This phrase always reminds me of the third Indiana Jones movie when Indy is almost to the end of the quest for the chalice and he crosses the bridge he can't see. I'm pretty sure in the movie he does actually refer to it as a Leap of Faith. These are great words, an inspiring expression to use to motivate yourself or others to move ahead with something in their or your life. Words are wonderful ways to create a drive for change or momentum and can initiate change. But it is the action of the change that requires true courage. Both are important, but without that action words fall short.
I have been in the midst of some pretty big changes in my life. I'm in the process of letting some things go and moving in a new direction. All exciting changes, but pretty scary as well, to let go of the familiar and actually chose to act in a new way. Changes of any sort can be pretty overwhelming whether its starting a new exercise regime, changing your diet, letting go of relationships that are no longer working or starting a new job. These types of changes to your lifestyle require you to trust in the unknown and that through this process you are going to be ok, better than ok, through the journey. But taking that very first step and working up the courage to do so is the bravest part of making a change.
My new thing for August summed the actual physical fear and overcoming a leap of faith. For the past year or so, I've wanted to jump of a bridge into water. I admit, it is a little silly for a fully grown up and responsible mother of two to want to have any urge to jump off of anything, let alone a bridge. But I have been wanting to do it. I can't explain it.
There is a fantastic park in my town that I walk through regularly and in it, a bridge, I cross a couple times a day. It is a beautiful bridge.
In the summer, teenagers jump into the river and it looks like a lot of fun. It is also pretty high from the water, but the water is deep enough. I have envisioned myself taking that leap of faith and jumping into the water repeatedly. I imagine the freedom that I would feel during the fall and how great it would feel to hit the water.
After talking about wanting to jump for a while, my husband said "Alright, let's do it." We picked our weekend we were going to jump. Somehow the word spread to our families and both of our parents came to watch along with some of our siblings and their spouses. No chance of backing out at this point. To top the pressure of having family come to support us on this insane thing that no one over 20 should be doing, there were some tourists in the park recording our jump.
We decided to jump separately in case either one of us piked or landed on the other. My husband went first. When it was my turn, I stepped over the side of the bridge and looked down. I was really far from the water. Really far.
I clung to the side of the bridge completely regretting my words. I should also mention that I am the type of person who hesitates to jump in from the side of the pool. I would much rather use the ladder or slide in off the side of the deck.
So on the side of the bridge, people cheering me on, me clinging for dear life. Minutes ticked by. My husband said I was up there for 8 minutes. The video of my jump was 42 seconds. I haven't felt as physically scared of something in a long time, I literally thought I was going to faint. I even started to jump then pulled back.
Then I thought to myself - really what was the worst thing about taking that step off the bridge that would happen? There was enough water to land in and something inside me wanted to jump for a really long time. So I let go.
I hit the water and when I surfaced everyone was cheering. Swimming to shore, I was asked if I thought I'd jump again and immediately said "No." Once was enough - I did it.
I've thought often over the past few weeks about the feeling I had when I was so torn about taking that step and feeling so much fear about letting go. Often when we face the opportunity to make that change in our lives that we have wanted for so long it is the fear of the unknown or perhaps possible discomfort that cements us in place. But if we can trust in ourselves that we were right in our decision for ourselves to want a change or a difference in the first place we can have the courage to take that leap.