By Denae Jones –
We took the kids hiking and exploring in the creeks at East Fork over the weekend. They all have adventurous spirits, and it made me laugh at how excited they would get to run ahead, splash in the water, and count snakes hiding in the creek along the way. (Almost as excited as when they counted the curse words they heard at a men’s softball game earlier in the day.)
The older kids had gotten way ahead of our six-year old, so she was hanging towards the back with me when a snake came swimming in the water near her feet. In her effort to get away from it, she slipped on a moss-covered rock and took a pretty hard fall. I brushed her off and she held my hand for a while, as we made more careful choices about which rocks we stepped on. I showed her how to judge which ones were unstable, which were dangerous, and which were probably pretty safe, and then I let her navigate.
Pretty soon, she was instructing me. “Don’t step on that one! It’s probably slippery. Watch out for that rock. It has a pointy edge.” Feeling pretty confident in herself, she said, “Step here, Mama. This one is flat and dry and safe as can be.” So I did. And a huge snake came crawling out from under it. She looked at me, wide-eyed. She was surprised that something that looked completely safe could still have something potentially dangerous lurking beneath.
For a brief moment, she looked at me like she had been betrayed. She had done everything right. She took time and thought it through. She only stepped where it was safe, and it ended up being scary anyway. We both just stood there for a minute, and she looked up at me. It was such a defining moment, because she didn’t even have to say anything. I could see behind her eyes that she was trying to make a choice. She could spend the rest of the hike hiding behind me and worrying that there was danger under every rock, or she could laugh at what just happened and look at it as an adventure. A lesson. Something to look out for the next time. After a long pause, she smiled and said, “That was really cool! But I’m glad you were holding my hand.”
I was pretty proud of our kids by the end of this hiking trip. At one point, they even walked across a fallen tree that went across a deep crevice of water. Every one of them walked across. Even the girls, who were scared. But they did it afraid and felt so accomplished at the other side!
How often do we face a version of that same situation in our own lives? We play it safe. We make all of the right choices. We do all of the right things. And still, the unexpected happens. Sometimes it’s something we can laugh off and view as an adventure. Other times, the unexpected is devastating. Heartbreaking. Infuriating. Unfair.
Either way, we have a choice to make. Are we going to let that situation scare us into spending our time worrying that there is something awful lurking under every rock? Leave us bitter? Make us angry? Or are we going to let it be a lesson in how to do things differently? Make a new start? Give forgiveness? Do it afraid?
Unfortunately, there are proverbial ‘snakes’ under even the safest rocks. The inevitable will happen, it’s just a matter of when. Hopefully when we face times that are difficult, we will all have at least one person there to hold our hand and make it a little less scary. “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.” Psalm 73:23
Have a blessed week, friends!