Two days ago I jumped out of a perfectly functional airplane at 14,000 feet. What on earth would possess me to do something so crazy? I remember the first time I flew on a plane at the age of 17... I was in full-blown panic mode. I hated every minute of it. I didn't have control of anything, and it was completely out of my comfort zone. I've since learned to calm myself when flying, because I love to travel, and flying is a necessary part of that. So, considering I don't really enjoy flying, and I'm not a fan of heights - skydiving has never really been a "bucket list" item of mine. It was one of those things that I've thought "I wonder if I could actually go through with it?"... but I never really had the desire to do it myself. I have never been a thrill seeker... Which may seem surprising, considering my nearly 18 year career in EMS where you are constantly put in high stress situations. No, I prefer calm. To be honest, I hate running lights and sirens, and I hate running high stress emergency calls. The reason I chose a career in EMS is because I REALLY hate working on computers, or in cubicles, or in any type of office setting. So, for me, it has nothing to do the the "adrenaline rush", but really because I prefer to work in a field where I am not stuck at a desk all day every day, and I do like to help others in any way I can. That's it.
So... Considering all of this, how did I suddenly find myself in a free fall, plummeting towards the earth at 120 mph? About a month ago my ambulance partner, and friend, went skydiving for the first time. He called me out of the blue and said "I'm going skydiving today". I said "Ok. Have fun." (He's much more spontaneous than I am, so this really wasn't anything out of the ordinary for him.) He called me after he was done and told me of his whole experience, and said I HAVE to do it. I told him I would think about it... but I really didn't. It went back to one of those things that other people do, but I didn't really care to do myself. I was content here on the ground... Until about a week ago. I was talking to a recently divorced friend of mine, and they told me their story. Their spouse had been unfaithful throughout the marriage. (The same reason that led to my divorce 5 years ago.) I listened to them tell me of all of the times they were hurt by discovering different information of their spouse's infidelity... of how despite the pain, they desperately wanted to save the marriage because of their belief in the sanctity of marriage and their commitment to God and each other... of how they reacted in the different situations, and how the unfaithful spouse responded to them... As they shared their experience it broke my heart to see them in such pain, but it also took me back - because they were telling me my own story. As I listened to them, it brought back so many memories. It was bizarre to hear it because some of the things they described were verbatim exactly what I went through. From things that they said to their spouse, to how the spouse reacted in those situations... It was MY story of MY broken marriage too. Hearing it, I knew EXACTLY how they felt during that time, and I know EXACTLY how they feel right now... Broken. Wanting to find closure and move forward with life, but feeling like this burden and pain will never really go away. When I went through this myself, everyone would tell me "Time heals all wounds.", or "You'll get past this and be happy again.", etc... But none of my friends had been through this, so it was all speculation on their part, and I didn't really believe them. I couldn't possibly see how I could ever really get over it completely... But, here I am 5 years later, and I can honestly say I did. The scar of the pain is still here, and it changed me as a person, but I no longer feel that pain. When I used to talk about it, I would feel a physical ache in my chest, at times. I cannot tell you how many tears I cried over the years. It's impossible to put into words how broken I felt... But I survived it. I not only survived - I thrived. Within my complete brokenness I developed faith, which led to strength, which led to courage, which has led to a happy and fulfilling life on my own. Prior to my divorce, my entire life I was stifled by fear. Fear of failure. Fear of what others thought of me. Fear of change. This fear kept me in a marriage that was unhealthy for me and my daughter, in a career that was unhealthy for my mental and emotional well-being, and it kept me from striving to reach my full potential and going after my dreams. Despite the affair I was terrified to leave my husband, because I was afraid to face this world alone - without my partner, and as a single mother. I leaned on him to find comfort even though the relationship was completely dysfunctional and unhealthy... I can honestly say now that I am thankful that my husband had an affair, because I know I never would've left him for any other reason, because of my loyalty - even though it was unhealthy for me to stay. I realize now that my marriage was keeping me from becoming the woman God intended me to be, because it was not a marriage built on faith and Christ. Now I find comfort in the Lord. I look to Him to lead me in every decision I make - big and small... and it has changed my life. I no longer live in fear. I live in hope. I live in happiness. I live in the love of God.
Hearing my friend's story made me reflect, and realize that I overcame everything that was meant to break me... So, I decided to take the leap, because I knew I had the courage to do it... I may not be a thrill seeker, but over the past 5 years, as I have found myself and developed my relationship with God, I have become a challenge seeker. I am no longer afraid to take on a challenge - whether it's competing on stage, or a Tough Mudder, or moving to another state and starting my own business from the ground up... I face each challenge that comes my way head on. The skydive had nothing to do with the adrenaline rush, but everything to do with proving to myself that I had the courage to go through with it. I had a moment of mom guilt the night before I went - I'm not afraid to die, but I am afraid to orphan my child... but, statistically I have a MUCH higher likelihood of dying in a car accident on the way to the airport, than I do of dying in a skydiving accident. So, considering that, I went for it. I can honestly say that I did not feel any fear, because I believe that God has a plan for me, and I knew my time on this earth was not up yet... So, I surrendered it all to Him, and because of that I got to experience one of the most amazing events of my life.
As a single mom, my life looks completely different than anything I had ever imagined... But I am thankful for it all - the good and the bad, because it has molded me into the fearless woman I have become today. Will I skydive again? Maybe... Maybe not. It's not about the thrill, it's about the experience... At the end of my life I want to say I experienced everything in this life that I possibly could, and I love that I get to tell about this testimony of faith as part of my story... Someday I will find a man of God to experience all of life's adventure's with me, but until then, I intend to continue to grow and challenge myself, and have as many adventures as I can with God leading the way.
Here's the video of my 14,000 foot leap of faith: