Playgrounds, counselors, and getting unstuck
Last Saturday was a busy day. We cleaned house a little, I had some errands to run for the church, and we had our nephew’s birthday party that evening, but since we’re awesome, we managed to squeeze in about forty-five minutes at a pretty cool playground in Beaumont.
It had all the typical playground accoutrements- slides, monkey bars, swings. But there was also a big, curvy, ladder looking thing that you could climb up to the slide platform. I don’t know what it’s called. Is “big, curvy, ladder looking thing” not a technical term? Anyway, Sam wanted to try it out while Nate was eating pieces of mulch off the ground.
He did fine getting onto the thing, but about halfway up, he realized how high he was getting and froze.
“Daddy! Daddy! I can’t do it!”
He just stood there. Not crying, but obviously nervous. Totally stuck. No progress whatsoever.
So I walked over to him, put a hand on his back and said, “You’re alright. I’m not gonna let you fall.”
Slowly, nervously, he picked up his foot. “Right there,” I pointed at the next rung. He found it, secured his position, and seemed a little more at ease.
“There you go. You got it.” I really didn’t do much. He knows how to climb. He’s been on playgrounds before. All I had to do was keep my hand on his back and offer words of encouragement. Reassure him that if he slipped, I’d catch him. But I didn’t have to catch him, because he made it up there just fine.
Earlier this week, I was the one feeling stuck. I won’t dive into all the details here, but I’ve been having sort of a tough time with some stuff lately. So my wife (being the kind, considerate, compassionate, wise woman of God that she is) suggested I go talk to somebody about all of it. I called up a friend of mine who’s a counselor, and we sat in his office for about two hours, talking, thinking, bouncing stuff off of each other.
I didn’t leave his office “fixed”, but I left feeling better. And you know what he had done in those two hours? He had listened, and asked questions, and helped give a little perspective. I did most of the talking, but it sorta felt like he just put a hand on my shoulder and reminded me that I’m not alone, and I’m not really stuck, and if I just take one small step forward…then another…
And now I’m wondering if there’s anybody I know who’s feeling stuck. I’m wondering if there’s anybody I’m gonna bump into today that could use a friend like that. I’m hoping I’ll be aware enough to notice it, and that I’ll be willing to offer a hand, a word of encouragement, a quick prayer for them.
Because I think more than anything- more than advice, or a workbook, or a bible study- most stuck people just need to know that they’re not alone. That if they fall, somebody will soften the blow. That they’re not really as stuck as they might think, because if they’ll just take one small step forward…then another…