Last year, my little girl made it about 15 minutes on the ice skating rink before she gave up.
Her sisters kept getting better. They started out along the wall, too, but then they let go and made progress.
But she seemed stuck .
This ice skating business was no fun.
Falling. Falling. Falling again.
Clinging to the side for dear life and trying desperately to stay out of everyone else’s way.
Making one s-l-o-w loop around the rink and developing blisters on her feet without much progress to show for the pain.
No fun. At all.
So she gave up. She sat with me while her older sisters skated and then we packed up and went home.
But this year, we tried again. She slipped on the skates, stepped out on the ice and shuffled along the wall just like before. Only this time, she didn’t give up.
The difference wasn’t how she started; it was how she finished.
I glanced up occasionally to check her progress, but mostly I chased around my three year-old son and didn’t see the exact moment it happened, that moment she let go of the wall.
At some point, though, she skated right out into the middle of the ice, brave soul.
But in order to get to the skating part, she had to get past the falling part.
I take this to heart, because failure and falling and weakness can keep me on the sidelines.
I’d rather stick to what I know I can do, invest in guaranteed successes, and live this safe and comfortable life without change or risk.
That’s a life, though, that doesn’t rely on faith. That’s just relying on my own strength, living on my own abilities without any room for trusting God or relying on His mercy and His strength.
Still, I fear the falling and the failing.
After all, falling is not just painful; it’s embarrassing. Others zoom by like this is the easiest thing in the world to them and they probably feel pity for those of us hugging the ice.
I found myself snapping in frustration at every annoyance yesterday and it took me all day to realize why. My emotions were just oozing out all over the place because I’m in a place of weakness.
I’m doing things that I don’t know how to do. I’m making mistakes and then trying again. I’m uncertain, fearful, and doubtful of success.
And that makes me cranky.
In Craving Connection, Angela Nazworth wrote:
Falling isn’t the problem. Being so afraid to fall that you make yourself hard is the problem (p. 16).
I can choose in this season to pray through my weakness and seek His help in my need.
Or I can grow hard and I can quit. I can refuse to bend or step out on any ice at all.
What made the difference for my daughter? What made her choose this time to take the risk?
Maybe it was just being a little older and a bit more mature.
But there was something else.
She found a friend. Another little girl out there skating on the ice was also seven and also in second grade and also took ballet and also liked playing Minecraft.
The friend let go of the wall, so Catherine let go of the wall, too.
Weakness so often makes us want to hide away, but the encouragement and prayers of a friend might be the very thing we need to give us:
courage in the fearful moments.
comfort when we’ve fallen (again).
and a helping hand so we’ll get back up and try anew.
Sure, sometimes our friends disappoint us and sometimes we even knock them over because we start counting on them to bear all of our weight and that’s just too much.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.
8 They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 27:7-8 NIV).
Our confidence isn’t in our friends; they are a help and an encouragement, but they are not our only hope.
Our confidence is not in our own wobbly selves.
Our confidence is in HIM, that He’ll catch us and He’ll help us. He’ll redeem our failures. He’ll give us new mercy. He’ll forgive us and shower us with grace and love us through it all.
When we are God-confident, we don’t fear heat and we have no worries even in years of drought. In all seasons—seasons of weakness and seasons of strength—He helps us be fruitful.