This past January I took up downhill skiing. I was not about to get left out of a family trip to Utah that my new husband’s family takes at the end of each February. I was excited by this prospect to embrace a new sport, but also scared. What business did I, a grandma, have thinking that in a few short weeks I could get good enough at skiing to ski the big mountains of Utah, much less survive the smaller mountains near our home in West Virginia?
But I had a sense that there was something more in this desire to learn to ski than just enjoying the sport with my husband. I felt that somehow I was being impelled to challenge fears about restrictions that come with aging, fears about certain situations being unsafe, and a mental laziness that would keep me content with sedentary indoorness. So I took on this new adventure for the spiritual growth even more than for the fun of enjoying time with my new family.
From my very first day out on the bunny slope I noticed that when I was relaxed, the turns came easily and I did not fall. When I tensed up from fear, then I felt out of control and was more apt to take a tumble. It’s a funny thing, but the lesson is that if we try harder to be in control, essentially leaving out trust in God’s omnipotence, we actually feel less in control. It was illustrated over and over when I was skiing. I began to pay less attention to trying to navigate the hill and more attention to relaxing my grip on the ski poles. There was a direct correspondence between that release in my hands and the security with which I was able to stay upright and move through different snow and terrain conditions with dominion. And there was no question that I was less fatigued and had more fun when I was relaxed.