Change is like leaping out of an airplane

Today, I am writing as a contributor to the Christian Writers Blog Chain. The theme for February is “Leap.” If you are a Christian author or writer, be sure to check out to network with others.
It recently hit me that change is a lot like skydiving. Yeah, skydiving.
You are probably asking yourself “Skydiving? What can skydiving teach me about change?”
After my first skydive in 2011, I can say it can teach you quite a bit.

Imagine taking a plane ride. You are in a tiny Cessna airplane. It fits three people comfortably, if you are lucky. This trip, there are five people in the plane. A pilot, two instructors, another person, and yourself.
As you take off the plane is loud. Rolling on the runway it is bumpy and rough. You wonder if the plane will be able to lift into the air.
It does and you start circling. Up and up you go. The ground below grows further away.
Twenty minutes into the flight you are 11,000 feet into the air.
The plane is now warm, almost unbearably so. All of a sudden one of the instructors reaches over and opens the door to the plane.
Air rushes in, quickly cooling the plane. It creates noise, it sounds like you are in the eye of a hurricane.
You and your instructor (who is attached to your back) scoot towards the open door.
Now you have a decision to make. Do you leap or do you stay in the plane?
I chose to leap. I did not regret it.
Whether it be skydiving or change, I think you should take the leap.
Here is what I learned from taking that leap

  • You may be scared
    Leaping out of a plane can be scary. As you scoot yourself to the door, you are told to place your feet on a small square. You can now see the ground and there is nothing holding you back from it.
    Your instructor then tells you to rock back and forth three times and to go out on the third rock. You are now free falling.
    It is a scary yet exhilarating experience.
    With change, the same feelings can be felt.
    You know what has to happen but you will not be in total control. Things could go wrong.
    You are scared and that is okay.

  • You may not realize how quickly it happens
    From the time you leap out of the airplane until you pull the cord to open your parachute is 35-45 seconds. In that time, you have fallen a mile! That is quick.
    But once the parachute opens, the chaos slows. You are no longer falling at 120 miles an hour. Now you are gently floating towards the ground.
    Change comes at you the same way. In the blink of an eye the world around you can change.
    You may have lost a job, been served papers, or been diagnosed with a disease.
    It all seems to have come so quickly. And it may have.
    But just like skydiving, things start to slow down. You are not free falling anymore. Life returns to a semblance of normalcy.

  • You need to have someone with you who knows what they are doing
    On your first leaps, you are required to have an instructor with you. He will be strapped to your back in a harness and he will be your best friend.
    During this jump, I was told I would be able to pull the cord to open the parachute. That was exciting. But more than forty seconds passed and I missed pulling the cord. My instructor pulled it and deployed the chute.
    Had he not pulled the cord and deployed the parachute, the outcome could have been bad. Thankfully he was there to help me.
    During seasons of change, it is vital you have someone that will help you walk through it. He will be able to guide you, to teach you, and to tell you it will be okay.
    He will “pull the cord” for you during change.

  • You may have a rough landing
    My touchdown did not go as planned. The wind was not right and we hit the ground faster than expected. This caused the instructor to tumble over me.
    No one was hurt. But it was rough.
    The end of change can be rough.
    You may have to move on. You may have to pursue reconciliation. Your world may be shaken to the its core.
    Regardless of how rough it is, it is survivable. You must get back up and brush off the dust and the dirt.
    Get back out there and live.

  • You will be amazed by the experience
    The experience of skydiving is something I will never forget.
    There was the rushing wind, the cold chill, the sudden drop, and the slow descent.
    All of these created a memory that I will not forget.
    Your experiences during change could be looked back upon in the same way.
    It has a way of shaping you. Creating something new.
    The process may have been painful but you will have gained from it.

When you face change, remember it is something that you can get through. Life will go on and you will grow.
If you keep that in mind, change can be a positive force in your life.
Question: Can you see any other ways that change could be like leaping out of an airplane? Or what changes have you faced that you were scared of but turned out for the best? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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  • Pegg Thomas

    There is – NO EARTHLY WAY – I would ever jump out of a perfectly good airplane! Perhaps if it was spirally down in a flaming ball… perhaps. But I marvel at those who can. (And I mutter to myself, “There’s one born every minute.”)

