China · Perspective

A Lesson I Learned on The Great Wall of China

I am afraid of heights. To be more accurate, I am terrified of falling from great heights. I imagine that’s what most people mean when they say they are “afraid of heights.”

My fear includes walking along high ledges, dangling in a ski lift chair far above the ground, looking down from the roofs of tall buildings, walking across suspension bridges, summiting the top of a high Ferris wheel, and other similar situations. I especially dislike going down steep stairs (which happens much more frequently in life than the other scenarios I listed); my head gets dizzy, my legs get all wobbly, and I feel like I am going to tip over and forward-roll my way down to the bottom.

Yesterday, we went on a tour to the Great Wall of China. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of it, but if you’ve never been, there’s no way to accurately imagine just how steep the steps are. Pictures don’t do it justice. For instance, here’s a photo that Charles took looking down the stairs we had just climbed. A friend and I are sitting on the ledge in the middle/top of the stairs. Trust me: it was steeper than it looks.

IMG_4914As I sat on that ledge and looked down in front of me, I became more and more panicked. “How am I ever going to walk down those stairs to get back to level ground?” I thought. “I’m stuck up here forever.”

During my musings, Charles climbed up to the next tower and back; he is not afraid of heights. When he returned to the spot where I was waiting, I told him I was ready to head down because the more I thought about going down, the more afraid I became. In the spirit of “let’s-get-this-over-with,” I stood up and prepared myself.

Then, a very interesting thing happened.

Charles walked in front of me, and I stayed close behind him. Really, he was all I could see. I focused on his feet and the back of his legs which allowed me to keep a peripheral view of my own clumsy feet as well. As we walked, I found myself unafraid because instead of looking down at the path in front of me, I was focusing on the person whom I trusted.

Last week, when I was going through a hard time on this China trip, I was asking a lot of “why” questions: Why am I here? What is my purpose? Why did God tell me to come? In the midst of those questions, my dad reminded me that our Heavenly Father usually answers the “why” questions with a “who” answer. In other words, He draws us closer to Himself and teaches us about who He is instead of telling us all His reasons for allowing us to go through a particular situation.

This message was really driven home for me as I was reflecting on our Great Wall experience. As I walk through life, if I look at the circumstances that are before me, it is so easy to get overwhelmed. But if I look at the person whom I trust–my Heavenly Father who loves me–my fear vanishes.

Give all your worries to him, because he cares about you…God, who gives all grace, will make everything right. He will make you strong and support you and keep you from falling. ~ 1 Peter 5:7, 10

I’m so thankful for my husband who walked in front of me down the steps of the Great Wall and helped me not to fear, but I’m even more thankful for my Heavenly Father who loves me and walks ahead of me each step of my life.

God, help me to trust you daily and not be overwhelmed by the circumstances of life; instead, let me gaze at your glory and trust you to support me and keep me from falling.

* * * * *

Just for fun, here are a few more pictures of our Great Wall adventure!

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