Somehow I have found myself at the top of an incredibly-high water slide, which is odd because I don’t like heights and I don’t particularly like water slides. Especially ones like these: the twisty tube kind. The ones where you lay flat on your back and go through a dark, enclosed tube that twists and loops, ultimately spewing you out into the bright sunlight in a small pool of water with a big splash in front of an audience of strangers.
Here’s my predicament: I am at the top of the slide, hanging on to the dry edge by my fingertips, unable to pull myself to the safe platform, but unable to let go. (In my visual, I am about 24 years old and look great in a bathing suit). My arms are tired and I am panicky, angry and frustrated.
The dorky teenager running the slide rolls his eyes at me, “You’re holding up the line. Let go.” I can tell he wants to step on my hands and move me along. A pack of 10-year-olds are hopping up and down, ready for their turn. I don’t see too many friendly faces, but I’m desperate. “Please. I REALLY can’t do this. I don’t know what I was thinking. Please. Let me come back up and I’ll go down the stairs.” Dorky tells me, somewhat sympathetically, “Sorry, but that’s against the rules. Once you’re in the tube, you can only exit at the bottom.” The kids must feel sorry for me now. “C’mon. You can do it. It’s gonna be all right. We do it all the time.” Still I can’t seem to let go. I would rather hang in limbo, embarrassed and exhausted, that go down that dark tube.
Letting go. Surrender. Acceptance. In theory, I suppose all that’s fine. But in reality it turns out that I want MY way. I don’t want any darkness or free falls. I want to see my path; I want sunlight or moonlight; and I want to make careful, steady progress on my journeys. Excitement and spontaneity are over-rated.
All of us have been faced (probably multiple times) with a situation that we don’t like, can’t control, and wasn’t part of our plan. It could be a big thing—losing a job—or a little thing—getting stuck in traffic. Right now I find myself in a situation not of my choosing and although I’ve spent hours obsessing on possible solutions, I can’t fix it. Honestly, my situation isn’t a big deal when I look around at the struggles so many others are facing. But sometimes I think the smallness of it makes me more angry and more frustrated. Why can’t I solve this? “Why can’t I have this little thing that brings me so much joy and comfort?” I ask God. “It’s not like I am asking for all that much.”
So I find myself fighting against letting go, against accepting a crappy situation that I HATE. I’m a bit like a four-year-old, demanding what I WANT! But after three weeks of that, I’m realizing that when I refuse to let go, I remain in limbo. I can’t go backwards to the top of the platform. And hanging here is exhausting. But crap! I do not want to go down into that creepy tunnel. Even though I am pretty sure that I’ll eventually land safely in the sunlight, I just do not want to take that ride. I don’t think it will be the least bit enjoyable. I will be scared and out-of-control and I’ll probably bump into the sides and get water up my nose and lose a contact and maybe part of my bathing suit.
What do I WANT? I would really like to rewind my life, like it’s a film and go backwards, backwards from the slide to the platform, backwards down the steps, backwards to solid ground, back to safety and sunshine, where I’m with my all of my family (two-legged and four-legged), back to the time when I had what I want now.
But we all know that life doesn’t work that way. We can’t go backwards but we can stay in one spot, hanging in limbo, unable to move forward with our lives.