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I’ll never forget my first ride up to altitude to jump out of the king air at the local airport by my house. I can still remember feeling the sweat drip down my chest on the inside of my jump suit as it climbed to altitude. The awareness of my mortality had never been so relevant. I remember staring at the altimeter on my wrist, and even though everything felt like it was in slow motion, I was wishing that it would slow down a bit. The thought of getting out of the plane became increasing terrifying with each minute. All seven hours of my ground school training were running through my mind at a dismal pace. I ran the emergency procedures through my head again and again. “Look right grab right, look left grab left, punch right, punch left” I said to myself as I touched each of my rig handles.
I remember thinking in my head “this is absolutely insane, what am I doing up here? Am I out of my mind?” a I looked out the plexey glass door of the plane. I couldn’t turn back now, Ann had already done her first jump and apparently did really well. Everyone would think I was fairy if I rode the plane done, I was regretting the decision to invite my family and friends to the airport for my first jump. My instructor checked my gear and then gave me a big smile, I tried to smile back but to be honest I was scared out of my mind. If he would have given me the chance I would have quit right there.
And then Aaron swung the door open, which created a deafening roar of air into the plane. I began to feel noxious, my stomach turned. If I was in a normal plane I would have went for the barf sack. I started praying to the good Lord for a way out. It seemed so beastly on the ground to go solo on my first jump instead of tandem (connected to an experienced sky diver), a decision that I had made to save $200 at the time and do to my pride along with some stupidity I gloated of my manliness to my chaps a few days before. At this point I’m wishing with all my might that I could get out of the beast award contest and take up another sport.
I could hardly hear a thing from the wind coming in the door and the engines roaring, but I could clearly read my instructors shouting lips “You are up first, are you ready?” I was in shock that it was coming so quick, I didn’t want to go first. “Who ever said I had to go first? This was my first time even being in a sky diving plane, give me a chance to at least see someone else jump before me” I thought to myself. I hesitated trying to come up with a way to get out of jumping in my mind, since I didn’t move Aron assumed I didn’t hear him and then he yelled even louder in my face “WE ARE IN POSITION AT THE SPOT, YOU ARE UP FIRST” I nodded and then moved toward the door. I stood up hanging onto the jam of the door and looked out of the plane at the wing and the props. I then looked down and it seemed like the earth was infinitely farther away than I had ever thought it would look. The mile long air strip was a centimeter in length. The wind was blasting in my ears and I felt myself in the suction of the open door.
And then I suddenly realized that I was about to break the greatest most instinctive law of reality that I have ever grown to know. I was about to enter into a free fall toward the earth. I have only had nightmares about this. Somehow the fear drove me to focus on my training and I screamed each number of my count as loud as I could “ONE TWO THREE” arched my back and out I went. “Dear God protect me.” I whispered into the rushing wind as the plane seemed to fall farther and farther away.
Weightless, flying toward the earth at 120 miles per hour, receiving more external stimulation then ever before, I remember thinking about my life. Everything in my world became simple. The important raw things flashed before my eyes. A few memories from being a kid, one of building my tree fort, another of Christmas morning. I remember thinking about the people that I love most. I could have cared less if all my investments went to pot and an asteroid landed on my house, I was falling out of the sky. I was in the moment realizing how blessed I am while being scared out of my mind at the same time.
I looked over and saw my altimeter at 6,000. I locked my eyes onto it. For that moment I cared about nothing else besides it’s turning hands. At 5,000 I waved off, reached back and threw my pilot chute.
Everything slowed way down as my canopy opened above me with a smack. I saw my two instructors who I had hardly even noticed during the sky dive disappear like dots below my feet before their colorful chutes opened. The gentle ride down under canopy was surreal. I could see the entire town that I grew up in from the air. My high school, the train tracks, the forbidden quarry, the bike shop, our local shopping center, and my house. What a rush. I thought to myself how blessed I am and how rich my life is. I praised the Lord for my life. I realized that since God made the world only a few souls compared to the amount that have lived have been able to survive an experience like I just had. The flight in under canopy was easy, delightful, the rest of that day seemed so colorful and rich.
It is true that all the glorious things in life don’t come without large amounts of training, sacrifice and risk. Preparing for marriage seems a lot like preparing for skydiving. Preparing for skydiving is super easy but gosh you had better pay attention! Because the hardest part of sky diving isn’t getting out of the plane but rather knowing what to do if you throw your pilot chute and look up to see tangled spaghetti instead of a lovely rectangle. Your window of opportunity to diagnose and fix a chute malfunction is tight (15 seconds at most).
The risk of skydiving are obvious and simple. If you have a malfunction and you hesitate to respond then you die. There is no maybe or second option in this sport. Sky divers are considered extraordinary for this reason. Sky diving and marriage are beautiful glorious things and both of them come with great risk. I mean most people don’t die at the end of a failed marriage but I know a few who have pretty much lost there soul growing through a divorce. Marriage seems really risky. Even just the idea of sharing my life with someone who could turn on me seems insane. It goes against what I have learned in this sin cursed world. There will never be anything safe about putting on a sky dive rig or getting married to another person no matter how much ground school I’ve had.
Being married is dangerous. I can be really really annoying, selfish, prideful, uncaring and mean. Me getting married is a liability… to not only my heart but my health. It will be a miracle if Ann doesn’t knife me in my sleep during our first year. Honestly sky diving sounds like knitting when I compare it to having someone have to live with me twenty-four-seven. I mean can you imagine? 🙂 I can’t. Ann is in for a trip.
Like sky diving preparing for marriage seems easy but I just heard on the radio that the average marriage in the US lasts just 7 years. This statistic scares me more than ground rush or parachute malfunctions. One of my friends just called, him and his wife are getting a divorce. This was a great godly couple, however there love story is coming to an end. His voice and his heart sound so broken. I want to be more in love with Ann in seven years, not less. I can’t help but think to myself will that be what I sound like in decade? Gosh, I hope not. I want Ann and I’s passion for each other to grow as we get older. Now is my time to get prepared for our hopefully 80 years together. I have 144 days. Ann and I want Christ to be at the center of our Wild Love Story. We know that we are absolute mince-meet without Him. It would be like going sky diving without the reserve packed. Doing devotions together helps but I want to do even more than that. I want to be a spiritual leader in our home. I want to learn to put Ann’s needs before my own. I also want to learn how to communicate better, how to listen better, and how to pray with more authority. I want to be a provider a protector. I want to be caring, fun, understanding, faithful, compassionate ext….. I got all these things rushing through my head. It feels a lot like being in the plane seeing my altimeter going up for the first time.
Please pray for me. Pray that God would help me to be the man that He wants me to be.
Ann and I are going to be starting our weekly marriage training in April and are looking forward to that.
Ann and I are reading a couple of books on having a thriving marriage but would love any books or advice that you my friends have to offer. Please recommend some of the books that would best prepare us. If you have some of these training manuals collecting dust please mail them to us and we will put them into practice.