Author: Holly Berg
Two years ago my husband and I signed our son up for skating lessons. He’s been dreaming about playing hockey since he was old enough to walk. He was born in Oil Country, he bleeds copper and blue – heck, he even eats dinner sitting below a framed photo of his dad with Ryan Smyth!
We figured it was time.
Topher was ecstatic! Never mind that he was enrolled in beginner figure skating – he was convinced he had been drafted to the Oilers!
But skating wasn’t as easy as Topher thought it would be. It’s one thing to zip up and down the hallway with a plastic hockey stick and entirely another to do the real thing!
In his first lesson the coaches taught the kids how to fall down and how to get back up, first on mats and then on the ice. Topher was a pro … until he stepped onto the ice. He did exactly what his coaches told him: get on your hands and knees, wag your tail like a dog, get one foot up, brace one hand on your knee and use the other to push off on the ice and stand up.
But Topher couldn’t do it.
Not in the first lesson, or the second, or the third. Eventually one of his coaches would help him to his feet so he could participate in the other activities, but Topher was so afraid to fall that he would barely move. Then one of the other kids would accidentally bump into him and knock him over, and he would be back to Square 1, shaking his little bum in the middle of the rink.
Halfway through his fourth lesson I was starting to wonder how much patience his teachers had. Would they recommend remedial beginner skating lessons?
But then HE DID IT.
It might have taken him three and a half 45-minute lessons – most of which he spent on his knees – but he did it!
And I have never been more proud of my little man.
He didn’t give up, not once.
Week after week after week …
He practiced at home, he practiced at his grandparents’ house, he recited the steps over and over and over.
He tried his hardest in every single lesson. He showed dedication and confidence. He knew he could do it – and he kept at it until he did.
Two years later, Topher is a full-fledged hockey player. His favourite drill is the Superman, where he dives onto the ice, sliding across the surface on his belly before jumping to his feet and gliding away. Skating is now as natural to him as breathing.
* * *
Some days I picture God as a proud parent, standing outside the rink as we learn to walk through life as His followers. Sometimes we’re like Topher: cautious, afraid to move in case we fall. God watches us struggle, but he also sees us as we get down on our knees and try again.
The Bible says that we can “but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4, NIV) It also says that we should “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything..” (James 1:2-4).
I remember when Topher was learning to skate, the day when everything finally clicked. As his mom, I didn’t count how many times he fell, I counted how many times he got back up.
Maybe God does the same thing.
Following God is hard. We mess up and we make mistakes – sometimes the same ones, over and over again! But He sees us. He knows we can do it! We need to get back up, brush ourselves off, and try again.
I don’t know if following God will ever be as natural to me as skating is to Topher, but I hope it will be. I want to develop endurance and strength of character and have confident hope, but like Topher, I need to practice. I need to be obedient in the small things as well as the big things. Every day, week after week after week. I need to recite God’s promises over and over and over. James 1:12 says “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
And I want that life.
What encourages or keeps you from getting back up after a fall?
Holly Berg is a wife, mama, writer and horse nut who wrangles children by day and words by night. She writes to challenge, encourage and inspire others to see beauty in the everyday, minister in the mundane, and share their stories along the way. Read more of her writing at http://scattered-words.net.
An earlier version of this post appeared first at Scattered Words.