Vava is a fearless jumper. That kid will climb and leap right along with her big brother, scamper up a ladder and stand on top of slides and jump to the ground instead of sliding down. At home, she is allowed to jump from the fourth step - and she regularly asks if she's big enough to jump from the fifth, promising me cheerfully that she'll be careful not to die. I love it. I love that she's brave and bold and determined. I value the skills of risk management that she displays - she's aware of her physical limits but instead of being fearful, she's challenged by them.
Not in every way, though. She is not an upside-down fan. She has always hated being held upside down, leaning too far backwards, or feeling at all like she's about to learn practical gravity head first. (She comes by it honestly - I can't stand the disorientation of being upside down.)
Every time she needs help in the bathroom, I hear a little gasp of fear when I ask her to lean forward and rest against my legs so I can wipe her little backside. Tonight she sighed with relief as she hopped off the toilet. "That's the scariest feeling in the world," she explained, "leaning."
And I felt like God was holding up a mirror in front of my soul.
Leaping? Climbing? Doing sudden and big things when He makes it clear to my heart that He wants me to? No problem. I can make that jump. Like Vava with high places, I know Him. I've tested some of the big ladders and I know what happens. Trusting Him in big circumstances is a whole lot of thrill. I can jump from that fifth step and remain confident that He will be faithful. I can hurl myself off a ladder, because I've landed gleefully on that pile of cushions at the bottom before.
When I felt that God wanted me to volunteer in Zambia for a year, it wasn't hard to say yes. He had been preparing my heart for an adventure, for the cost, for being away from my family. That kind of jumping is dizzying ... but delicious. It's got direction and speed and the difference it makes is huge. And it's fun.
But leaning? Trusting on someone else to hold me up? Choosing to let go of control for an uncertain length of time and depending on them to make sure I'm okay? I'm not so good at that kind of disorientation. I'd prefer to be the boss of which end is up, to see where I'm going and decide just when my feet leave the ground.
Leaning is that everyday kind of faith, the kind that obeys the ordinary command in scripture to discuss offences with the person who offended you instead of gossiping about them with everyone else (won't that be awkward?). It's the faith that prays for a gentle heart in the face of irritation and misunderstanding (it would be such a relief to roll my eyes or snap some sarcasm right now!). It's the faith that trusts that God is there even when you haven't had any thrilling little hints of His presence (oh sure ... like He really cares to hang around while I'm making a casserole *zzz*).
Leaning is boring and difficult and scary. And the temptation to give up and just stand on my own strength is a lot bigger than when He invites me to jump.
But there are some things that require leaning. Logically, if I can trust God when He asks me to leap, I shouldn't find it hard to trust Him when He asks me to lean.
But I do.
I start to worry the leaning won't end. I start to fear what might happen if He decides not to hold me up. I - not intentionally, but unconsciously - think I'll be better at holding myself up than He is.
And instead of remembering those everlasting arms, I just think about falling. And that ... that's the scariest feeling in the world.
My little mirror is right. Jumping is exciting and fun. The scariest feeling in the world?