I remember doing some crazy things as a kid. One day we got a trampoline for the backyard. My dad spent days digging out this special spot in the back to put it. The trampoline needed a large amount of flat area and so he leveled the ground and put it together for us. That spot was cool for awhile but since it was dug into the ground, it didn’t make it seem like you were jumping as high.
After awhile my brother and I decided that we wanted to move it to a different area and try it out. We enlisted the help of our friend Brent and we moved the trampoline to all different areas in the backyard. One area in particular really ticked off our neighbor / arch nemesis Mrs. Good. Her fence got low toward the back of her yard and we placed the trampoline in that area. She didn’t like the fact that we could see her entire backyard with ease.
One day she confronted us about the trampoline and told us that we had placed it on common ground. She told us that we had to move it. Me and Chris were no dummies and knew that the trampoline was not in a common area. When she turned around to leave I had a few choice words for her. She turned around and look right at my brother and said “What did you say to me?” He stood silent because he didn’t say anything. She said “That’s what I thought” and she walked away.
We decided that we ought to find another place to put the trampoline. The trampoline ended up right next to the deck of our pool. It didn’t take me long to figure out how to take the fence apart so we could use the deck to jump onto the trampoline. The deck was at least ten feet off the ground so it made an awesome platform!
My brother and Brent would challenge me to do all sorts of insane stuff off the deck. I used to wear these shirts that said “No Fear” and whenever I would chicken out they would say “No Fear!” I would find the courage to do whatever stupid thing they came up with at that point. One of the things they asked me to do was to jump off the deck backwards onto the trampoline. Jumping off like that felt like you were never going to hit anything. You just kept falling and falling and then you finally feel the trampoline and your heart can start beating again!
My fear didn’t stop me from doing anything that was external to me. I had always jumped off that deck and knew that I would come out on the other side. Although this fear would be paralysing to others, I knew how to deal with it. My fears were of a different type. My fears were the things I saw that did not come out right on the other side; my parent’s relationship.
It was the fear that I didn’t even know I had. I saw my parents fight all the time. They would yell and scream at each other. I knew things used to be different. They didn’t start out life together hating each other. Things must have changed.
Looking back at those events I can see a direct relationship between the battles I face now and what was happening then. Today I would still happily jump out of a perfectly good airplane to feel the rush of excitement of skydiving. But, if you asked me commit myself to someone else, I would become uneasy. Questions like “How do I know who this person really is?” and “What if things between us change?” come flooding into mind. How do you know that person is going to be willing to work on that relationship if things start to go bad? My only experience in the matter tells me that they won’t work it out.
But these fears are not absolutely true. I may think I know what my parents were going through and what was going on but, I don’t. I can’t crawl inside their brains and know what they were thinking. And even though I might have one example of marriage failing, I have many more examples of marriage succeeding. Both sets of grandparents I have were only separated by death, not divorce.
Why is this important? Why does it matter if my fears are true or not? They seem true to me and that is what matters, right? Not really. Understanding is completely relative. Something that appears one way to you may appear completely different to me. The facts are absolute but the understanding is relative. This is important because you have the choice on how you come to an understanding of the things around you.
If you change the basis for understanding, then you change the fear. I thought that I knew what my parents were thinking and going through. When I acknowledge that I don’t know what they were thinking, it changes the fear from believing I understand the absolute truth to realizing my understanding of the situation may, or may not be true. If the fear itself may or may not be true then I can test it. I have to determine for myself if that fear is justified or not.
I encourage you to explore your fears. Sit down and list them out. Ask yourself why you fear those things. Don’t settle for the obvious answer. Dig down by asking yourself why? It may take several levels of why before you get to the root answer. If you can’t list out your fears then while you go about living life and encounter a sense of fear, or anger, just ask yourself why? Why do I act this way? What situations in my life am I trying to avoid?
In my life this has yielded a lot of excitement. I took the time to discover who I am and why I act the way I do. You’re a much deeper person than you think you are. I will write more about self reflection in the future but for now, this should get the process started. As the late Whitney Houston says in the song The Greatest Love of All, “I found the greatest love of all inside of me.” If you have Jesus in your heart then this is true.