I attended East Elementary School growing up. Go, EAGLES! Around my sixth grade year they built this amazing jungle gym structure. The base was 10 ft high and you climbed up a chain wall to the first level. There was a fireman’s pole and monkey bars and all of it was surrounded by a giant moat of little rock pebbles.
During my sixth grade year, I was dared by some guys in my class to jump off the top. I may not come off as stubborn or fiercly independent when you first meet me but if you get to know me, you’ll learn that I am very stubborn. And very independent. I don’t like being told what to do and I don’t like people thinking or saying I can’t do something.
So there was no way for me to not take this dare.
I climbed up the chain link wall that was 10 ft. high (but seemed 20 ft. if we can be honest.) I climbed over the two additional chain ropes that added another 2 ft to the height of the “wall”. One of my friends stood at the top of that wall to tell people below not climb up because something awesome was about to happen.
I backed up as far as I could to the opposite side and when Genia gave me the all-clear, I took off running. At the last possible moment, I jumped into the air and tucked my knees up. Unfortunately, one of my feet didn’t tuck high enough and it caught the top chain rope. I don’t remember much of the next 5 seconds but apparently I did some very impressive high dive twist and turns before landing hard on my back in the rock pebbles below.
It was the first time I ever had the wind knocked out of me. And it was scary. I remember the sunny sky quickly being blocked by the many heads of friends and concerned on-lookers checking to see if I was alive. Mostly I was thinking – “Damnit. I didn’t clear it.”
My dad came to pick me up and take me to the doctor to check for injuries. Other than my injured pride and the imprint of rocks that lasted several days, I was fine.
I’ll be honest – it took a lot of restraint to not try it again. The principal and teachers did a good job of holding me back.
If you saw the movie “Tin Cup“, you are familiar with a scene towards the end of the movie when Roy McAvoy is on the 18th hole of the U.S. Open golf tournament and in position to win. However, he has tried eleven times to clear the water hazard and failed every time. He could have taken a penalty like the other leader and played it safe but he is driven to keep trying because he knows he can make the shot. It is no longer about winning the tournament. It is about his personal drive to do what he knows he can do. Watch the final scene to see what happens – (heads up to one colorful word):
Several folks hated that final scene. I loved that scene because I completely understood it. He didn’t win the tournament but he won.
Sometimes I’ve lost the game, but really won. Sometimes my twelfth attempt was successful.
And sometimes I never won. It was incredibly difficult for me to walk away and usually required some intervention.
- I once spent a ton of money on a vacation playing the Ms. Pacman arcade game trying to get to a certain level. I never made it. My family dragged me away.
- I won a ton of quarters on one of those games where you drop a quarter in and if it lands right, it knocks a ton more off the ledge and into your waiting pockets. Instead of walking away, I used all the winnings to try and get more because I “just knew” I could do it. I lost all the quarters I won and then some. I had to quit when I had no money left and no one would give me any. (You can see why I don’t gamble. I wouldn’t be able to walk away.)
- I’ve dated a few guys way, way longer than I should have because I “just knew” it would work out or things would change. It didn’t. Intervention was required.
- I trust myself to handle my life and get things together because I “just know” I can figure it out without help. I can’t.
The day I fell in a heap from the jungle gym was not the last time my stubbornness resulted in me landing on my back with the wind knocked out of me. It has happened quite a bit over the years. However, I have a God who has faithfully stayed with me through it all. When I’m laying on my back with rocks digging into my flesh, God leans over and offers me a hand. And when I head up the chain link wall again, He doesn’t throw up His hands and storm off declaring “I’m done!”. He stays. Because His stubborn love will never cave to my stubborn spirit. And I love Him for it.