Have you heard of that trust experiment where you turn around and are supposed to fall backward into the arms of the person behind you? Have you been able to do that? I haven’t. I just haven’t been able to let go and fall backwards into arms that may or may not be there. And why would I want to fall backwards anyway?
I experienced a similar dilemma when I asked a licensed psychologist, and a very good friend, to hypnotize me to help me deal with something. He agreed and began. But, I could not let myself go. I trusted him. But, I couldn’t release control.
Surprisingly, I have successfully released control a couple times in life. Once, with some very good friends, I stepped off a platform into empty space on a zipline. I told my friends that if they went before me and left me alone on the platform, I probably wouldn’t do it. It wasn’t a fear of heights or speed. My fear was not being in control of my fate. We were the last three to go. Cindi gave me a little push off the platform and away I went. And I absolutely loved the zip-line experience!
My most recent “letting go” experience happened today. My friend Kim loves surfing. She also loves to help others love surfing. She shares some safety reminders, demonstrates what to do, and then she swims out to meet us where the waves are breaking. She stands behind the board, steadies it, and watches for an optimal opportunity. She checks my position on the board and usually tells me to move back on the board. As the wave comes, she starts coaching, “paddle, paddle, paddle, paddle.” She pushes the board as the wave nears. You paddle at least two more times. And, suddenly, you’ve caught the wave! It’s exhilarating!!!
Today, as I bobbed on the surfboard while Kim helped someone else first, I realized how easily I trust Kim. Essentially, she’s telling me, turn around, you don’t need to see what’s coming behind you. I’ll watch and tell you when the best wave approaches and then I’ll give you a push. How is it possible that I can turn around, face the shore—not ever looking over my shoulder–and give control to Kim?
I decided that I trust her so much because she is traversing the experience with me. She’s fully invested. If she’s holding onto the back of my board and a wave blasts me, it blasts her, too. But even more than that, I know that she’s sincerely serving me for my happiness. She rejoices when I succeed. And she exerts a lot of personal effort for my few seconds atop a cresting wave.
And so, I happily relax on the board, staring at the shore waiting for the words, “This is the wave, get ready. Paddle, paddle, paddle, paddle!” And then I paddle two more times and feel the wave under me and hear my friend’s “Hooray! or Awesome!” behind me as I ride the wave to shore. I really admire her selfless service.
Sometimes, because I don’t relinquish control, I find I have self-imposed expectations for others. I expect them to remember the things I do or react the way I would (which may or may not be the best way to react) or not to question what I’ve decided that I’ll ultimately end up doing myself anyway (which may or not be the best thing to do). Not relying on others never lets me fully see what they can and will do. Obviously, people might let me down. People have let me down. There may be failures. But there may be more exhilarating experiences like fabulous zipline speeds and surfing waves.
I recently attended a meeting where I shared some awesome news. I felt so joyful and hopeful with our progress. I shared the news expecting everyone to rejoice with me and see the progress we were making as a group. I expected to use the progress, as a group, to springboard to something even better, even more.
But that’s not what happened. Other attendees seemed to take my news as an attack against them and their results. Ironically, I had no idea what their results actually were. Was it really such a competition to them? I wholeheartedly felt we were on the same team and their success was the whole group’s success and our success is the whole group’s success.
They criticized what we’d accomplished saying we didn’t do it right or enough or as well as they did, when actually, they didn’t know what we had done or what effort had been expended on creating that success. But, they didn’t care. Instead of pushing me onto the wave, they dumped me off the board and the wave tumbled and tossed me over and over and over until I hit the shore.
I worry that by not relinquishing my control in relationships, others may inadvertently feel this same bulldozing effect from me.
We’re all on this journey together, though sometimes we’re at different waypoints. But regardless of where we are on the journey, Jesus taught “let every man esteem his brother as himself, and practice virtue and holiness before me. … I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.” Sometimes that’s hard to do, for whatever reason.
But then, I meet people, like Kim, who swim out into the water with you, willingly watch for the danger for you, and wait to push until the push perfectly benefits you.
It feels a lot like the Savior’s promise “there will I be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you to bear you up.”
The scriptures are FULL of stories testifying that the Lord follows through on this promise as people relinquished their puny control to Him.
One morning Elisha’s servant realized he and Elisha were surrounded by an enemy army. “Alas, my master! How shall we do?” Elisha released control to Jehovah and relied on Him. “And [Elisha] answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”
Esther asked the people to fast with her as she prepared to face the king uninvited. As she waited for the approaching wave, she released control and said, “If I perish, I perish.” The king welcomed her arrival and ultimately she triumphed over wicked Haman.
As many believers burned in a fire, Amulek said to Alma “Behold, perhaps they will burn us also. And Alma said: Be it according to the will of the Lord. But, behold, our work is not finished; therefore they burn us not.” Eventually, their prison walls fell down around them and they walked free, unharmed. Not only do I admire Alma’s trust in God’s hand, but also those believers who relinquished control, trusting in God’s hand, even unto death.
So, I look at myself and I wonder, if the Lord said, “turn around, move back on your board, and wait for my signal to start paddling,” would I do it? If I pray for a break and to just rest on the board, but He says the best and perfect wave is moments away, would I be willing to start paddling?
Am I willing to stop looking over my shoulder to pick the best waves and trust that He’ll tell me when to go? And most importantly, am I willing to be pushed?
“Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand…
I’m grateful for friends who help me learn in a tangible way—a way that I can understand and see—that I can trust the Lord when He says, “Turn around. Move back a little on the board. When I see your perfect wave, I’ll push you.”
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.