Don’t you just love the absolute delight on these children’s faces? (Thank you Amber Fitzwater – the little boy on slide – and David Massongill – the little girl on slide.) David has titled his photograph, Yeeee Haaaaw!, which perfectly captures the joy of the moment for both children.
Unfortunately for me, I was not a Yeeee Haaaaw! kind of kid. When I was six years old and in first grade, our school playground featured a high aluminum slide with no curves to cut your speed; you just went right straight down. A few weeks into the school year, one of my classmates – Jerry – fell off the top of that slide and broke his arm, and, for me, from that moment on, the slide lurked like a giant predator waiting to pounce.
Most of the other kids didn’t seem to view that slide as an enemy, and their courage inspired me. Finally months later, I decided that I was brave enough. I stood in line and step by step as I waited my turn, I climbed higher and higher. Then the moment arrived. I was at the top with no one ahead to shield me from the horrendous sight of that slippery downward slope. I had never before realized how high that slide stood. No wonder Jerry had tumbled off! No wonder his arm broke on impact! A loud voice in my head began to scream, “I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE!”
Now, if this story possessed a “Hollywood” ending, I would have slid down that slide, despite my fear, proving that I was a child of strong character and great courage. What really happened was that I begged off, and every other kid behind me had to let me pass so I could climb down the steps rather than risk that terrifying ride. Argh! The humility! The angst!
Years later, when I was being wheeled to the delivery room ready to give birth to our first child, I suddenly saw myself back up there on that slide, cowering, a voice in my head yelling, “I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE!” But on that gurney there was no climbing down. I had set my course, and I had no alternative. This baby was going to be born!
And she was, and she was beautiful.
Right now, in my life, I face another very scary situation. My mother has white matter dementia, and I know we will lose her soon. That voice in my brain, that child part of me, keeps screaming, “I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE! I DON’T WANT TO GO THROUGH THIS!” But when I listen well, I hear another voice, a calm and kind voice that reminds me, “You are not alone. No matter how sad you feel. No matter how scary it is to lose your mom. I am here.” During these sad times, I’m living on promises from the book of Psalms, chapter 91. Verse 1: “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress…” Verse 11: “He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” (King James Version)
If you’re facing one of those frightening life situations, reach up. God will take your hand. He will hold on tight, and His calm voice will assure you — as often as you need to hear it — that you are not alone.
(First Photograph, Amber Fitzwater, Copyright, 2013; Second Photograph, David Massongill, Copyright, 2010. Used with permission.)