There’s a giant rock in Waimea Bay that people cliff jump off of. Many of the locals have grown up jumping off of it since they were young and you can often find a line of people of all ages and backgrounds waiting for their turn off the cliff. But not me. I’ve been to Waimea Bay countless times and twice I went with the intention to jump, but didn’t. And then I told myself that I would jump before I left for the race, but I didn’t.
People often use the word brave to describe me. And in many ways, I do consider myself brave. Many big ways actually. But there are smaller things (that are big to me) that most people don’t know about me that make me feel the opposite of brave. Like the fact that at 29 years old, I don’t know how to ride a bike because I’m afraid I’ll fall. Or that I had to hold my breath to jump off of a ledge that was only 2 feet tall today. Or that my first time camping was at training camp for the race. Or that there’s that big rock in Waimea that I keep avoiding. I’m actually quite fearful in my day-to day life. As a young girl, I quickly became my mom’s best friend and my brother’s second mama. Our little tribe of 3 was our first priority and simple things like playing outside, getting dirty, and jumping on beds just didn’t have a space in our lives. My mama was (is) extremely protective of us and the older I get, the more I realize how much it’s affected me. But she did the best she could and ironically, my childhood may be the root of a lot of my fears but it’s also the root of my courage.
A few days ago after classes with our translator, our host family surprised us with a spontaneous trip to one of the island’s natural pools. It was the day of the inauguration of America’s 45th President and it had been a heavy-hearted day for me full of tears and frustration. I really felt like this little trip was another wink from God and He never disappoints.
We were so eager to see a part of the island that we had not seen yet. We walked through the gates to this little place of adventure and saw a diving board that went straight off the edge of the island into the Caribbean sea below. Beside the diving board was a huge slide that went into the same vast sea. The other six girls on my team lit up with excitement. I on the other hand could feel knots forming in my stomach and my heart began to race. We changed into our swimsuits and the girls went straight to the diving board. Initially I said I’d stay out of the water to watch our things – this was a classic move of mine. But our host family kept insisting that they’d watch everything which left me out of excuses. So to the line I went. It felt like less than a second and it was already my turn. Before I could even step on the board, I turned away and said I couldn’t do it. The girls on my team kept encouraging me and all I could really do was try my hardest to hold back tears.
When I applied to the race I realized that the reasons I hadn’t applied sooner were all fear-based. And it was then that I decided that I won’t let fear stop me again. Maybe health or circumstances could stop me, but not fear. Fear won’t stop me from being obedient to God’s calling for me. And if I truly believe that statement, then how hypocritical is it of me to be fearful of something like a diving board? This is the conversation I was having with myself in my head. So back to the board I went.
It was my turn again. My heart was racing, my chest was tight. I prayed. I stepped onto the board and quickly walked to the end before I could change my mind again. I turned back to the girls and they said encouraging things that I can’t even really remember because it all happened so fast. I kept saying “I trust you” over and over again in my head and then I said it aloud just as I stepped off the ledge. I jumped.
The whole world got quiet. I hit the water and still silence. It was like the whole world paused. I came up for air and looked around. People were talking and laughing and swimming and the next person was ready to jump. The world kept spinning and no one knew the big thing that had just happened inside of me. I realized that it was the first time, in a long time, that I truly put 100% of my trust in Him, giving up all of my control. I not only told Him that I’m all in, I showed him.
I couldn’t believe I did it! I still can’t really believe it. I even slid down the giant slide afterwards while my adrenaline was still running high. Now don’t get me wrong – none of it was fun for me and if we go back, I don’t think I’ll do it again. My stomach is literally in knots as I write this post and relive it. But it’s important to me that I did this. It’s significant. It’s another wall broken down and it makes me feel stronger and closer to Him.
One day I’ll face that big rock in Waimea Bay. But for now, I’m proud of the jump off of a diving board in the Caribbean Sea.