Saturday, April 2, 2011

At the Top of the Slide

We got to go to a birthday party today. Our sweet little friends Ian and Hudson have turned 5 and 3, and they invited us to come celebrate with them at Mainstay Farm. It was one of those places that has a Christmas tree farm, pumpkin patch, hayrides, etc, that rents out its facilities for events like birthday parties.

I had never been to a place that had a treehouse quite like this one...or walk-through mazes...or a massive 100-foot slide! These were definitely activities not quite suited for little guys just-turning three...but there was SO much that it was next to impossible to keep tabs on all three of my little chickens at once. I wasn't so worried about Micah and Conner, I was pretty sure they could fend for themselves and/or have the sense to NOT do something if it was a little too much.

Joey on the other hand...Joey...well, he immediately went straight to the very top level of the tree house, where I couldn't see him. He flew down the (really fast!) slides. He took off into the walking maze completely by himself. I'm telling you, the child had NO fear, no worries, not even enough sense to be nervous.

But he was fine. Thanks to his big brothers' bunk beds, he's quite adept at climbing ladders - and knows it - so the tree house was no concern to him. No worries on the slides - he knew there were lots of grown-ups at the bottom taking pictures of other kids coming down. And he just wandered around the maze until he apparently found some older kids, and then he stuck with them to find his way out - after all, older kids like his brothers know absolutely everything.

And then we got to the 100-foot slide. I had seen it while on the hayride, and had no idea that it would be something even available to kids as young as mine. But it was. And as soon as he saw it and heard "big slide," he was fearlessly running toward it. I went running after him (not an easy task, mind you - in the spirit of a farm-themed party, I'd gone out on a limb and worn a pair of borrowed boots that were just a tad too snug and fairly slick on the bottom), worried that he would jump right on the crazy thing without any help, and as he slid down the long dark tunnel all alone get scared out of his mind. I insisted that he go down in my lap the first time. (Yeah, I'm sure that was cute...) It turned out to be pretty fun, not nearly as bad as I was expecting. And of course, Joey wasn't scared a bit. He hopped back up to his feet and ran up the hill for more.

As I've pondered this fearless three-year-old today, I've thought about how much fear is learned, and how some fear is often a good thing, protecting you from various dangers. But as the day wore on, I found myself realizing how crippling fear - and along with it worry - can be, how many new experiences and how much fun it can make you miss out on. And I realized how much worry and fear I'm harboring, anxious about the unknowns of our near and not-so-near future.

This play-it-safe, don't-like-surprises, plan-ahead kind of girl has been stretched farther than I ever would have thought possible, into a world of risk with not much in the way of safety nets. And it seems that just as I'm beginning to find some level of comfort and safety with where I'm at, I'm suddenly being stretched again - which brings on a whole new onslaught of fear and worry.

And that's where I've been over the past few weeks. Stretched nearly beyond recognition, and still being encouraged and expected to stretch more, resisting with less-than-healthy levels of fear and worry, doing my best to not think about it and stop the emotions before they get too strong, lest the pain of it all become too crippling. And then Joey takes off into the maze with absolutely no idea where he's going, unable to see more than a few feet ahead, blinded by sharp turn after turn. And he climbs high into the treehouse, out of my sight without a worry. And he runs toward the 100 foot slide without a fear. Because in his short life he has learned that even if I'm not nearby I'm watching, protecting as best as I can even from afar. And he has learned that the grown-ups he's around, the parents of his friends, even his brothers and the other older kids will happily step in where I can't. With me always watching and friends always around to help, what is there to be worried about??

So I end my day once again, learning from a crazy little sticky-faced three-year-old. With God always watching, surrounded by friends and family who would love nothing more than to help, what is there to be worried about? After all, my past too has taught me God's got my back, everything will be okay...even if it doesn't look like it from the top of the 100-foot slide...

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C Wells said...

Since I am also a naturally nervous-overly cautious-weigh every option- type of girl this post will resonate with me for a very long time. Thanks for the thoughtful insight Rachel.I love it!

Gammie said...

Little boys not only brighten our days, add joy and excitement to our lives, they teach a Mother to pray without ceasing ;)
Glad you both had a good day.
We are so blessed by your gift of painting a story so vividly, that we can see the events as they unfold.

Lee, Michelle, Cooper 4 and Allie 3 said...

I had been a prisoner to fear/dread several years ago. After breaking free I am very careful to not let it get an inch on me because even an inch is horrible. Satan is tricky - happy to read that you are overcoming.