It was 5:00 in the evening on Saturday, freezing cold outside (in the teens with a feels like in single digits), and home in my pajamas is where I wanted to stay. But, Veronica was invited to a classmates birthday party at the indoor swimming party. It was from 6:30-8:00, and you can imagine having to put on pants, bundle up, prepare for a later bedtime means. Yet, you do it for your love of your child.
Because, clearly, we can remember the excitement from being invited to a friend's birthday party. Let alone, a swim party! What I didn't realize as I sit snug in the comfort of home that it would be the highlight of my week.
At the party, she happily played in the pool, splashing and kicking. We had actually never been to the indoor pool, so it was ALL new. They also have a twisty slide there. You walk up the two flights of stairs to be faced with an abyss of water rushing down. Heck, I was a little intimidated when I saw it.
So you can imagine to my surprise, when she got out of the water initiating to go down the slide. Here were her various concerns:
- Is the water deep that you fall in?
- Will it go over my head?
- Will I go way too fast?
- Would anyone be at the bottom to catch me?
Valid concerns. There was a friend's mom at the bottom who reassured her she would catch her. So up she went.
I was astonished that she even went up. She is not a risk-taker by nature.
But, what was even more beautiful and restorative was these little six to seven year olds come alongside assuring, encouraging, and speaking words of strength and hope into Veronica.
Words like, "I hold onto the sides to make myself go slow!" "When you see the opening at the end, just close your eyes and hold your breath!" "You can do it Veronica!"
Girls that just met her were more than willing to walk with her by saying, "Do you want me to walk up with you? C'mon!"
Oh my, my faith in humanity was restored.
But, she fettered. She went back and forth, and back and forth. Would she go? I was praying, "Lord, give her courage. I pray against fear." I told her she didn't have to do it; but I think she would regret not going after we left.
Here's what I wrote on FB:
Attended a swim birthday party for one of Veronica's classmates. Let me say this, these six-seven year olds restored my faith in humanity tonight as a group encouraged, cheered and affirmed Veronica to make the plunge into the abyss of the swim slide. Down to the wire with 1.8 seconds left on the clock---she slid down. Everyone broke out in a triumphant cheer. High fives were had.
Folks--it was better than a Hallmark movie and even grown men were getting teary eyed. Best part of my week.
Christmas time can be one of the best times of year, or truly one of the saddest. I'm often hindered from taking that plunge, as I see what appears to the eye as a path filled with hyperventilation and defeat. I walk up, almost about to take the final step and then the thinking part of my brain kicks into overdrive giving me a list of the whys I shouldn't.
Jesus said in Matthew 11 (from The Message):
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
Veronica taught me more about my own insecurities that night as she took hold of her own and slid down with abandon. Her face upon popping up out of the water still held onto some of that fear; but, more shock. Then, she realized, she had nothing to fear.
Jesus reminds me through her that I can give him my troubles, my burdens, my heart this season and all the seasons after that. And that I have friends who want to share the load as well. Maybe you need to hear that you are not a burden, and your troubles do not trouble those who love you, and especially not Jesus.