We inch along like turtles in a rabbit race, two small hands gripping mine. Back and forth, back and forth as the music blares and the rainbow of lights swirls around us and the more experienced skaters weave around us like we are part of an obstacle course.
The two hands gripped tighter as their feet failed them and gravity pulled them toward the floor. Me, the only sure-footed, non-roller skating one, held them up as best I could. They giggled as their butts hit the floor again and again.
Eventually the older one, our girl child, who had been invited to the skating party, found a rhythm that worked for her. She and a friend stuck to each other and circled the inside of the rink at their beginner’s pace. They fell. They got back up. They kept skating.
Meanwhile, the boy and I stuck to the inside ring set aside for beginning skaters. I walked. He moved his feet back and forth while wobbling and trying to fall. I think he liked the falling more than the skating. I gripped his hand, pulled him up and kept walking. If we’d had another hour, he would have gotten the hang of it.
I watched as other parents laced up their own skates before taking their kids onto the roller rink floor. Part of me wanted to skate, too. But mostly I was glad to be in control of my own feet so I could help the kids learn.
“I waited patiently upon the Lord; he stopped to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the desolate pit, out of the mire and clay; he set my feet upon a high cliff and made my footing sure.” — Psalm 40:1-2
It is winter and the weather is finally showing it. Some mornings we wake to snow or ice on the roads, the driveway, the sidewalks. Some days, it sneaks up on us, like yesterday when we stepped outside at 4 in the afternoon to find icy patches on the walk leading up to our house, on the driveway and the road. We slipped and slid as we searched for footing to cross to the parking lot where we’d pick up our daughter from school. There were patches, here and there, of grass or snow that helped us along on the path.
But our steps were cautious.
We held onto each other, to trees, to the car.
Falling was possible. And we had each other.
“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?”
I feel, sometimes, that there is no such thing as a firm place to stand. Literally or figuratively. That all of life is changing, shifting, flowing, moving. And me, along with it.
This does not bother me as much as I think it should. I’m not big on change. I like things predictable. Planned. Expectations to be met. (I don’t ask for much, right?) I don’t mind new things or innovation or creative solutions, but I often take my time getting used to them. And then something else changes and I have to get used to that all over again.
I’m certainly not quick to change, but I am changing. That’s not bad.
But sometimes in the changing, I feel like I’m falling. Or slipping. Or being un-done.
There’s a sifting as well as a shifting and I’m not sure what will remain when it’s finished. (Is it ever finished?)
“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.”
I do not easily ask for help. This is most recently illustrated by a middle-of-the-night episode last week.
It is 2 a.m. I have just made a trip to the bathroom. My stomach started feeling queasy so I went to the kitchen for a drink of water. I set the water cup down and my vision got dark and spotty, a sure sign that I was lightheaded or about to pass out. I sat down, hoping it would pass. Then I decided I’d rather lie down, so I started walking down the hallway back to the bedroom. I didn’t make it.
When I came to, my husband was yelling, “Are you okay?” I was on the floor in the doorway, and my head hurt. I tried to get up. He told me to stay down. “Did I pass out?” I said. I lay there for a few minutes trying to make sense of what happened. When I finally got up, he checked my head for a bump. He found paint chips in my hair from where I hit the doorway. He helped me up, and I had to go back to the bathroom. I passed out a second time while on the toilet. (Sorry if that’s TMI.) My husband said my name several times before I heard him. I made it back to bed. We stayed awake a little longer. I didn’t sleep much that night, probably for good reason. (Long story short: I reacted to some medication. All other tests came back normal.)
“Not to add to your pain,” my husband said, “but next time, just call for me.”
Why is it so hard to say? I could have stayed in the kitchen. I could have sat or lay on the floor. I could have called my husband’s name. But I didn’t. I tried to take care of myself and not bother his sleep. And because of that, he took a day off of work the next day so he could be with me in case it happened again. (And so he could drive me to the doctor.) I suffered the effects of that fall for days afterward, and my head still has a tender spot on it.
Maybe things would have been different if I’d asked for help.
Asking for helping is admitting that your footing isn’t sure. That the ground you are standing on is shaky, at best.
Whether you’re in need of a physical hand to help you learn how to roller skate or walk across an icy driveway, or a figurative hand to help you learn how to walk through a trying time or learn a new of way doing life, ask for help.
It’s advice I need to take more often. I’m learning, I am. But still I think I can hold on just a little longer without inconveniencing anyone.
“You’re worth it,” my therapist tells me when I need to do things in my life to take care of me.
So are you, you know?
We’re all stumbling around in some way or another, looking for a firm place to stand. Don’t be afraid to reach out for a nearby hand to steady yourself until you’re able to walk again.
We are here for each other. I believe that more and more. And we are not meant to walk alone.