Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Triple Toe, Oops: Lessons from the Skating Rink

Now that the Olympics are over, I've been able to get to bed before the clock strikes midnight and I turn into a cranky pumpkin. I know. I could have just recorded the events but I was afraid that I'd see the results before getting to watch them, spoiling the whole nail-biting experience. And my nails really needed a trim.

I must admit that figure skating was my favorite. Always has been. Like every little girl, I wanted to spin and jump and dance on the ice just like they did. But I couldn't even master the Dorothy Hamill hairdo so I figured any sport requiring boots with foot long razor blades on the soles was probably not a good sport for me.

But my girls and I watched much of the skating together this year. And they had the same awe in their eyes as I did as a kid. I realized how old I've gotten because instead of thinking that could be me some day, I was watching through a mother's eyes. Thoughts like, "They really should wear helmets for a sport as dangerous as that. . . . I don't even want to know what it costs for one of those costumes. . . . And if our son grows up to wear a fuchsia unitard with a feathered headpiece, Hubby will need to be medicated."

Last week my 9 year old daughter Ava asked if we could go ice skating. Since skating rinks are cold, crowded, and noisy (three things that by my definition don't equal fun), I guess we had never gotten around to taking her. So while running errands last Sunday, we stopped at the local skating rink for her to check it out and see if she'd like to take a couple friends for a future afternoon of fun. When we arrived, the lady who worked there said Ava could skate for the remaining 30 minutes they were open for free to see if she liked it.

Never have I seen a child so giddy to put on skates that had been sweated in by a million other size 2 feet. She boldly took to the ice for the first time while I watched behind the Plexiglass window that surrounded the rink.
Her face of sheer joy quickly turned to undiluted panic. I could see the thoughts running through her head as she tried to keep her balance and her dignity. "The girls at the Olympics made it look so easy! But THIS IS SO HARD!"

It seems she wasn't the only one who had been hosed down with reality. There were quite a few newbies inching along and holding the wall of the rink for dear life. There were even some cuties decked out in skating skirts, but unfortunately the apparel doesn't make up for inexperience.

As I watched the skaters, "good" was defined by those who moved continuously and could make it a lap without their backsides hitting the ice. We had all watched the Olympics with our critical eyes thinking, "Oh, she wasn't very good. She only did a double and wobbled on the landing." But if that same skater had been at our rink that day, she would have looked super-human.

I couldn't help but think of how much life is like this adventure on ice. We live in a world that makes everything look so easy. And I'm not just talking about media's propaganda of perfection (another day, another post). I'm referring to the "Sunday best" we wear at all times to show the world that everything is wonderful. We watch each other through artificial lenses, seeing snippets of perfection amidst careful editing and commercial breaks. We're a society of "cami-wearers" not wanting to be transparent; blinding each other with our whitened teeth, afraid that someone might see that we're flawed, hurting, or human.

So we step on the ice of marriage and parenting, faith and friendship. And the ice cracks with sickness, death, hardship, and loss. And we cling for dear life to the wall of the rink and wonder why it's so easy for everyone else.

If only I would remember that those doing the triple toe looping, lutzing, and salchowing through life (okay, until 5 minutes ago I thought the word was "sowcow"), they are the ones who have spent hours in training and have the best coach. And still, they have days that are hard . . . and often they fall.

Even though I've never been a medal contender, I'll fess up that even my beginner routine isn't always easy. I often share only the best moments on my blog, but remember with each "thrill of victory" there's the "agony of defeat." I'm finally at a place that I can skate around the rink and most days I remain upright. But I still need so much coaching by the Almighty, so much to learn from His Manual, so many hours of practice ahead. I'm so very grateful that God doesn't keep score and measures us only by His grace. And that's better than any gold medal.

So if you're looking for me on the skating rink of life, I'm not the chick doing the camel in the center. I'm the gal with ice on her rear, clinging to the wall . . . and my Savior's hand.

More Than Lots,

P.S. For other stories where I take an everyday observation and milk it for some kind of crazy meaning, check out Lessons from the . . . .

1 comment:

More than a Mom said...

I do love how you use daily observations and relate them to your walk with Christ. Your writing is so inspirational!