Two Years After Harrowing Fall That Injured Five People, Christian High-Wire Artist Nik Wallenda to ‘Walk Tightrope in Faith’ Over New York City’s Times Square With His Sister

SARASOTA, FL – FEBRUARY 15: Nik Wallenda poses for a photograph with a piece of the high wire he used to walk over Niagara Falls on at Circus Sarasota on February 15, 2013 in Sarasota, Florida. Wallenda is planning to walk on a high wire over the Grand Canyon this summer. (Photo by Tim Boyles/Getty Images)

Just over two years ago famed Christian high-wire artist and acrobat Nik Wallenda struggled with fear about his job for the first time in his high-flying career.

During a rehearsal for a dramatic eight-person pyramid in Sarasota, Florida, something went horribly wrong and five of the eight high-wire artists, including his sister Lijana, went tumbling more than 20 feet in February 2017.

Of the three performers who suffered broken bones from the fall, Lijana suffered the worst.

“I broke a rib, punctured my right ear canal, broke clear through my left humerus, I broke my left calcareous. But the big one was every bone in my face,” she told ABC in a recent interview.

On Thursday morning, however, less than 72 hours before he walks a 1,300-foot tightrope 25 stories above Times Square on Sunday, which will be broadcast live on ABC at 8 p.m. ET, Wallenda revealed to The Christian Post how fear almost prevented him from ever performing another stunt again after the fall.

“It sort of happened twice. The first time it happened was in the hospital as we were not sure [of] the five that had fallen, who was gonna survive and who wasn’t. The doctors say statistics say that two in five people that fall from over 40 feet, they are fatal accidents,” Wallenda, who arrived in the city on Sunday to prepare for the event, recalled. “Therefore, if the statistics were against us two of the five would have passed away that day. So it’s a miracle that they all lived. So sitting in the hospital not knowing all of this, was the first time I thought of it.”

Fear struck again several months later when Wallenda, who previously walked across Niagara Falls in 2012, and the Little Colorado River Gorge near the Grand Canyon in 2013, thought of calling it quits.

“About six months later, I’d taken a couple months off and came back to the wire and was training to recreate the seven person pyramid in a very similar setting where the accident happened. My peripheral vision from my location in the pyramid is identical to the eight-person pyramid and I started experiencing extreme fear to be honest … to the point where I was trembling and shaking,” Wallenda remembered.

“I went to my wife and said, ‘I don’t think I can do this anymore.’ And I continued to practice for about three or four more days and one of the guys that perform with me, came up to me and said ‘something is wrong with you. You’re not who we know. You’re not the Nik we’ve always looked up to. You’re not the Nik that’s always preached ‘never give up.’ What’s wrong? You need to snap out of it,’” he continued.

Wallenda said he quickly recognized that his longtime teammate was right. So he started pushing back against the fear and negativity that was clogging his mind with more positive thinking.

“I just consider it like a weed growing in your garden. If you don’t pull the weed out, it will take over your garden. And that’s the thing with negativity. So I just started countering that negativity, those thoughts of fear with, ‘I’ve got this. I’ll be safe. I know what I’m doing, I’ve trained. I was made for this.’ And sort of worked through it that way,” he explained.

Wallenda’s battle with fear was so significant he is now working on a book to overcome it “because my hopes are, with my experience, what I went through, will help others,” he said.

Walking in Faith

Positive thinking wasn’t the only factor that helped Wallenda in his comeback. His faith, he said, played a significant role in helping him defeat his fear.

“It’s always been a huge role in my life. … My faith is who I am. So whether it’s on the wire or off the wire it’s where I find my peace and again, it is who I am. It’s not what I believe in. It’s not anything other than my being,” he said.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair