Geronimo: On Falling With Style

There’s an old Michael W. Smith/Rich Mullins song called “Step by Step” that I remember singing often as a child. If you were a child (or parent) of the 80’s and 90’s chances are you are familiar with it. The lyrics, borrowing from the Psalms, go like this:

“I will seek you in the morning. And I will learn to walk in your ways. And step by step you’ll lead me. And I will follow you all of my days.”

The song makes it all sound so gentle. I picture those early morning rays on a peaceful beach, Jesus walking just a step or two ahead with me taking small steps into the footprints he’s left behind. The camera pulls back and we see an endless stream of footprints behind me and the horizon ahead, stretching on into eternity. It’s like a motivational poster in an elementary school classroom.

But let’s get real here. For about the last ten years I don’t think God has been leading me step by step. It’s been more like cliff dive after cliff dive. I feel like old-school Mario, you know, before he could fly or turn into a penguin and skim across the ice on his belly. Old-school Mario had to jump to get anywhere and most of the time he was jumping from one inexplicably floating block of brick to another with lots of empty space in between.

mario

My friend Karissa recently wrote a post about some “Geronimo” decisions she’s been making. She explains these as the kinds of decisions that would normally require lots of planning, pro and con lists, internal debates, and lots and lots of detailed information. But lately, she’s found herself making some big decisions quickly and choosing not to regret or second-guess them.

Decisions are hard for me too. I am often plagued with the fear of making the wrong decision. I’m afraid of making the wrong decision and regretting it later, but I’m also afraid of not choosing something and always wondering, “What if?” It’s hard for me to pick the restaurant for dinner or the movie we should watch or which jeans look better, so it’s surprising that most of my biggest life decisions have been Geronimo moments. They were moments where I took a flying leap and never looked back.

At eighteen, I chose to go to college near Chicago, even though I’d never lived outside of Louisiana and had much better scholarship offers elsewhere.

Jonathan and I got married at twenty-two with nothing but a crazy amount of love and two degrees that the ink hadn’t even dried on yet.

The next year we decided to leave Illinois and picked a place on the map where we thought we might like to live. We showed up in Raleigh, NC, a city we’d never even seen before, with two cats, no jobs, and lots of dreams and it quickly became “home” to us.

A few years later, we put all of our things into storage, found a long-term cat-sitter for our fur babies, said good-bye to our friends and family and got on a plane to Korea. We moved to a new country and a new culture that we knew next to nothing about and where we didn’t speak the language.

Each of these were big decisions that we thought about and prayed about beforehand, but when it came down to it, we knew we just had to leap and trust that we’d make it to that next floating rock.

Now we are preparing for another giant leap and somehow this feels like the greatest leap of trust I’ve ever taken. I’ve written a little about the anxiety I’ve been dealing with lately, but I am more afraid of returning home to America than I ever was of moving to Korea.

More than all of the practical elements of our move to yet another new city, making friends, finding a new job and a new place to live, my biggest fear is that I’ll discover that I no longer belong. Already I have been struggling with feeling distant and disconnected from my friends. I have been coming to terms with the fact that going back to America will not just be like coming home. It will be the start of an entirely new adventure. And as much as I love a good adventure, this is the 4th time we’ve moved in 5 years and I’m tired of starting over.

And yet, this is so clearly the path we are meant to take. It’s the next cliff we’re meant to dive off of.

If there’s one thing I know about trust, it’s this. Trust doesn’t necessarily mean that you aren’t afraid. Trust simply acknowledges that there is something bigger than your fear. It recognizes that your fear is not the only thing and also that it’s not the strongest thing.

Karissa writes, “But some days, you need to live a Geronimo life. You need to make a Bombs Away decision. You need to believe that your gut feeling is enough, that you are enough, that you will dive through that waterfall, be baptized by its drops, and come out on the other side knowing that you survived free-fall. So here’s to you, to both of us, to our fear, to our bravery, to our confidence.”

Sometimes I wonder if we’re even moving forward. It feels like we just keep falling off things. And then I remember the immortal wisdom of Toy Story and think that maybe what we’re really doing is flying. Because we know that flying is just falling with style.

falling with style

This post is part of a link-up over at Karissa’s blog about Geronimo moments. If you have your own Geronimo story, write about it and join the link-up!

Image credit: Ryan C Wright, Flickr

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26 comments

  1. I personally think that your next step might be a little easier. You move to a country that you couldn’t even speak the language, to me that is such a huge step that most people would never do. I think you have the skill to adapt to change for sure.

