A Stubborn Refusal of Goodness
With her arms crossed, lips pursed and eyes watering, she stood there and shook her head "no" vigorously. Her stubbornness almost beats mine.
Knowing she would be scared, we had already spent a lot of time at the kids section of the waterpark, climbing around on the tree house, playing with the water features, and riding down the simple "kiddie" slides.
The "family slide," as we like to call it, was next. Her older brothers were excited about it, to the point of jumping up and down. The family slide was the one slide our whole family could ride on at the same time- a giant tube slide that fits up to 5 people.
She fought hard against that, and plenty of other options. She would not edge out into slightly deeper water in the wave pool. Despite being tall enough to ride any of the slides by herself, she would not ride even the smaller tube slides with me or her mom.
I knew better than to try to force her. I made that mistake a few times with her brothers, and I have either learned better or she has softened me up (or both!). I knew if I forced her to do something she was afraid of, it would be small "t" traumatic, and the last thing I want is for my daughter to associate me with being forced into scary things.
She was afraid, and desperately wanted to remain in the shallow end of the pool and in the small kids section.
How often do I stand in the same spot? How often am I more than content to sit in the kiddie pool, afraid of looking foolish or getting hurt in the bigger pool? More often than I'd like to think.
As I write this, I am starting up some counseling with a ninja-archeologist, otherwise known as a Restoration Counseling Storywork counselor. I am climbing the stairs up to the entrance to a water slide I've never ridden, in an effort to understand myself and live more fully into life.
Wading into deeper waters, where I might not be able to touch the ground, is not comforting. Taking risks and pushing myself down a tube slide, when I am not sure where it will take me, is scary. And frankly I couldn't be forced into it.
As an adult I can trust the engineers and experiences of the thousands who came before me on a water slide, but what about stepping into parts of my story that are yet unexplored? What pain will be uncovered? What poorly poured foundations might be shaken? What coping mechanisms will be excavated?
And yet, another question haunts me- what treasures might be found? What bits of glory might be exhumed? Can I let myself keep walking without discovering what God has invited me into? It may very well be the difference between life and death.
I continued to invite her to the family slide over the course of hours, making sure she knew I would be with her, she would be safe, and that we wouldn't have to do it again if she didn't want to. Finally, she reservedly agreed. And while afterwards she pretended to be annoyed with the whole thing, she went onto ride multiple tube slides with our family, me, her mom, and even with her brothers.
At one point I witnessed her come out the end of a slide on a double tube with her brother, laughing and smiling and squealing with joy. It was beautiful. Something had been unlocked inside of her. Her fear had subsided, confidence was restored, and she had found a treasure through the risk.
What part of your story feels like the deep end of the pool? What might it be like to become curious about what treasures you might find in the excavation of that part of your life?
Cody Buriff | Director of Resource Initiatives