When I was younger my favorite structure to play on at the park was the slide. I hated roller coasters so it was the closest I would get to an adrenaline rush.
It seems silly now- you wait in line, climb up the ladder, and then slide down. It’s so simple, so easy, so there has to be that one kid who decides it’s time to switch things up. He halts the line, goes to the front of the slide, and tries to climb it, proceeding to fall flat on his face. Soon enough everyone is lining up at the front of the slide, all falling flat on their faces (myself included).
A few years later we all come back to this slide. All a little taller and a little stronger. I watch them all try to climb up the front of the slide. It’s so simple, so easy there is no way I could fail this time. So I get in line and make my best attempt, and just like before I am flat on my face. I look like everyone else, I am just as strong, so why can’t I do what they can do?
This is similar to my experience with friendships over the years. I see everyone else doing these amazing things with amazing people. Endless Instagram posts of hysterical laughter with whom seem like lifelong friends. A level of happiness I have tried so many times to reach, and sometimes I got close, but nonetheless, I would end up flat on my face.
All I wanted was to experience that love, that joy, that comfort of a friend who was there no matter what. A friendship that I could post on every social network about.
It was just like that slide, I am watching everyone conquer it, making it to the top so effortlessly while I am off to the side counting all of the reasons I have failed. But why? What is the point of climbing up the front of this slide, trying to do it the way everyone else is, when there is an assured way to get to the top?
I will climb the ladder, I've concluded, even if that’s not what everyone else does.
If getting to the top of this metaphorical slide means feeling an unconditional love, experiencing a boundless joy, and being comforted by someone who will never leave you, then the slide is not the way to get there. The slide is slippery and uncertain, and sure it can be more fun at times, but it does not guarantee that love, joy, and comfort.
The ladder is a life with God. The ladder is a life with a Father who will love me no matter what, who loves me so much that it would be impossible for me to love Him equally, a God who makes it possible for me to count it all as joy, a God who allows me to sit in His peace and comfort. A God who is constant.
The slippery slide is us as infallible human beings trying to do life on our own. The slide is us trying the same things time and time again, only to find ourselves time and time again flat on our faces.
And what awaits you at the top of that slide can be anything you decide to put up there. It can be that friend group you want so badly to fit into, trying to achieve that so-called perfect appearance, maybe the way a guy feels about you, but the slide was never intended to cause us pain. The slide is not evil. Those girls that you try so hard to be friends with, but just can’t are not bad people. Make up and media’s portrayal of the perfect body are not the enemy. That guy who doesn’t like you back could still be a good guy.
The enemy is Satan who wants nothing more than for us to try to find joy in those things, because he knows that is impossible.
The slide was supposed to be something fun and harmless, but we, as broken creatures have turned it into something that hurts us time after time.
In my pursuit of climbing the ladder, it at some points still hurts to watch people climb the slide. At times I still wonder why I cannot do it. It becomes tempting to ask what I lack, why not me, what others have that I do not.
I have done many a disservice. With my eyes fixed on the slide, still trying to climb the ladder, I have overlooked those trying to climb the ladder with me. Those who love God and want to encourage me in my walk with God, they still are not perfect people, but that’s okay because we help each other get there.
It has taken me mouthfuls of bark and many scraped knees to finally realize that the slide, while it can be fun, is not the main attraction. The slide is like an encouragement, something to help us continue to climb the ladder when get tired, but those nuggets of hope just don’t carry the same value when we forget where they come from.
Creation doesn’t seem so divine when we place it above the one who created it.
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Isaiah 40:28-31 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Psalm 1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.