As I climbed the ladder, I began to second guess my decision. I hadn’t scaled the steps to a high diving board since I was 14; it had been even longer since I had gone down a tall spiral slide, and I had never been down a waterslide.
When I reached the platform, I glanced behind me. My escape route was blocked by a teenage boy who offered up a big smile. I’m pretty sure his smile was one of amusement; he and his friends had to patiently ascend the rungs behind two older cautiously-moving women. My friend gave me final instructions, then she pushed off and disappeared from sight, laughing and squealing all the way down.
I stepped onto the slide, sat in the water, and held tight, my fists clenching the metal handles.
“Sharon Kaye, don’t make me come up there!” My mother yelled at me from below. “Let go, now!”
I was four and I was paralyzed by fear. I refused to loosen my death grip on the cold metal handles. In a flash, my mother scaled the steps of the spiral slide and knocked my hands loose. I zipped down the slide, screaming in fear the entire way. Then I rode the slide again.
I blinked and glanced at the teenage boy. “Has she cleared the slide?”
He nodded. “You’re good to go!”
I took a deep breath and unclenched my grip. The second I did, the water shot me forward. Uncontrollably, I was propelled to the left, then banked to the right and back to the left, again and again, at what I am certain was supersonic speed. I heard my scream chasing me. I caught my breath seconds before I was hurled off the end of the slide, momentarily suspended in the air, and plunged, ungracefully, into the pool. When I surfaced, my friends cheered. I howled with laughter. I felt like a silly, giggly little girl…and it felt good.
As I swam toward my friends, the rain began to fall. Since we were already wet, we chose to stay in the water. Our conversation, and laughter, carried on the water of the now-vacant pool. As an adult, I had never stayed in a pool in the rain, so I was experiencing the rain from a new perspective.
I saw it: I looked skyward to watch the raindrops fall from the heavenly storehouse and land at their precisely defined location at their appointed time. The water’s surface rippled as each drop landed, sending out perfect little circles. I felt it: how could something falling from unseeable heights land so softly on my face? I heard it: the rhythmic pitter-patter cadence of uncountable raindrops played a soothing, well-rehearsed melody.
The rain began to fall heavier and faster; the weight of each drop created a ballet of synchronized peaks dotted by perfect orbs. I wished I had a waterproof camera to capture the perfection of God’s art in motion. Then the heavens opened and the once-pleasant raindrops became tiny stinging missiles; we hurried for cover and ended our day.
Later that night, I reflected on how the day how had been the perfect end to a challenging week. The Lord had been intensely excavating my heart, leading me to revisit and write into the messy parts of my story. When I shared, in obedience, I was apprehensive about what others might think. The day at the pool with friends had allowed me to decompress; I felt like a carefree kid.
As I pondered the day’s adventures, the dots suddenly connected. I didn’t just feel like a carefree kid because of the day at the pool, something had changed. And it all went back to one specific moment on the waterslide: the moment when I let go.
During my informative childhood years, I learned to make decisions based on appearances; it always mattered what someone might think. I had to do things right. I had to color in the lines. I had to maintain good order and discipline. At some point in time, I got stuck in the muck and mire of perfecting daily life. And, while I do have fun and laugh often, my silliness has always been limited to a private venue with trusted friends.
But now…it was time to let go of my tainted perceptions. It doesn’t matter what I think people think — or even what they do think; I know what the Lord thinks and that is all that matters. It’s okay to color outside the lines. While good order and discipline have their place and time, it’s okay to let go and play in the rain…and even squeal like a ten-year-old girl on a waterslide...on a sunny day!
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith,
let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. ~ Hebrews 12:1