Fears Can Be Conquered
It’s hard for me to reconcile my love of flying trapeze and my fear of heights. I started out with the most basic of tricks—where safety lines secured me to someone on the ground, belaying any mistakes I made by softening my descent to the net—to flying with only my own strength and skills to keep me safe in the air and when landing on the net.
I have always enjoyed the rush of excitement on roller coasters or jumping off the high dive, despite my fear of heights, but trapeze has been more than a rush of excitement. It’s been a way for me to process my fears. Trapeze has been a reminder that my fears don’t define me, and that fears can be conquered. Every time I change something in my swing or trick, I need to acclimate my mind and body with a heightened sense of anxiety due to flying higher or not feeling as comfortable as I had become. This process often looks like the following:
Coach: “You’ve got this!”
I take in a deep breath, blow it slowly. I nod. “I’ve got this,” I say. “I’m ready.”
As the coach swings the bar into my outstretched right hand, I settle my toes in just the right place on the board. Everything feels right.
“Listo!” I call to the catcher, deliberately smiling, as my body prepares itself to do what I love and what terrifies me. I don’t look at the net or the ground below. I focus on the catcher as the catcher swings into position.
I can do this, I tell myself.
I dip one end of the trapeze bar as I squat slightly.
I spring off the board, grip the bar with my left hand as my body simultaneously listens for the coach’s directions while my body moves in the air.
Coach: “Sweep Back. Force up and out!”
My body fights gravity to push myself into a position that takes me higher.
Coach: “Hollow. Sweep.”
Using all my muscles, I contract in, then push out to drive my body even faster and higher.
Coach: “Up and into position.”
I curl my body up to force my feet between myself and the bar. I am now upside down. I do a split-second check of my body’s position. Tightening my form, I give myself a reaffirming acknowledgement that all is well.
I release the bar opening my body straight as I look up for the catcher. We’re lined up perfectly.
I hold my hands straight out and wait for the slap of our forearms connecting. As soon as I feel their hands grip my forearms, I grip back. Our bodies swing in a similar pendulum.
“Sweep. Force up and out. Hallow. Sweep,” the catcher tells me. And then, “PRESS!”
I press with all my strength on their arms as they release me. Suddenly, there is nothing holding me up. My body rises up before floating down, and I land safely on my back in the net.
Each time I confront something in my life that gives me anxiety, I remind myself that I was able to confront my anxiety in trapeze by pushing myself to do the things that make me uncomfortable, make me stronger, and, ultimately, that make me better.
When Jesus called Peter out of the boat to walk on water (Matthew 14:28–29), I don’t see this as a test but a tool. Jesus was giving Peter an opportunity to put his faith into action, and a way for Peter to remember God’s faithfulness in the inevitable challenges ahead. God has given me tangible ways to deal with my anxiety and a way to remember His faithfulness. God has provided me with the tools I need to overcome the challenges I meet.
What challenges and fears are you feeling called to face in 2023? What steps can you take to prepare yourself to face them with courage? May God bless you with the peace that comes from remembering, You’re not alone—not ever. And, You’ve got this!
Text provided by Becky Mouw Johnson.
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