admit I found myself actually watching the clock for it to start and rushing through washing the dinner dishes, because I’m hooked!

I’m drawn to people being pushed beyond what they believe is their physical, mental and emotional ability.

In this show, a dozen teams of three must work together on mental and physical challenges, with the final team making a bunch of money.    The reason I mention this is that although I am drawn to these sort of things and I am the person who would embrace something like that, in everyday life I’m a wus, a scaredy-cat, afraid of my shadow; these days I feel like a weak and ineffectual person.

Cliff jumping in S. Korea
Image by bzo via Flickr

One of the teams on the show has a team member who is blind.  Yes, blind.  I watched him jump from cliff this week, forty feet down into a river.  He had to trust that his friend would find him, after he comes up.  It is no wonder they called the episode Leap of Faith.   I was blown away!

And beyond what that says about his bravery and trust, I was impressed just by the jump.  I’ve jumped off cliffs like that on a boat trip to Dale Hollow, in Kentucky, and it’s friggin scary.  Some of the men were jumping off these cliffs.  Now, I know intellectually that I am capable of doing anything I want; I just have to overcome the fear. The only reason I did the jump was that there were no other women jumping and I’d been egging on, for fun, this friend who was referring constantly to the “girls” at the office—challenging his calling grown women older than him, girls. And so “for women” I found myself at the edge of a cliff looking down.  I took a leap and jumped.  And then I did again, just to prove to myself that it wasn’t a fluke.  I did have the courage.  It was horrible and frightening and amazing!

If I am capable of doing that why am I so afraid today?

As I sat and thought about what it must take for Erik Weihenmayer, the man who is blind, to do this trek in Morocco, I am blown away by his courage and inner will and utterly ashamed by my apathy and fear of failure, and unwillingness to take risks.  And so I have been thinking all week about why I am so afraid.  And why is he so brave?  He could have let his disability keep him from many things (including this show!) and yet he hasn’t.  I ask you to consider this question:

If you knew you could not fail what would you do?

And, back to the original idea that the television is a bad influence on us, I would assert that it is the single worst “idol” in our culture that I wish I had the courage to give up.