I was going to title this post "Pole Vaulting," but that is an actual thing and I actually cannot do it. I guess my moral compass draws the line between clever titles and illicitly claiming prowess in Olympic sporting events. Hmm...
This weekend was the kick-off retreat for the new Leadership Houston class, which I am co-chairing this year. This will be my third year working with LH, and I just love it. It combines two of my favorite things--Houston and community leadership--in one organization. Anyway, it seems like a really great group of people and it should be a fantastic year. But I have to tell you, even though the focus is on building cohesion in this new group of people, I spent the weekend seeing a lot of parallels between the activities and what is going on in my life right now.
For instance, one of the team-building exercises involved class members taking turns climbing to the top of a thirty-foot telephone poll, standing up straight, and then jumping six feet forward in the hopes of catching the brass ring that is suspended there. There were two polls to choose from, one had a 16"x24" platform at the top, the other had nothing at the top. I chose the platform one myself, but was incredibly impressed at the number of class members that took the no-platform option.
Climbing to the top of the poll was really easy for me. I have been on enough rock walls that evenly spaced staples were a cakewalk to climb. And even getting on the platform was not too tough. No, the really tough part for me was standing up. See, I guess you wouldn't know this unless you've climbed one, but telephones sway when there is weight at the top (especially if that weight is shifting around like a nervous person). I knew I was on a harness, so I was not afraid of falling per se, but I certainly didn't want to have climbed all the way to the top only to miss out on that brass ring. Not only that, but as one of the group's leaders, I would have felt like a failure not being able to complete the task, and like I let everyone else down.
Well, through no small amount of maneuvering on my knees, I finally figured out how to get to my feet. It was NOT easy to do with the platform constantly shifting under me, and with thirty feet between me and the ground. But I did it, and once I was upright the leap for the goal was a piece of cake. Today, as I was reflecting on the exercise, it made me think about how I handle uncertainty in general. Lord knows we have plenty of it lately, that's for sure! But that's not really unique. Everyone has uncertainty in their lives. The truth is, most of us are called on at some point to try and move forward on shaky ground. Figuring out how to stand tall when the ground under your feet seems to be constantly shifting is a tough tough job.
At the end of the day, what made me finally take a deep breath and go for it on that platform was knowing that I was harnessed, and that if I fell I would not fall far. And that I had to try. There's the same kind of safety in knowing that if I am living for Christ, even if I fail and fall, I won't fall far because he's there to catch me. But you know, with God it's even better than that. One thing that the activity coach told us is that the poll doesn't shake. He said that if it feels like the poll is shaking, it is because of us, not the poll. Wow, how true is that about my walk with God? See, the world may make me think that my foundation is shaky. But maybe that's because I'm building on the wrong foundation. Or maybe it's because I'm faltering, which makes it feel like the foundation is faltering as well. What I learned this weekend is that when you finally just go for it, the shaking stops and you can stand tall.
I did get that brass ring, and I brought it home with me. I think I'll keep it as a reminder of the lesson: steadfastness. The less shaky I am, the more I recognize my firm foundation. And if my stillness does not show the firmness of the foundation, it's time to reevaluate where I'm standing.
BTW> Kendrick McCleskey from church is in the Leadership Houston class and took video of this episode. If he sends it to me, I will upload it here.