By Darcy Wiley
She’s the youngest of the line-up, but she straps on her gear all the same. We pull the belts through the buckles and double back through to cover up the word “danger” engraved on the metal. She scoots around to show me her shoes are too big. They’re the smallest size behind the desk.
We clip the carabiner to connect the harness and rope and my husband takes hold. Our four-year-old tilts her head back and looks toward the industrial-height ceiling. At the very top of the wall, she spies a rock that looks like a baby. She’s determined to get to it.
Grabbing two rocks within reach, she puts the rubber-soled tips of her too-big shoes on the lowest stepping stones. She raises her foot to the next level and lunges up, over and again until her tiny frame is almost to the red line.
We cheer her on. She looks down at her Daddy holding the rope, then she looks at the ceiling. Up so high, but still so far to go, she hunts around for the next rock. None is an easy reach.
“I can’t do it,” she says with her eyes squinted. Just then, her foot slips. She swings out and rams back into the wall.
“Get me down, Daddy,” she cries.
A lot of my life, I’ve dragged my feet in fear, sometimes giving up because I didn’t think I had the necessary ingredients to conquer the task before me. I feared giving up the training wheels on my bike. I feared being forgotten in the carpool line at school. I feared horrific accidents when my parents stayed out late on date nights. I feared being an outcast for dressing the wrong way, bouncing like a pinball between dressing “modestly” for the church folks and fashionably for the school girls. I feared driving when the instructor’s knuckles showed through her fingers as she gripped the safety handle. After that, I didn’t get my license until I was 17. Fear is contagious. Fear lives long.
Fear feels like part of you when you’ve had it on your shoulders all these years, but you see it differently when you’re watching it have its way with someone you love. I knew that my daughter was strong enough to scale that rock wall and I knew if she could just stop agreeing with the fear, she could find her footing and follow the path to the top.
I had conquered the rock wall a long time ago, so I put the carabiner and rope to my own harness and asked my husband to belay while I climbed. Scaling the wall was easy with my long legs and arms, though I still kept checking that my husband was pulling the rope. My kids gasped and yelled out “Good job, Mommy!” as I touched the top.
Before I was even halfway down, my daughter began jumping up and down saying it was her turn again. She climbed section after section of the wall and when she slipped, she soared out and said she was flying like Peter Pan. Finally, with the sound of hollering and applause, she made it all the way to the top to touch the baby rock.
Maybe fear is contagious, but so is fearlessness. There are little people under me who get courage from watching me muscle through the gauntlet. It makes me want to listen better to those cheering me on, those who can see that things aren’t as bad as fear is making them out to be, the ones telling me I can do this.
Darcy Wiley is a writer married to a literary agent, a world-traveler turned stay-at-home mom, and a blogger capturing everyday mercies and wide-eyed wonder at MessageinaMasonJar.com. At the Broken Beautiful BOLD Event, she will be sharing a whole slew of ways that life has gone wrong for her in the past and help you craft your own personal version of Psalm 136 as you hear what God did to save the day in each of Darcy’s impossible situations. The event’s theme of boldness is especially apropos as she is curating the Fear:Less anthology made up of pieces from her vibrant Indianapolis-based writers’ group, Plume, this year. Darcy would love to connect with you via her blog, Facebook or Twitter.