    I can’t say I’ve ever faced a change that was scared me. Many challenged me, some saddened me, but I must lead a blessed life because I can’t say I’ve ever been scared by where life has led me so far.

    • Come on Pegg. Why not? It is an amazing experience and gives you a different perspective on life.

      You must be one of the rare ones. Many people I know are so fearful of change that they neglect to act.

      Keep on changing Pegg!

      • Pegg Thomas

        I see change as a challenge and I’ve always enjoyed challenges. For me, a frightening experience would be cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or something like that. A change in which you would have no control, minimal if any options, etc.

        Changes in family, employment, churches, relationships, etc., are all things in which I see the challenge and have the ability to control at least my part of the situation. Praise God I haven’t had to face any of the really scary ones.

        • That is a great way to view change Pegg. Thanks for expounding on why you’re able to face change with minimum fear.

  • Good analogy…but there is no way I am jumping out of a perfectly good plane. One that is going down, sure I’ll take my chances, otherwise I am the passenger who keeps the seatbelt on the entire flight!

    When my father passed away I felt as if I was free falling. I didn’t realize how much he grounded me, how much he influenced me and how much I relied upon him. But as I was falling, God reminded me that he too is my father and that I am never alone. It was a wonderful realization. While I still miss my father, I don’t feel as if my hands are tied behind my back with no one to pull the cord- God is always here.

    • TC, you shouldn’t say there is no way. You never never, you may get the itch one day and discover what you have been missing!

      I can only imagine the feeling. Recently a few friends have had their fathers pass and hearing their stories it is heartbreaking. Great to hear that you’ve found relying on God to be a way to cope.

      • I’m kind of doubting I get that itch, but you’re right, I shouldn’t say never.

        I don’t know how anyone could go through losing a loved one without the help of Christ.

  • Good stuff Joe! I enjoyed it. Sometimes they give you a little push when you stand in the door of the plane. Do you think we need a little push sometimes?

    • Yeah, there are times we need to be pushed. Too often we hesitate and miss the opportune time to change and struggle with it.

  • E G Lewis

    I don’t know…I think I’ll keep feet firmly planted on old terra firma. (I’m a chicken at heart.)

    • It’s not for everyone but it’s something I don’t think you’ll regret if you get the chance to do it.

  • Terrie Thorpe

    Joe- loved your take on Leap, but I never considered out of an airplane! Excellent. How true your analogy, although I’ve never leapt from an airplane-I think it would be thrilling- on my to do list!

    Change does come whether we expect it, it appears, good or bad, reasonable or not. We have not understood that change grows our maturity,I think that is why it is so feared.- we love the comfort zone of the known vs the unknown.

    Let me point out that I am the poster child of “fear of change”, but the Lord has given me strength to embrace change and see it for the adventure and opportunities it presents.

    • Terrie, thanks for the comment. And interesting way to spell your name. I’ve seen it spelled as Terry and Terri but never Terrie.

      Hopefully you get the chance to leap from a plane. It is a beautiful experience.

      That is great that you’ve been able to alter the way you see change. Seeing it as presenting adventure and opportunity shows a great sense of maturity.

  • I knew I had a message but was terrified that people would think my book sucked. Now I see that the message is more important and I have to put it out there! I like the video Joe and how you tied in your experience to some excellent points. I really enjoy your blog!

    • Kamanzi, that message has been a great catalyst for people. From reading your blog, I’ve changed the way I see some situations.

  • Great post!

  • =) I have a phobia of falling, so I will not ever [and i really mean EVER] experience this, but I definitely can relate to the overall presentation. These have been a part of my life for the last few months as the hubs and I wait to hear back regarding his employment status. So true. Every word of it. The tumbles and the rough landings and the forgetting to do a simply step and then thankful because someone’s got your back… yeah. Every blessed word.

    • Nona, changes in employment status can be quite scary. I experienced that 6 or so years ago. To be honest, it was a tough time but turned out to be for the best. A better job and working environment awaited me. I pray it will be the same for your husband.

  • Sometimes I am reading to charge into changes, knowing that God is with me so who needs to be afraid? Other times, when He is nudging me toward the door of the airplane… I can’t see what is beyond the doorway… He knows… I don’t… that’s scary… His nudging turns to a gentle push and I’m freefalling… fortunately He is there as my instructor… excellent analogy Joe 🙂

    • Thanks Chris. Those freefalls can be scary. But if you relax and take the time to see what God is showing you, you can find beauty and peace.

