Getting Back Up

by | Mar 13, 2015 | reflections

Again I find myself using this blog page to write about something other than my writing…but I feel compelled to share some thoughts today, so that’s what I’m going to do.

Today, while Aiden was spending his last day in the hospital, I was spending time with my other two children at Downtown Disney. Audrey and I were at the water feature and something happened that struck me. There was a small girl there, probably not much older than Aiden…no more than 18 months. She was toddling between the splash pad and her parents, enjoying the water feature and sharing the experience with her parents. On one of her trips back to the splash pad for some more fun, a couple who were not paying attention tripped over her causing her to fall down and skin her little knees. The couple was very apologetic and certainly hadn’t intended to hurt the small child, but they weren’t paying attention to what was in front of them as they walked. The little girl, for her part, cried, got to her feet, ran to mom and dad, but eventually decided to go back to playing in the splash pad.

splashpadWhy are you sharing this very common place story? I’m sure you are asking that question. Well, it made me think. About a couple of different things….

I thought about the couple. Why couldn’t they see this toddler? She was walking so slowly. It wasn’t as if she ran right out in front of them. From my vantage point, it was apparent that the couple were focused on where they were going. So much so that they completely blocked their vision for what may lay in their path. They were completely oblivious that something could be obstructing their steps. In this case, they were the injurer, but what if it had been an abnormality in the concrete and they were the ones that fell? All because they couldn’t be bothered to watch where they were going because of their infatuation with what lay in the distance for them. I wonder if we ever do that. Do we ever get so caught up in what we are dreaming about for our future or even what is promised in the future that we miss opportunities right in front of us? Or worse yet, miss obstacles until it’s too late and we have stumbled on them? Do we as parents get so focused on the next developmental milestone or the next stage of life that we miss the day-to-days?

And then I thought about this little girl. She did not have the capacity to gauge her speed and the couple’s speed plus trajectory to figure out that a collision was inevitable. No, she, too had eyes only for her destination. At the last moment, she did see the couple, but because her experience on her feet and ability to balance was so new, she was unable to do anything but watch the impact occur. Did she know it would knock her off of her feet? Probably not. She was only 18 months. But she knew it was not going to be good. Tangled in the legs of a stranger and knees stinging, she reacted the way any of us would – with tears. Then she picked herself up and ran to her parents. It occurred to me that this speaks to their parenting. Some children would have just lay there until mom or dad came to them. But this little girl picked herself up and went to them (actually, met them halfway…they were on their feet, headed toward her as any concerned parent would be). And I thought about the times that life has knocked me down. First, do I allow myself to react in a “normal” way? With “normal”, human emotions, such as sadness? Or does the perfectionist in me prohibit such reactions? And cause me to deride myself for feeling them? Secondly, do I pick myself up? Or wait for someone to come help me get to my feet? We all have that choice. And it speaks volumes about who we are and who we really are in Christ, in my opinion. Do we get to our feet on the strength God gives us? Or wait for friends and family to carry us through these rough times? (NOTE: There is a difference between our friends and family helping us and carrying us.)

As most of you know, Aiden was just released from a stint in the hospital. It was a trying time for all of us. And a learning opportunity for me. I began to see how much I rely on others to carry me in an unhealthy way. (Please don’t read this and think I’m saying we should never carry each other…that’s not at all what I’m saying. That is why we live in relationship…to share one another’s burdens and carry and encourage each other. But it cannot be how you function in life, relying on others for your emotional well-being.) I was in a place where there was no one but God. And I had no choice but to pick myself up with only the strength He extended to me.

Back to my story about this little girl. After she picked herself up, she did run to her parents for assistance. And this is where I think our friends and family come in. They help us process and heal in the midst of trouble. They aide and encourage. They come alongside and lift us up. We had some precious friends who sacrificed time and sleep to be with us and help us through this tough time with Aiden. We had many more praying and standing by, offering their help should we need it. I am so thankful for each and every one of them.

Most importantly, though, is that the little girl went back to the splash pad. She took the time she needed to have her injury cared for, but she did not let fear keep her from enjoying life. I think all too often we are guilty of this…letting fear rob us of our joy, of our enjoyment of life. Fear is a nasty thing that can plague and even cripple us…especially parents. Fear of something happening to our children, fear of doing something wrong in our parenting, fear of “damaging” them…the “mommy” guilt. I can tell you that I am thankful that God’s Word talks so deeply about “do not fear” and “do not be anxious”…and then goes on to give us good reasons why we shouldn’t. It has certainly helped me balance out this guilt beast and fear monster so that I can turn around and find joy again in life.

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Sara R. Turnquist