Saturday, November 16, 2019

Sometimes You Need to Take The Plunge

Maybe you can relate.

“Watch me dive off the high board, Dad,” my ten-year-old son called out. I looked up to the ten-foot-high diving board and waited as he stood at the edge, stooped over, arms extended. He had jumped off the high board many times before, but now his nerve seemed to falter as he contemplated streaking through the air headfirst. 

The swimming pool was vacated, so he could take his time. “You can do it, Robby,” I encouraged. But he couldn’t. Not that evening. For 20 minutes he attempted to muster the courage to make the plunge, and he finally gave up when the pool closed for the night.

“I feel disappointed in myself,” Robby said on the way home. “I feel terrible. I know I can do it, though. I know I can.” 

He persuaded me to take him swimming again the next evening. Like the night before, we happened to be the only swimmers. “I’m going to do it this time,” he said emphatically. “Watch me!”

He climbed the ladder and walked to the end of the board as I watched. Again I encouraged him. Again he hesitated. As the previous night, his nerve failed. It seemed that he would never conquer his fear and leap.

The lifeguards on duty (probably the same ones from the evening before) helped me cheer him on this night. They came alongside the diving board. “You can do it, Robby,” we all exhorted. “Just do it! Don’t think about it. Just do it!” 

For 30 minutes we encouraged him. For 30 minutes he started and stopped, he leaned and straightened and fought the fear that held him back.

And then it happened. He extended his arms, bent over the edge and fell headfirst into the water. He emerged to the sounds of laughter and congratulations. He did it! He finally did it! And before he went home, he did it three more times.

Robby learned three important lessons that evening. First, he learned about facing his fear. It won’t go away if we don’t do the thing we’re afraid to do. Diving got a little lass scary for him every time he did it.

Second, he learned that hard things are easier when people cheer us on. We can do almost anything with enough encouragement from our friends.

And he learned one final thing. He learned that some things can’t be done with less than full commitment. A chasm cannot be leaped in two small jumps and a dive cannot be made a little at a time. Sometimes you just have to take the plunge. 

Come to think about it, he may have learned something else, too. When you take the plunge and succeed at that thing you were afraid to do, is there any better feeling in the world? 

Robby didn’t think so.

--Steve Goodier

Image: Halberstadt