  • Tracy Krauss

    Wow! Way to go. I don’t think I have the ‘hootspa’ to try skydiving. I really liked your analogies though. Interestingly I also included skydiving in my post this month, but I certainly did not the have the first hand experience that you do!

    • Tracy, you never know until you try. It’s not too bad until they open that door and everything changes and you know it’s now or never.

      I noticed you don’t have your your website linked to your Disqus account. It is something you should look into as it provides an easy way for people to find your blog.

      And congratulations on your book launch! I bet that was quite the leap.

  • Bill Jones

    Thanks Joe – good analogies and good points about change. I personally like a really good rut to stay in for awhile, but, thankfully, the Lord has different ideas.

    • I can relate to that Bill. Being able to stay in a familiar place is nice but God wants us to grow and pushes us out of that door.

  • Great post, Joe! A lot of my life in recent years has felt like freefalling. Knowing God is jumping in tandem with me is what has kept me from succumbing to fear or depression. Knowing you’re strapped to the Creator of all things makes it easier to enjoy the leap. 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment Traci.

      I’m sorry to hear that your life has felt like a freefall in recent years. The uncertainty that comes along with it can be unnerving. Unless, like you said, you know God is your tandem instructor.

      Then you know there is a greater plan and purpose for it all.

    • When you put it that way, when life is in freefall, it’s hard to imagine enjoying it – but knowing you’re there with the Creator makes it not just enjoyable, but even bearable. Thanks for sharing that, Traci – I’ve got to remember that too!

  • Carol Peterson

    Your long-awaited sky-diving post has arrived! I have trouble enough staying INSIDE an airplane; much less leaping out of a perfectly good one while it’s magically suspended in the air! But your lessons learned and comparisons to change were brilliant! Thank you for your insight.

    • Yes it has Carol! I’m glad to say it looks like it has been a hit.

      Thank you for the encouragement and glad you enjoyed the insight.

  • Skydiving and parasailing are way too scary for me! But I am happy that you took on the challenge. As for me, I’ve faced several economic challenges which have caused me to move to different parts of the country to start fresh with a new job. It doesn’t get easier each time, but at least I know I will get through it as I have done so before. For me change is a chance to grow.

    • It seems scarier than what it actually is. Once you’re in the moment it is all good.

      Sounds like you have definitely faced a few changes in your life. Moving multiple times for different jobs would be taxing. Hope your newest job holds and you don’t have to go through the change again.

  • danblackonleadership

    What a fun experience and some great points. Having some one with you during change or while working on your goals who has already been where you want to go is so important. They key is to find mentors who guide and direct you.

    • Glad you enjoyed the blog and was able to take away something Dan. Skydiving was such a blast and I can’t wait to do it again.

      • It’s great your able to go, my wife would never let me go.

        • Sorry to hear she wouldn’t let you go. Maybe you should give her the safety statistics, as it is very safe.

          • I think I could talk her into it but don’t know if I personally would want to do it.

  • While simply the thought of jumping out of a plane fills me with chills – to the depths of my soul, I enjoyed watching the video of your experience. Your face showed great courage.

    Thanks for the life lessons you drew out of the experience.
    As for changes in my life, well there was the time I unexpectedly lost my job just as I was getting ready to propose to the woman who is now my wife. Then, there moment I discovered I was going to be a father – not the mention the births of our two children. These moments in life can be scary – but some of them can bring great joy.

    • Adam, I’m pleased you enjoyed watching the video. It is definitely a different experience.

      You’ve experienced quite a few changes Adam! I believe I would have been shook if I lost my job just before i proposed to my wife. Then again, it’s not much easier shortly after you get married. But it sounds like you made it through the change and are succeeding! Keep it up.

  • Keith Wallis

    There’s no two ways about it – leaping out of a plane is INSANE.
    I don’t think I’ll experiment with that one – just embrace that particular experience 2nd hand through your post.

    • I hope you were able to glean a couple of great insights from the post.

  • Love it, Joe! I had my first dive this past summer and I’m going again in July. I would say that a key point to this concept is the amount of solid preparation that went into this change. I didn’t jump out of a plane with a chute I packed myself. There was training, planning, and a solid team of skilled people involved in the whole process. I think those elements cannot be overlooked if I want a healthy landing!

