The True Courage
It was the first day of our youth group ski trip. While I waited for the ski lift, I saw a booth offering ski lessons. I considered taking an hour-long lesson, but then I heard my voice in my head: Nah, you don't need any help. After all, you've skied once before. You'll be fine.
As I stood on the edge of the beginner's slope, my confidence shrank. After all, I hadn't skied for two years. And even then, I'd only taught myself to ski well enough to make it down once or twice without falling. But surely,I'd be able to figure it out .
So, I pushed off and built up speed. I lasted about 15 feet before collapsing into the snow. No problem. That was just one mistake, I thought.You got this. I was just kidding myself. I was like an out-of-control moose on roller skates . My skis crossed each other. I couldn't stop or turn. I couldn't even slow down to less than 120 miles an hour.
I fell about eight times on that beginner's slope before I finally came to a stop at the bottom by hitting a small tree.
The second time down, l only fell four times so I figured I was getting better. I rode up the ski lift for a third try with my friend Mike. From up above the slope, I watched my friends gently gliding down the hill in wide,slow turns. All of a sudden I realized we were at the lift ramps ! I struggled to get my feet under me so I could hop off. But before I could get my footing, the lift chair shoved me over some traffic cones and into a snowbank.
I yelled at the traffic cones, brushed snow off myself and then hobbled over to where a few of my friends waited.
You guys are ready to go down? I asked Mike and Jen.
Mike laughed. "We're ready, but you seem to even have problems with traffic cones."
Oh, that wasn't my fault. I said. "Those cones were in the wrong place. Let's go!"
Twenty seconds later, I was digging myself out of 3 feet of snow. Jen was there to help me. I asked her and Mike for advice on how to control myself and gently swoosh from one side of the hill to the other instead of rocketing at 300 miles per hour. Jen gave me some tips. That's it, I thought. I am all set!
I pushed off like Jen showed me and tried to slowly turn into a gradual glide across the slope. Instead, my skis turned straight down the hill and I reached maximum speed. BOOM. I plowed into a fence.
Todd, you might really hurt yourself, Jen said gently. "I think you should take a lesson."
I don't need help! I screamed in my head. With that, I stood up and rocketed down the hill. Near the bottom of the hill, my left ski flew out from under me. My upper body flew forward. My entire weight landed on my face, and I skidded down the hill about 10 feet.
My face hurt. My glasses were 3 feet away. My head throbbed . There was blood all over the snow. People stopped to see if I was OK. "I'm fine," I told the crowd without looking up at them. "I don't need help."
As my head pounded and my face started to swell, I finally admitted to myself that I couldn't keep doing this. I was dangerous to myself and others. That's when I finally admitted to myself that I should have taken lessons earlier that morning.
After stopping at the First Aid building for Advil and an ice pack, I swallowed my pride and marched up to the ski lessons booth. "I need lessons," I said with my lips swollen to the size of bananas, bloody cuts all over my face and my right eye swelling shut.
As I waited for my lesson, I felt foolish for ever thinking I could've done this myself. But, still, I worried about what the instructor would think of me. At my lesson, though, the instructor complimented me for having the courage to try again after my accident. He watched how I skied and offered advice. Before I knew it, I could turn! I could stop! Instead of fear and panic, I felt confidence and enjoyment. I could actually ski - not just careen downhill!
After my lesson, l went down the "face plant " hill and completely mastered it. At the bottom, Mike said, "I couldn't believe that was you. You're completely transformed!"
As he and I took the ski lift up to go again, I thought about my day. I thought about how much I'd fallen. I also thought about how stubborn I'd been through it all. Only when I'd really hurt myself, had I finally admitted I needed help. I realized that this doesn't just happen with skiing. I've done it in other ways, too. When I've faced tough problems, or when I've wrestled with sin, way too many times I've thought, I can do it. I can handle this. And, then, it has only been worse. Real transformation, I thought to myself, only comes when I ask advice from others who are wiser than me and accept it with an open mind.
When I easily slid off the lift chair and past those troublesome traffic cones, I thanked for a lesson learned. I also thanked for learning to take the lesson to heart before I found myself, one more time, lying flacon my face.