This article was originally written in February of 2012 for Our Witness, a website that highlights personal testimonies of Christians all over the world. Thank you for reading!
When most people think of Valentine’s Day, they think of holding hands with their somebody or avoiding the public due to the fact they don’t have a somebody. However, the greatest love story I’ve ever known is the relationship between God and man. A great thing happened to me when I was single, living in Hawaii, and “oh-so-not” looking for romance. I experienced the love of God and of friendship which both fill a void that causes many hearts to ache.
The following is a myspace blog post I wrote over three years ago about that very thing, and it is as relevant now as it was on July 7th, 2008. To give you some backstory, I’ll let you in on a little tradition that happens in Hawaii for people of all ages. At Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu, there is a VERY massive rock that beach goers take turns climbing and leaping from all day and this was my chance to do the same. It didn’t go quite as planned, but it is a very memorable moment in my walk with God nonetheless.
“I sat on top of the rocks at Waimea Bay for about an hour today. Not by choice, but I had to prove something to myself. Possibly to those around me. I’m not one to say I have a fear of heights, but when you’re on top of a rock the size of a three story building with smaller rocks below you and water so clear that dimensions are skewed, it’s not the most pleasant experience. From below, it doesn’t seem that tall. That intimidating. Once the journey begins it’s a different story altogether. Even climbing up the rocks to get to the top is frustrating. Fear of slipping down to the bottom and endangering your well being is almost ridiculous considering you’re not really getting anything in return. From jumping off a rock the size of a building.
When I went to meet my friends at the top of the rock, I was taking my time and there was a gentleman with an accent behind me. I apologized for being so slow and he said, “Don’t rush, no matter who’s behind you.” I tend to try and get out of the way in many situations whether it’s best for me or not. I never want to be a nuisance or feel like I’m causing someone else to miss out on my behalf. His words calmed me. Like it was important enough for me to be comfortable and get there in my own timing. What a novel idea.
Once I got to the top, I saw my friends…and then I saw the drop. Fear crept in—as it did for many their first time, so I’m told—and this leap didn’t seem so fun anymore. My friends encouraged me and even said they would hold my hand if we jumped together. The stubborn side of me said no numerous times. I felt like going back down the mountain of rocks but my friend Salem informed me that it was even harder going back down. Hmmm…I am in a pickle. That didn’t bother me as much as how many people were counting on me to make it. I feel like I always have to be the strong one in situations like these. Even when it’s not expected, I make it my business to take care of myself so they don’t have to do it for me. So letting anyone down is letting myself fail.
After time, my friends went away and did their own thing. I would see them glance back with hope in their eyes and possible thoughts of, “Okay, any minute now she’s gonna jump.” My friend Chris even told me that he stayed in the same spot for about 30 minutes just waiting. I sat there for a while looking at the water. Harmless, but seemingly impossible to get to.
A group of guys were sitting next to me at the top, so I struck up conversation and asked if they were scared too. A few were, so we tried to make plans of going together or if they go, then I would go. None of it worked. They even started talking about how I should just set up a stand and start selling things because I would never make it down. Making jokes about how I would be there for two weeks and they would start bringing me food everyday to sustain me. How they would come visit Hawaii next summer and I’d still be in the same spot. I thought that was pretty hilarious.
It took my mind off of the fear that stood in the way, but then I kept thinking of how ridiculous I looked up there, burning in the sun while I waited for some courage. A few times, while no one was looking I attempted to jump, but my body wouldn’t let me. I contemplated going to other spots that were lower thinking it would make a difference, but in essence I just sat there tanning on the rocks. One by one, even the group of guys started jumping off and then telling me it was my turn. I didn’t budge. I wanted to slip down the rocks and disappear without anyone watching. A personal accomplishment to share with myself. Knowing I did it was all I really needed.
Just when I was ready to walk to the lower side, I heard Salem shouting for me in the water. She came to see if I was ready and sadly I wasn’t. She offered to come up with me and jump at the same time, so I said yes. I didn’t think it would help, but I was willing to try. I tried different approaches like counting to three, jumping with her, or jumping after her. I felt so bad because it was the stupidest thing and she was wasting her time trying to talk me into “overcoming the greatest obstacle of my life.” I thought that was cute in a way that it had become this huge thing with so many people waiting for me and cheering me on. It was so big and so small at the same time.
Two other friends—Noa and Jay—came up soon after and I was thinking, “Are you kidding me? This is just getting worse.” Without hesitation, they landed in the glistening ocean while I looked on. Then the guys I met at the top of the rock were all in the water below yelling for me to leap. Even that didn’t seem to do the trick. To be honest, I just felt like a spectacle. After a few MORE minutes of me standing and waiting, Jay shouted up “Just do it! Jesus is with you!” Immediately after, something clicked. I responded, “In that case, okay.”
I didn’t jump just yet, but I got closer and closer to the edge. Then I started inching my way down the rock until I was pretty much stuck. I trapped myself and there was no where to go but down. I was happy to be there though because it meant that I was going to HAVE to do it! Just when Noa was telling me when I should go because of the level of the waves and the difference it would make juxtaposed to the distance of whatever, I went for it. As I was going down, I heard Salem scream “Yay!”. Once I came above water again, all of my friends—old and new—were cheering me on as if I had done something really grand. I was so happy. I honestly think I only dropped about five feet, but it wasn’t about the jump. It was knowing that God loves me enough to place me with the most amazing people who care enough about me to let me be weak. He was with me the whole time.
Climbing up the rocks, he whispered “Don’t rush, no matter who’s behind you.” Through my fear, he offered to hold my hand. Once at the top, he showed me that everyone has a weakness and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. As soon as I was getting prepared in my heart to do it, he was in the water encouraging my decision. When my faith faltered, He told me He had been with me the whole time. Once I landed, he applauded along with his angels. God I love Jesus! I still get choked up thinking about it. Little did my friends really know—well they do now—what they did for me today.”
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)