Jumping In

Originally posted 7/30/15

I made a really important life decision when I was 15.

I was at summer camp, lying on a fun island in the lake while watching people go off the rope swing.

My friend Beka got up there (all fit and fabulous) and swung out, somersaulted in the air and landed perfectly in the water. I had been wanting to try the rope swing because it looked really fun, but then my inner voice started babbling on about how I don’t trust my upper body strength and how I will definitely look clumsy and chubby so I should just pretend like I’m not interested.

And then it dawned on me- I don’t want to just watch people enjoy life, I want to participate. If a rope swing sounds fun to me, I should try it. Even if it scares me a little. So before I swam back to shore that day, I made a decision. 

I will not miss out on opportunities to participate in life because I am afraid of how I’ll look doing it. I will not let pride and self-conscious living steal from my experiences. I will enjoy this life, in all its glory.

It probably wasn’t so articulate in my head that day, but my decision made an immediate difference. Before I left camp that week I went off that rope swing, I climbed a 40 ft pole and jumped out to catch a bar (which I missed by a long shot) and I sang with my whole heart during worship even when the boy I liked was too cool for it.

When I peel back the layers of what was going on at the time, I can see how pivotal this decision was for me. I thought I was overweight and noticed that the boys wanted to be my friend, but were more interested in my prettier or more athletic friends. I was concerned about looking good and being accepted, but I had also been taught to embrace me for me. I had an adventurous spirit and I liked that about myself. I wanted to be true to that.

At the same time, I was facing the fact that my mom had been diagnosed with cancer. I was seeing life as more precious and potentially much shorter than I had before. And as I tried to push my teenage hopes of being fabulous into this grown-up perspective, it became quite clear that looking good while swinging from a rope isn’t really what life is about.

In the 27 years that followed, that simple decision has proven to shape my experiences. I am not as attractive, as athletic or as smart as some, but that hasn’t kept me from jumping in. I am a jack of all trades, master of nothing and I’m happy about that. My life is rich and one of the reasons for that is that I keep choosing to participate. That 15 year- old has whispered in my ear hundreds of times saying, “jump in.”

“Travel to that new place, wear your swimsuit often, go on that snowboarding trip, apply for that job, sign up for that half-marathon, do things that aren’t comfortable, speak up in that meeting, play soccer on Wednesdays with your staff, wait for the right one, marry him, have babies, dress up for Halloween, swim with your kids, cook for people, start a blog, keep trying to have another baby…”

Maybe it’s not weak arms and a chubby stomach that’s keeping you from jumping in, but I imagine it’s something. If it’s wisdom, then listen to it. But if it’s fear- of failing, looking foolish, not wanting to get your heart broken or not measuring up- then it’s time to break free and learn to enjoy. As it turns out, life is both precious and short.

13 thoughts on “Jumping In

  1. Stephie, you have no idea how timely this post was for me! So encouraging and so powerful for me to read right now. Thank you for writing and sharing this piece!!
    And you are so spot on! I have always seen you as a person who embraces life and doesn’t want to miss any of the stuff…good or not so good. Love you Dink 😘

  2. And so often these “jumping in” moments occur with seemingly little choices that add up to life-changing ones. Here’s to small jumps of bravery every day! – Fawn

  3. So good. And I love that as I was reading, little Harper’s sweet smile is on the side bar. Your kids are learning how to live from such fun and wise parents. Always love your wisdom and your heart!

  4. What a great post😊. I love your transparency and honesty. It amazes me how well you remember these moments in so much detail! What a gift! I love that you’re using that gift (among all of your many others!) to bless people. Love you sis😘.

  5. Reblogged this on nothingcantroubleherjoy and commented:
    One of my favorite bloggers is my former Forest Home boss, Stephanie Day. Even though I haven’t seen her in several years, Stephanie’s insight, graciousness, and determination to notice and cultivate beauty in every area of life continue to be an inspiration to me. I hope that our paths cross again someday. In the meantime, I enjoy keeping up with her blog. This week’s post is about jumping headfirst into life–not allowing fear to hold us back from the good. Definitely worth the read.

  6. Love this, Steph!! You embody a person who enjoys life to the fullest and you encourage those around you to do the same!! This totally made me think about camp and you making dibble dabble mandatory; you obviously have no idea but I think of that often, especially in the times I feel like I’m gonna look dorky, feel uncomfortable or just plain suck at something. Thank you for making me play!! Thank you for making me grow.

  7. Oh Stephanie, once again…thank you. Your words are inspiring and encouraging and full of love. You are a true gem. Much Love, Brooke ❤

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