I remember it like it was yesterday. A friend at work announced that he wanted to get a group together to go skydiving. Only two co-workers said that they would like to try. One of them was me. Other co-workers just thought that we were crazy.
The day came and I woke up early to drive across to the other side of the city to meet up with the group that was going. Even though not many of my co-workers went, the organizer guy had a lot of other friends that wanted to give it a try. So I was far from alone.
A couple of trucks got us all to the skydiving site within a couple of hours. It was actually a school because you do have to learn a few things before going for it. There’s a one and a half to two-hour learning process if you’re going tandem (i.e. attached to an instructor) and a seven to eight hour learning process if you’re wanting to go solo. I chose the first version. That was good enough for me.
So, I began this special day by signing consent forms and in case of emergency forms. This alone left me a bit uneasy while I wondering, what have I gotten myself into? But I kept on going forward in the process. Onward to the learning part where I learned what to expect before, during, and after the jump. This didn’t scare me because the learning felt separate from actually doing it. It didn’t feel real yet.
Then came the waiting…
At first I was just waiting to know which group or plane I’d go up in. But then people were noticing that a lot of clouds had rolled into the area. The instructors knew that a very cloudy day isn’t conducive to skydiving because when you’re in the sky you cannot see the ground very well so you don’t know what your route down will be.
Time went by and clouds remained…
After a while, it didn’t seem like I’d get to try skydiving at all. Maybe I was a bit comforted by the possibility of not being able to go but I’m not sure because the reality of jumping still hadn’t set in. I just waited to find out.
Eventually the sky brightened and turned into a partly cloudy day instead of a fully cloudy day. Through the PA system, it was announced that some people would indeed get to skydive today. However, there were a lot of people waiting and there might not be enough time for everyone to go.
They announced the first plane to go up along with the names of the first group of people. This was an all tandem group so there were about fifteen students called which meant about thirty people in the airplane. My name was called! I was kind of hoping that my name would be called in the second or third group so I’d have time to prepare myself some more mentally.
Instead, I dutifully got up and went to where the first batch of students was to meet. The instructors gathered a parachute suitable for a tandem jump and then met with their student. The parachute was attached securely to my instructor and then I was attached securely to the instructor. I was given an altimeter since I was in the front as well as an extra rip cord so that I could pull it in case something happened to the instructor mid-jump. This was definitely a little unnerving to think about.
The instructions and important information that we had learned in class was reiterated and then we all filed into the plane. The plane’s seats had been removed. It was a hollowed out space so we all kneeled on the floor in lines with our instructors behind us.
When everyone was aboard, the doors closed and the plane took off into the air. Then it started to make large circles over the area that continually got higher and higher up into the air. I knew this because I was able to watch my altimeter slowly go up—5,000 feet, 7,000 feet, 9,000 feet, 11,000 feet, and then finally to 13,000 feet. That’s a little over two miles up! Now, I was getting a bit more uneasy.
The door was opened. Cool air rushed in. People began to inch their way toward the opening.
Soon, I was standing at the opening of the airplane. My toes were hanging over as if they were pointing toward some unknown abyss. My instructor counted down and we jumped!
The initial feeling was a surreal one of not feeling any kind of comfort whatsoever. I wasn’t really scared; I just didn’t know what to think. All that I could do was feel the sensation of soaring through the air. I quickly went into skydiving position—arms bent and back and knees bent. Finally, the instructor pulled the cord and I went from a feeling of uncomfortable unknowingness to a feeling of calm peace as I floated slowly downward.
During this unbelievable experience, I learned a few things:
1. Don’t analyze too much. If I would have thought too much beforehand, I probably would have talked myself right out of even trying. I do need to think soberly and pray about my decisions in life. That’s wisdom. But overanalyzing to the point of paralysis isn’t helpful.
2. There may be some waiting time in between learning how to do something and actually doing it. I may feel that I’m ready to go forward but God knows more about the conditions all around me. Sometimes it’s just too cloudy to go forward.
3. The first step or two out of my comfort zone will feel uncomfortable and even scary but if I continue to go forward, I’ll realize that God is holding me securely as I move along my journey of life.
Don’t be afraid to jump out of your comfort zone every once in awhile. You just might have an adventure of a lifetime!
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. ~ Isaiah 40:31
Jennifer Heeren loves to write and wants to live in such a way that people are encouraged by her writing and her attitude. She loves to write devotional articles and stories that bring people hope and encouragement. Her cup is always at least half-full, even when circumstances aren’t ideal. She regularly contributes to Crosswalk.com. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband. Visit her at www.jenniferheeren.com.
Publication date: January 22, 2016