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Facing Fear on the Challenge Course

I was inspired by a recent blog article I read from Words of Barrett. The story of his challenge course experience reminded me of facing my fear on the power pole. I went on from that experience to face many other fears using the experience I had that day. I thought I’d share the story of that day with you.

The Power Pole

My eyes wandered up the forty-foot telephone pole, lingering a moment at the top. The gentle tug of the rope told me that everyone was ready and awaited my first command.

I took a deep breath. The cool evening air mixed with the butterflies fluttering in my stomach. My fear of heights lingered in my mind as I began the familiar commands that gave me permission to begin climbing.

I began up the ladder as with every other pole I’d climbed in my two years on this challenge course, yet a foggy mist still blurred the edges of my vision. Within moments I left the ladder for the cold steel staples of the pole. I was intimately familiar with these staples, they were all over the challenge course, but this time was different. Reaching the top staples, my body froze. This was the crux, the part of the climb where I’d seen so many others hesitate. I never understood their fear until now. With nowhere for the hands to go, this was the first leap of faith.

In that half crouched position, my hands supporting my shaking body, I could not see how I would ever stand on the top of this pole. Holding the position was torture. Within minutes I was shaking. After forty-five, I knew I could hold it no longer. With a final thrust, I stood on top of the pole, my target behind me. Slowly turning around, my vision became a tunnel, blacking out my periphery.

“One,” the word came hesitantly from my mouth.

“Two,” I quaked with nervousness.

“Three,” this was it. Everything came down to this. The walls of fear, built on years of hiding, threatened to suffocate me

“Jump,” my feet moved forward, dragging my reluctant body. The fear came with me, but the walls stayed behind. In this moment everything had changed. I held my fear in my hands: to heed or to face, but never to submit again.

Later that year I would use those same words: “one, two, three, jump.” Only this time it would be before facing a teacher who was abusing his authority. It would be the first time I had ever stood up to authority before, but I would do it, and I would succeed.

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