    • Noah, thanks for stopping by the blog and checking it out. Congrats on taking your first jump and planning the second.

      You brought up some more great points that I didn’t cover. There are lots of behind the scene actions that we don’t realize.

      PS: Looked at your site and saw the beginning of your bio. It cuts off at Maranatha and when I saw that I thought it was going to be the conference center in Muskegon, MI. But looks like you’re across the lake from me. Have you been enjoying as nice of a winter in Wisconsin as it’s been in Michigan?

      • Oh man! Not 30 seconds ago I was talking with my office staff about how God has blessed us with a mild winter but still given us a bit of snow. I cannot complain!

        • I know, it’s been great. Guess we’re supposed to be hit with a pretty nasty ice storm tomorrow night.

          We’ve had it good for this long, can’t complain about a little ice. Besides, the trees and plants should look pretty awesome in a covering of ice.

    • Wow – great insights, Noah. Those are essential! In the end, there’s a lot that we DON’T do that goes into a jump!

  • Deborah K. Anderson

    Great take on this topic, Joe.

    Your words made me think of all the changes I’ve been through in the last few years, sort of like you jumping out of that plane.

    I didn’t think I could make it at first, thought I’d crash to the ground and never get up again. What I came to find, though, is that the things I feared the most weren’t as bad I orginally thought.

    Although I didn’t have someone to pull the a chord for me, God put a pad out to cushion my landing. 🙂

    • God is good Deborah. Thankful to hear that you had Him with you and that He padded your landing.

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  • Wow! Your post took my breath away, Joe…in a good way. I needed to both read those words and share them with my son. THANK YOU! God spoke through you right to my heart today.

    • Thanks Cindee. I’m thankful it was able to speak to your heart.

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  • I have never been skydiving but it looks like fun. I can see the similarity though between it and making change, they both take a leap of faith that everything will go okay.

    • If you ever get the chance to go skydiving, you should. It’s a thrill you’ll never forget.

      • How many times have you been, Joe? Crazy video! I know a ton of my students even here put it on their bucket lists.

        • Only once, so far. The airstrip I jumped from is located quite some distance from home. That means I’ve put more jumps on hold for now.

          On the other hand, I’ve done two years of ice climbing which is an experience in and of itself.

  • skydiving is very adventurous and fun loving activity.. I love this..

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  • How about this – even though you instinctively and intellectually know that it’ll all be alright, you’re still freaked out of your mind, and it takes a huge push, mentally, emotionally and physically, to get yourself through the door? 😀

    • That’s a good point Ed. We all need a push once in awhile.

  • RcMaFitness

    Great post, you wrote what you’ve lived — words in action! Me? Well, I’ve experienced a few changes in my life — some I had been expecting & some took me by surprise. A few years ago I had a giant accident. It was painful, physically speaking, then it turned into an internal battle to remain mentally & spiritually strong. The one thing I remember from the accident was when I said, Oh my God! It was a very sincere Oh my God. Well, I did survive, & I did come out of it stronger, thank God — & I mean thank God! Thus I’m the proud owner of a scar that has given me plenty of character, & I too thank God for that. Thank you Joe for your inspiring post! 🙂

    • I’m glad to hear you recovered from your giant accident! It sounds like you knew who to look towards when the accident was happening.

      • RcMaFitness

        Thank you Joe! Wish you a fantastic week, & already waiting for tomorrow’s post! 🙂

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  • Shavon

    Speaking how change is like leaping out of a plane. I’m a divorced mother of five whose job “temporarily” relocated me into a state 1000 miles from “home”. I’ve been here for a month and my lease at home ends on November 30th. I’m picking up my children from “home” and bringing them here with me without a guarantee that my job will keep me here. Yes, I’m exercising, tremendous faith because 7 years ago I saw myself here but never knew how and if I was going to get here. Now here I am. Many people know my story and they have been the “instructors” in my life that are with me to keep me going through this change. Everything is new, just when I think I’ve experienced it all and I feel great! As it gets closer to moving my children here with me, many things have come up to try to get me to change my mind and run scared. However I realized there is no turning back now. I’ve been “pushed out of the plane”. So my life is to be continued…..

    • Wow, that is a huge change Shavon! I’ll be praying for you through this change that all goes well.