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    1. It would seem that way, haha. It’s sort of a strange in-between though. It’s like I don’t quite know how to think about it. In some ways it’s like we’re going home, and that’s how I had been thinking of it. But then it really hit me that we aren’t going home, we are going to an entirely new place we’ve never been before. But it is still much more familiar than Korea is. So it’s like I don’t know where to set my expectations – am I going home or am I going somewhere new? I came to Korea prepared to adapt because I knew nothing. I think it can be harder to adapt if you go somewhere with specific expectations.

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  2. I certainly empathise with the fear of moving home and not belonging once you get there. It’s a reality that can be hard to face – a fear that has very real roots and reasons. Now that I’m back ‘home’ for a while I’m slowly learning to trust that God is walking with me and that he will provide the people and experiences I need to feel that right sense of belonging again. But it’s a long path.

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    1. Isn’t it strange how going home can be harder than going away? Intellectually I believe that God won’t direct us somewhere and then just leave us hanging, but in a weird way it’s almost like I feel that this SHOULD be easier since we’re moving back to a familiar culture, so maybe God will figure we shouldn’t need so much help. Haha. I mean, I know that’s ridiculous, but that’s kind of how I feel. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experience. Glad to know that you understand the struggle.

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  3. Love. Bombs away, dear. (And when you get back, we need to plan to meet in person – we’ll only be a couple of states apart! We could meet in the middle!)

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  4. I can’t possibly relate to moving and making such drastic changes in my life as you have done. But let me tell you, your posts always seem to come at the right time for me. You have reached me, in such a spiritual way that the only way to explain it is that God needs me to read your words every so often, so that I can get the confirmation or answer I have been looking for; good or bad. I am looking forward to continue reading about your journey and this next big step in your life!

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  5. I totally understand your anxiety about going back home. I spend months in a row in Brazil, and when I have to go back to Italy, I’m afraid it won’t feel like home anymore. I had no problems with spending six months in Germany, no problems in traveling to Brazil (all my stuff is actually here in Brazil right now), but going home always scares me. The place hasn’t changed, but I have, and every time I go back it feels a bit different. I still live with my parents in Italy, and I must say, it never feels like home. But I believe home is where your heart is, so as long as you are with your husband it will not take long before you feel at home again. 🙂
    Hugs!

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    1. Thank you so much for all of your encouragement. I really identify with what you said about going home to your parents and not feeling “at home.” I felt that way all throughout college when I would come home to visit. It was such a sudden change – I left “home” to go to college and even coming back for Christmas break that same year felt strange. I think it’s exactly what you said – that we change and the place doesn’t that much. For some people maybe that’s comforting, but to me feeling “at home” isn’t just being somewhere familiar, it’s understanding where you fit in a particular place. And sometimes it’s actually harder to do that somewhere familiar than somewhere new. I think this move is such a weird combination of going back home and going somewhere new and it’s hard to know how to set my expectations. You are right though that more than any place, my husband is my home and wherever we are together will feel more like home than even the most familiar place could if we were apart. 🙂

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  6. Thanks for this great post. We should all be as willing to plunge in and do the unexpected. You and your husband will make this move, just like all of your others, with poise and grace.

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  7. “Joyfully Maladjusted”. That is the name of the “club” I was inducted into upon arriving back in the states after living in Southeast Asia. One of my mentors, who had also lived outside the States, promised me that I would never be truly at home anywhere again, for I had left a part of my heart somewhere else. He assured me, however, that I was not the only one who felt like this, and that, as cliché as it sounds, I really could find myself at home with God.
    I pray you can find that peace, however fleeting it may be, in the midst of the changes.

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    1. I like that a lot. 🙂 It’s nice to know that there are fellow members of this club and that it’s a club we can still find peace and happiness in. Thank you so much for your encouragement and your prayers!

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  8. PS: if by any chance, your new leap brings you to Indiana or takes you back to Illinois, i think it would be fun to grab coffee one of these days because i totally relate to that feeling of being disconnected from home. I sometimes fear moving back home to Nigeria because I realize that the home i remember has long moved on without me.

    there’s something about that line, “with plenty of space in between” that really strikes a cord with me. writing my book was my “big project” for many years. Now that it’s out (and doing well) i feel like i’m in a “plenty of space in between” phase and i feel very strongly that i need to wait and experience that space -but boy is that hard for the type A in me. I’m learning though Lol. thanks for your transparency on this blog – i love it!

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    1. That would be really cool. 🙂 We’ll be moving to South Carolina in August, but we do have friends still living in Indiana so you never know when we might show up there, haha. 🙂 Congratulations on your book. Hope you can enjoy the space!

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