The Waterslide of Life
When my oldest daughter turned 9, I took her to an indoor waterpark where she could be with her fellow tweens (and I could casually lurk in the shadows waiting for them to invite me to swim). Thankfully I'm still *mostly* cool, so it didn't take very long.
Her friends and I started climbing the long and rickety stairs to the top. I cracked jokes and the kids all laughed, and I remember thinking, I’m in the pocket!! You know what I’m talking about, parents. “The pocket” is that sweet spot when your kids still want you around and you want to be there too! It’s pure magic.
When we finally got to the top, my cautious daughter grabbed my arm and whispered, “Mom, this slide is really fast. AND it goes completely dark at the end. Be careful.” (Bless her.)
“I’ll go first!” yelled one of my daughter’s friends. So we peered over the edge and waited......And I admit, it did seem to take forever for his creamy white skin to pop out on the other side. A brief wave of hesitation washed over me, but I quickly brushed it off because I was in “the pocket” remember?!
“It’s your turn, mom,” my daughter said to me as she gripped my arm, no doubt praying internally. I took hold of the slide awning and pushed off with full force. “See yaaaaaaa!” My voice echoed throughout the tube as my old mom bod shot down it.
This isn’t that fast or scary, I thought. But then…it happened.
The lights in the slide went out … FOR LIKE SEVERAL MINUTES ... and I was in complete darkness.
Ahhhhhhh!!! I screamed. I was in the Panic Room!!!!! My heart raced and I almost threw up, but then…BAM! The slide spit me out like a BB pellet, making me look more like a belly flopping grandma then the cool mom I wanted to be.
“Hooray!!!” the kids all cheered from the top. I spluttered and flailed around, kicking my legs as I tried to find the ground.
Let me say, there was NOTHING fun about that slide.
While this story is hilarious AND ridiculous, it makes me think about life: one minute we’re cruising along feeling good and like we’re in control, and then all of a sudden the lights go out. The ride gets scary, and we can no longer see where we’re going.
Initially when this happens, we think a series of thoughts:
What just happened?! (Shock)
WHY AREN’T THE LIGHTS ON?!?! (Anger)
Why can't I handle a simple water slide? (Confusion)
Will the lights EVER come back on?) (Depression)
Essentially what we're doing is grieving. But it's important to remember that the lights will ALWAYS come back on. We might not know when. We might feel freaked out (or nauseous the entire time). But "the light always shines in the darkness, and the darkness can not overcome it" (John 1:5).
This is our hope.
So in order to go down the tube of life effectively, we can do a few things:
1. Germinate Patiently.
There’s a reason seeds germinate best in the dark. They don’t need water during this time, just patience. So, too, are we as we wait to pass through whatever valley we're in.
2. Manage Today.
When you're in the dark, don’t look too far ahead because you won't be able to see it anyway. Instead ask yourself, What do I need to do TODAY? Then do it.
3. Slide with Friends.
I love what Tina Fey says: “You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.” For real. How do you think kids go down a scary ride anyway? Peer pressure! So don't slide alone. 😏
In the end, as we continue down this crazy waterslide of life, let’s try to find the joy in the daily as we slosh and slip our way out. It’s okay to bellyflop every now and again, but remember to keep the faith and trust that the light will ALWAYS come, even if you keep your eyes closed the whole time.