The Value of a Skinned Knee
by Stephanie Pletka
“Mom, have you ever bungee jumped,” asked my oldest son, who turned 18 this year? For his birthday he wanted to check one item off my bucket list. I knew what was left on the list and I thought, “Dear Lord, please don’t let it be skydiving.” I wrote this on my bucket list, before kids, when I was young and dumb. I mean, I just wanna live! But sure enough, he wanted to check off skydiving. Uh, teenagers! Couldn’t it be a pizza-eating contest? Come on, kid. I’ve practiced this one for years. As the date drew closer, my fear began to rise. What if we die, what if we land on a church steeple, or hit the ground at Mach speed? I had an arsenal of what-ifs. I mean, who thought up the idea of jumping into a cumulus cloud at 10,000 ft all those years ago for the fun of it? Fear gripped me in the night. What will I do to the skydiving instructor who shoves me from the cockpit door? I feared for his safety. He’s not prepared for how this Southern girl may react.
As the day arrived and we trekked up the airplane ladder, settling on a small bench inside of what felt like a sardine can with wings, the plane began barreling down the tarmac…
My life flashed before my eyes. I have four kids and a business. If something happens to me, who will do the laundry? Did I give anyone my social media passwords? Will my book get published in the Spring?
Days earlier, I was getting my eyebrows waxed. And the lady asked: “Do you want me to wax your moustache?” My what? I have a moustache? I was in a rush and didn’t have time for a moustache wax, and now here I am, climbing to an altitude of 10,000 feet, and my moustache is sweating. How did I get here? Someone save me.
As the skydiving instructor began attaching his harness to mine, he said: “Stephanie, you are in good hands, as I’ve jumped over 2000 times in the military without incident. When you go, I go. You’re safe with me.” He wasn’t going to shove me out the side door. We were attached at the shoulders, at the hip and nothing could separate us. It reminded me of Psalms 41:1-4 that says, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, He is my refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust. He will cover you with his feathers, and under His wings, you will find refuge. His faithfulness will be your shield.” Like a mama duck to her babies, resting in the shadow of her wings is the safest place. This is the space that manifests protection, peace, wisdom, and joy.
As jumpers leaped from the plane, my instructor began to scoot us down the bench toward the massive opening of blue sky. My blood pressure began to rise, and my heart began to race. My son was in front of me. As he jumped, my first instinct was to distrust the process, and grab his leg. Nothing was in my control: my jump, my son’s jump, the scooting toward the door, nothing. The jump was inevitable. As I sat in the door of the plane, looking down at acres of farmland; what looked like tiny squares of land for miles, I said, “God my life is in your hands. My present, my future, the past that I can’t change, the expectations that I can’t live up to; the self-doubt, the fear; I lay it all on the cross.” I looked down and with a peace that passes all understanding, that only comes from hovering in the shadow of the Almighty, I jumped.
I jumped for all those moms who think someone else could do a better job raising their kids. I jumped for the woman who thinks life has passed her by, as she enters her 2ndor 3rdact. I jumped for the woman who’s suffered loss in the form of a divorce, a job, a death, a move. I jumped.
Sometimes in life, we have to take a risk. We have to jump and grow wings on the way down. We have to take a second job to fund the next one. We have to write at every coffee shop and park bench to get the book published, to start the business, to chase our dreams. Life is never going to be perfect. If we say we’ll jump someday, someday is not a day on the calendar. We have to take the risk. It’s inevitable that we will fall. But we can get back up. It’s imminent that we will fail. But we can take notes and re-adjust. There’s value in a skinned knee. Fear only has the power we give it. It’s like a little minnow in a big pond. Life is full of uncharted waters and unknown tributaries we aren’t prepared for: Plan A’s that become plan B’s. But don’t allow detours to keep you on the sidelines of life in isolation. God never promised that we would live a life free of skinned knees. But He did say, “He would never leave you nor forsake you. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:2.).
Like the skydiving instructor, God has you harnessed to Him so tightly, you can’t tell where you end, and he begins. “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be moved, My unfailing love for you will not be shaken” (Isaiah 54:10). We are not just a part of the plan. We have always been the plan. “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). When we know Who we are in Christ, we know WHOSE we are. With arms wide open, full of Grace and Redemption, dust off those knees girl, and jump. There’s value in a skinned knee.
Stephanie Pletka is a writer, speaker, and entrepreneur whose passion is to help women live an authentic life. She uses her infectious storytelling to connect with and empower women to take control of their lives. A Southern girl who loves the great outdoors, Stephanie and her husband hit the road for a life of adventure, homeschooling their four kids and running a tech company while traveling to 45 states and 9 countries. They now reside in Scottsdale, Arizona, exploring the beauty of the West. For more information, visit StephaniePletka.com