In climbing, one of the first things you need to learn is how to fall. After watching my kids tackle the climbing wall, and after climbing it myself, I understand why. We have to learn to trust the safety line and to descend in such a way that we don’t hit the wall or the handholds. We have all slipped or spun wrong. Ouch.

I figured out the how of descending easy. But trusting the line is so hard. I took my kids to climb again yesterday with zero intentions of climbing again myself after the fiasco of last week.

I sat on the sidelines, watching my youngest figure it out (he’s been waiting his ENTIRE LIFE to turn five and be old enough for the rock wall). First, he just leaned back, letting the line lower him to the floor. Then he jumped up and tucked his feet, again letting the line lower him to the floor. Then he climbed up just a foot or so off the floor, leaned back, and let the line lower him. Each climb he’s go up just a little higher and test fall again. It finally dawned on me, watching him, that I’ve been going about it all wrong. Who climbs to the top and THEN tries to descend? Maybe a dare-devil. Not me. No, most of us learn new things by taking baby steps. Most of us learn to trust someone or something an inch at a time.

I jumped up and headed around to get my harness on. I knew it might feel silly to climb a few feet and drop, but if it would help me learn to trust the line, it would be worth it. This wall didn’t have to beat me, and my son had given me the secret.

I climbed up about five feet, then leaned back and let go. It was easier knowing that even if it dropped me, I was only a few feet from a padded floor. I did it again, getting a feel for how it worked. Climbed a little higher, and leaned back again. Then I went for a harder course and tried to get as high as I could. It was exhilarating to climb without the dread of knowing I hated the descent. It was even better to conquer my fear, let go, and take the line down.

photographic evidence of my rock wall victory

I will probably have to take a test ride or two each time, before I really go for it. But I have a strategy. It feels good.

What lessons have you learned from someone significantly younger? What fears have you overcome lately?

P.S. I leave for Sri Lanka tomorrow afternoon (read more about the trip and who is going here). We will be sharing posts, photos, and videos in all sorts of great places. Here are a few to bookmark: the World Vision blog and Facebook page, my Facebook page and Instagram feed, the Sri Lanka Pinterest board, and the World Vision Sri Lanka Flickr account. And would you pray for us to rest well, stay healthy, and do justice to the people and their stories while we’re there? Thank you!

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