“How do you learn to climb a tree, Nana?”
Isley was staring up into the branches of a large-limbed live oak tree. Head cocked way back.Very tall tree. Very small girl.
“You try. You just start climbing. It might not be easy, but you won’t learn if you don’t try.”
She pondered that. She looked up again.
“It’s really big. I could fall.”
Frankly, there was no way that child was going to climb that tree. Without a harness. And a net beneath her. I don’t think I could have gotten her to the first branches if she was standing on my head.
Not wanting to be Dayle Downer, not wanting to lose the grandparental opportunity to teach a point, I responded.
“Yup, you could fall.”
As I looked around, however, I saw a tree with low branches that looked tailor-made for short climbers.
“Maybe we need to try another tree.”
She followed me to the climber-friendly tree and assessed it with a keen eye. Hands on hips, she looked up and down the trunk and the low branches. I knew she’d be shimmying up those limbs like a monkey.
“Will you help me? I don’t want to fall.”
The branch was three feet off the ground. Like an elephant had sat on the low branch and bowed it permanently to the ground. I was puzzled by her fear and hesitation. I helped her up, thinking she’d sit up and look around. She, however, lay on her tummy, clinging to the branch as if she were hovering over a gator-infested river.
“It’s OK, Isley. I’m not going to let you fall.”
My daughter, Debbie, was with us. “Hey, Isley, I’ll come sit with you.” She plopped on the branch by her niece. Isley slowly sat up. Looked at Debbie, then at me. And grinned
“Look at me, Nana! I’m climbing a tree!”
For the next 35 minutes, she practiced scooting back and forth on the branch. She grew in courage and even managed to drop to the ground. Again and again.
“I’m a real tree climber now. Right, Nana?”
Isley’s three. The opportunities for her to climb trees have been minimal, at best. She has had experiences falling. From places high enough to cause concern when height is an issue. She didn’t need to fall out of a tree to know that she could.
I find I can become fearful when attempting challenges, especially since I’ve “fallen” before. There are times when protecting myself from possible pain seems better than putting myself out there and failing. Like speaking in front of a group of people. Or being put in charge of a project that seems to tap into all my weaknesses and none of my strengths.
Fear of failure can paralyze me.
God knows that we as people have hidden fears. I’m not alone in this. But those shouldn’t drive our decisions. Our perceptions.
“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7
Like Isley, I want to do the great things. The tough challenges. Fear comes because I worry what I’ll look like if I fail.
I need to trust my fears–and choices–to God. He cares about me more than anyone else ever could.
He just may lead me to another tree.
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