Hanging in the Air

February 27, 2017

Personal Growth, Stress Management

My friend Paul wrote me and stated, “I'm stuck in a place where I can’t or won’t trust. I know you’re offering to help me, because you've been there and you know the way out. And you care about me. But I'd have to trust you completely. No doubts. I don't know if I can.”

I told him a story:

Years ago I was a leader of older Boy Scouts for several years. One of the activities we did regularly was rappelling, where the boys used ropes and metal descending devices to walk backward down the face of a cliff to the rock floor below.

Properly done, rappelling is quite safe, far safer than riding in a car on a city street, for example. Occasionally, however, problems occur.

Under my direction, Michael, age 14, was descending the rope when he became frightened and began to thrash around on the rope and let go of the proper hand positions. By the time he stopped screaming, he was upside down and had his clothing thoroughly twisted in the metal friction devices that were designed to slow the rope running through them.

It was a mess, and without help he might still be there. So, I tied another rope to a tree at the top of the cliff and descended to Michael’s location. He was terrified. I untangled him as well as I could, but it was obvious that his weight on the rope was making it impossible to untangle his clothing from the descending devices.

I determined that if Michael would climb on my back, we could take weight off his rope and untangle the mess. After explaining this to him, he screamed loudly that he would never let go of his rope, which would have made his rescue impossible. I explained more firmly—much more firmly—that he WOULD be getting on my back, after which he complied.

Michael got on my back, I untangled the mess, and he descended to the ground.

Considerable faith was required on Michael’s part to let go of his rope and climb on my back, all at one hundred fifty feet above the rocks below. He trusted me with his life.

Similar faith is required before we can untangle the knots of our lives emotionally and spiritually. We have to let go of the principles of the past—principles we thought were true all our lives—and hang on to the backs of people who know more about love, life, and happiness than we do. We need these people to lift us to safety.

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