You see that image? That’s me with a massive smile while jumping out of a plane at 14,000 feet on my 29th birthday. I didn’t know what to expect. But I decided to go skydiving to overcome a childhood fear of heights. In many ways, overcoming fear and anxiety is similar to jumping out of a plane. It takes faith. It takes courage. But when you actually do it, I mean, when you are out of the plane floating midair with nothing but the wind carrying you, it is the most exhilarating feeling. You don’t feel that pit in the stomach sensation one feels during the drop of a rollercoaster. Instead, you feel weightless. You feel like an eagle soaring with invisible wings. I imagine it’s the closest thing to the feeling of flight.
Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" is one of my favorite songs to jam out to when lifting weights at the gym. The title paints the portrait of Tom Petty jumping from a plane with a guitar strapped on his shoulders. As it turns out, the song is about gaining freedom after leaving a relationship. That said, the listener doesn't have to be in a romantic relationship to enjoy the song. Sometimes we form relationships with routines, with ways of doing things that may be comfortable but not the most beneficial. Life can feel secure when we live in the mundane. Life can feel safe when you choose to play small. But then the real question you have to ask yourself is, are you thriving? Do you wake up every morning with the buzz and rush of living out your dreams? Or do you roll out of bed dreading the hours ahead because life is not as exciting as you’d like it to be? Only you have the answer to that question.
To thrive: means to prosper, to flourish. In the Book of Jeremiah, chapter 29 verse 11, Jeremiah writes, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” This passage from the bible lets the reader know that God wants you to thrive. Regardless of what anyone tells you, you have permission from God to thrive in life. In fact, it is God’s plan for all of us to thrive in our own way. If your life is not prospering or thriving you should take time to do a personal inventory of your life and circumstances to see what is lacking.
As a Christian, the very thought of living out your dreams can feel selfish. Many of us are led to believe from a young age that life should be self-sacrificing. But when you view life through a larger lens, you can see that God has gifted everyone with particular talents and skills to serve the world at large. "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17. Pursuing your dreams creates space for more meaningful relationships and opportunities that add value. It is possible to serve and sacrifice while pursuing your dreams.
Although I would highly recommend skydiving. Jumping out of a plane is not the only way to pursue a fulfilling life. Perhaps it’s learning a new language you have always been curious about or asking that beloved out on a date.
One lesson I will treasure from the skydiving episode is that fear is generated in the mind. The most terrifying part about skydiving is having to confront the thoughts that float through your head while you are seated on the plane and ascending to the drop at 14,000 feet. All of that fear dissipates when you jump off the plane, and you are overcome by the thrill of being carried by the wind.
Until next time,