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I don’t live in a house with stairs.  Just never wanted a two or more story home and probably because heights bother me.  Ironically, my office is upstairs and I travel up and down the stairs a dozen times or so every day.  And everyone is now used to how I do this…holding the rail with my right hand (can’t do it with my left) and letting part of my arm touch the side of the wall as I step slowly and cautiously and carefully down each step.  I can’t let go until I’m at the very bottom…not even two or three steps up.  I have a crazy fear of falling and if I don’t mind my steps but look out instead of down at my feet I get dizzy and wobbly and am sure I will fall.  So I go slow, I say I’m sorry for being slow, I let faster stair descenders go ahead of me, and I come to a complete stop wherever I am on the stairs if I start to feel anxious or nervous.  I’m really fortunate these aren’t floating stairs because those are the worst for me since I can see through them to the ground below with every step I take.  My poor kids have been raised with helping Mom go down the stairs, waiting for Mom to catch up since she’s so slow coming down the stairs, and this even affects riding on the down going escalators.  I have no problem going up…it’s the down action that gives me the heebie-jeebies.  

My idiosyncrasy and/or phobia has encountered courtesy from everyone at work from colleagues to students, however.  They never rush me.  No one goes tearing around me but waits respectfully and patiently for me to stop and tell them to go around before I continue my descent.  Not one person has tried to scare me with a fake push or come up behind me and screamed or anything that would startle me.  In fact, they are usually quietly cheerful and smile when they see me coming down when they are going up and they cling to the left side of the stairwell so as not to jostle me.  I am amazed that something everyone could easily laugh about is treated kindly.  

 So, you might ask, why not take the elevator?  

Do you know this elevator?  It is S L O W.  I can get down the stairs faster at my snail speed than it takes to ride our sloth-like elevator!  It is the sloth box…oh….so….slow….!  I’ll only ride it when I have to carry a load down stairs because that’s something I just can’t do going downstairs.  If I can’t see my feet, I can’t go down. 

So…imagine what it was like for me as teenager when every other girl is prancing cutely up and down the bleachers and I’m clinging to wherever there is a rail…or begging someone to hold my hand and lead me up and down!   And now imagine the embarrassment of my kids as they have lead me up and down the bleachers!   “Come on, Grandma,” Sam would say.  But they never abandoned me no matter how embarrassing for them. 

So why am I afraid of heights?  I can’t say for sure but I recall the horror of being pushed as a kid from the high dive when I was taking swim lessons and the instructor swore they wouldn’t push me but did anyway.  They also had to rescue me.  And I also recall the horror of being tossed from an apartment balcony by someone on speed and landing in the hedges below, something that saved my life. I’m not sure if there were other incidents but those were apparently enough.  

Most people see their lives as stairs to climb to get to the top, to the goal.  I’m reversed.  I see the labor of going down one step at a time to get to solid ground.  And that solid ground is my relationship with Jesus, my faith, my unwavering belief in God and His goodness even if what’s happening hurts and makes no sense.  Just as I hold tightly to the rail of the stairs and make my way to solid ground one slow step at a time, He holds me through whatever I’m experiencing and gets me through it one step at a time, one moment at a time, one day at a time, one verse at a time, one song at a time, one thought at a time, one hug at a time, one message at a time, and so on.  Just as a I watch my feet on the stairs going down, I have to keep my eyes on my Lord to stay on solid ground.    

 

 

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