I will never forget my first experience of abseiling as part of an emergency team training session. It was such a dipolar experience. Stepping over the edge was a gargantuan challenge, yet once i was over the precipice the rest of the exercise was pure technique, not to mention enjoyable.
As i did, and i feel for you if you have a fear of heights, i felt my sense of equilibrium tested and stretched. My body was hard and my grip was tight, revealing that i had illogical trust issues that defied what i knew to be true – this system of abseiling could be 100% trusted. Yet.
In manifold fear, action speaks volumes, as involuntary responses take over. Once i was over the edge, all of the challenge evaporated, and the rest of the exercise was easy. Indeed, it was one of those experiences you just want to do again and again, having overcome the initial hurdle.
The exercise of abseiling seems to me to be pretty close to the exercise of healing one’s inner dialogue of pain and trauma. Of course, this assumes that the therapy is safe, where any risk of fall would be eliminated. The abseiling analogy imagines that the hardest part of plumbing our grief and trauma is stepping over the edge, of trusting our pain to a process, of knowing we will come out intact on the other side.
Stepping out over the edge where we feel we might fall is terrifying. Such a fear needs to be validated, listened to, valued, and addressed. We don’t know if we will be re-traumatised.
We don’t know how we will respond emotionally, and having unscrewed the lid, we need confidence to know we will be able to contain it. If we haven’t experienced it, we are forgiven for having all manner of reservation. I think the best therapist in these situations is the one who has unexpected levels of compassion, the copious grace of empathic patience, and mastery over their ability to discern.
They almost make it too safe. They make their interventions double- and triple-safe. We step out and over the edge safely and into the destiny of our awaiting future beyond our fears.
Overcome a hurdle and the next similar hurdle is no such worry. God has ordained for each of us this life that we live. It is all we have, so we make the most of the opportunity.
If we shrink back now and don’t make the most of the days we have, we very well miss what is ours alone to have. Today is the day to step forward into the day’s destiny.