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What Is Courage and Why Should We Take a Leap of Faith?

About a month ago, there was a MomSquad meet-up at Provo Beach, the greatest arcade of all time. My siblings and I were given extremely strict instructions: play games, eat ice cream, and have fun. One of their activities is a giant, four-story ropes course. Suspended over the massive maze of shuffleboard tables and pinball machines, it’s a thrilling, zig-zagging hodgepodge of various bridges. Some are made of both wood and ropes, and provide hand ropes to hold onto for balance. Others are just made of ropes. And others have barely any balance built in at all. What keeps the climber safe is a secure harness, attached to a series of metal bars above their head. This allows everyone to climb around at their leisure without the fear of falling to their death. 

I used to be deathly afraid of this ropes course. Now that I'm grown up, I can proudly say that I am still deathly afraid of this ropes course, built for children who aren't even half my size. On this visit, I was helped into the harness by a very annoyed arcade attendant, and mounted the ropes course with a growing sense of mortal terror. By the time I reached the first set of rope bridges, my mouth was dry and I was sweating like a fever patient. Scared as I was though, I had to complete the course. So, after sending up a silent prayer to commit my soul to my Maker, I began the terrifying climb, trusting the harness not to let me fall to my death.

It would be less of a blow to my ego if I could tell you that the more I climbed, the less scared I became, but that’s just not true. My mouth was dry, my forehead was damp, my heart was racing, and I was always one tiny misstep away from freezing in place, and eventually checking myself into an asylum. How was I delusional enough to willingly put myself here? Weirdly enough, while my fear didn't go away, my appreciation for what I was doing grew and grew. It was FUN to be scared. It was thrilling to be so high off the ground. And it was a great challenge to figure out where to place my hands and feet to keep myself balanced. Looking back, I don't regret making the climb at all. In fact, I'm glad I did it. I allowed myself to be challenged and figure it out on my own, all the while knowing that there was a harness to catch me if my foot slipped. 

As I thought back to this, I surprised myself. I was genuinely proud. It was just a silly ropes course, but I was proud. It wasn't that impressive that a girl of nineteen managed to finish it without crying. Besides, I had a harness on the whole time. How was that brave? Then, I thought about my purpose. Life is made up of a thousand little moments, and with them a thousand little opportunities. By committing a small act of courage, by stepping onto the first level of the course, I did something that I had not done before. I did something that I could be genuinely proud of.

And sure, taking a ropes course didn’t change the world; but what about saying "hello" to someone in the hallway? What about putting something good in the world that was not there before? That can be almost worse than the ropes course. But the best part? Even if it's scary, I know I won't fall. My faith teaches me that the Holy Spirit is there to catch me and help me if — and when — I fall. The Atonement is there for my biggest falls, so that I can repent and always get back up. But the best best part? When we know that we have the Lord on our side, we can come to appreciate (and maybe even love) life, even and I think especially its difficult moments.

God gave us the difficult ropes course, but He also gave us our safety harness. God designed the course, and Jesus Christ made it possible to complete, He is our safety harness. The Holy Spirit is the worker who puts us in the harness . We will slip, we will fall, we will become frozen with fear and wonder why we were ever put in this situation. But we will also laugh, have fun, help each other, and love more than we ever thought possible. Through it all, our guide and protector will always be there, never breaking, keeping us from the fall, allowing us to triumph over our terror and reach the end at last.

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