Growing up, I hated every girl who could skip. I sat inside at recess, watching all the skippers. No matter how hard I tried or cried, I just could … n’t. get the steps and … rhy-thm … right.
I felt so uncoordinated. So clumsy. My older sister tried to teach me, but my two left feet were above her skill set. And when I asked one of the girls at school to show me? Let’s just say the snickering stopped me from asking again. Childhood can be brutal.
So can adulthood. We miss steps. We misstep. We watch others breeze by with more talent, more connections, more looks, and more likes. We watch all the skippers skip by. Skipping.
Before long, we stay inside at recess. We lose our courage. We draw smaller, safer circles where we won’t get hurt.
Maybe we even believe we’re better off there. But check this out: “I guess you really don’t have much to offer,” is something Jesus never said. Nothing can separate us from Christ’s love—and through His love we are more than conquerers. When we feel tattered, He offers His strength. When our reputation is tarnished, He offers dignity. If we go and screw the whole thing up, He runs to welcome us home. And when we slide into the last pew on Sunday hoping for a quick, anonymous touch of the fringe of His goodness, He won’t let us stay nameless. He turns around, locks eyes with us, and offers healing and peace.
Standing on these truths can help us stand on the playground.
Long before I knew the Lord, I knew Miss Lyon. She was actually my older sister’s teacher, but she was having none of my recess rejection. She sat down in the hallway with me one day and said, “It can be rough out there, can’t it?” I nodded, holding back tears from panicked eyes that pleaded, “Don’t make me go.”
She took the cue. We sat silently.
After a few minutes, she looked at me and promised me I would find my people. She gave me a shot of “you’re pretty great.” And she opened the door to the outside.
I bit my lip, smoothed my shirt and stepped onto the playground. Before my eyes even adjusted to the sunlight, an out-of-breath, sweaty boy named Mike Bowen blurted out an invitation. Batman, Superman and Aqua Man were over at the eagle’s nest kicking butt and fighting crime. They needed a Wonder Woman.
They needed me.
They didn’t care that I couldn’t skip. They’d seen me climb to the top of the monkey bars like a boss. They needed an Amazon Princess who could pilot their invisible monkey bar plane with aplomb. In one fluid, coordinated motion, I grabbed the first monkey bar, hoisted myself up, through, and onto the top of my invisible jet, and turned the ignition over. “Skippers, get out of my way,” my spirit screamed. “I AM A FIERCE AMAZON WARRIOR. I fight cosmic foes so your playground is safe enough for you to skip.”
How perfect. Miss Lyon taught me to roar. And imaginative, plot-spinning boys taught me soar.
Oh, friend. What’s keeping you inside? It can be rough out there, for sure. God’s bigger than the people who made you feel small. He’s bigger than the person who exploited your good intentions. He’s bigger than the snub. Bigger than the tattered reputation. Bigger than your fears that you won’t fit in or you’ll be found out a fraud. Bigger than our enemy the devil, an accuser who loves it when we listen to his lies louder than God’s truths.
The thing about hallways at recess is, they’re empty. It’s safer there. But empty hallways are echo chambers that bounce our fears and failures back to us. They rob us of life and purpose and influence.
I see the “don’t make me go” look in your eyes. Maybe you got burned and so you’re scared. Maybe the friendship you poured so much into turned out to be something other than what you thought. Maybe you were manipulated by people you trusted, or injured by people who should have nurtured you. Maybe it’s just that no one knows the steps to your jam. Yet.
Could I coax you to try again, to smooth your shirt, to dust off your unique gifts and go? Could I ask you to think hard before you say, “I don’t have any unique gifts”? I mean, not everyone has ninja-level monkey bar climbing skills. But everyone has something.
And to you Miss Lyon types:
You cannot even imagine the power you hold to encourage – a word that literally means “to put courage into.”
I love how you do your thing. I love how you have vision that really sees. I love how you unleash the Wonder Women-in-waiting who are one kind word away from stepping into the sun.
If you’re a recess-sitter, ask God if He’s got something better planned for you. Ask Him to show you the lies you’ve believed, and the truth that overwhelms them. Ask Him to give you the courage to step into your calling.
Then go find your people—your quirky, DC Comics crowd. Go step out on the playground with the ones who need the very thing you have to offer.
There you are, Meagan. Always cheering. Always steady. We need to hatch a plan for me to come back to the motherland. Love you!
Gretchen, thank you so much for checking out the blog. I love your phrase, “make good use of my vulnerability.” Beautiful. Next time I’m in D-town, dinner!!
Those are sturdy words coming from my first publisher. Thanks for reading, Pres. Your encouragement is a gift.
At one time or another, we’ve all been there, right? Sitting alone. Or helping someone find their brave. It’s fragile stuff, soul work. Thanks for reading!
Love this article! Great job Laurie!
I Cor. 12: 12-27 is such a great reminder, especially when we’re feeling small. Thanks for reading, Paula!
Thank you, Cindy! Every Wednesday I’ll publish a new post. That’s my aim. And if I was Wonder Woman it’s because I had a whole lot of people giving me wings. You made me feel like the ground I walked on was gold. I’ll always be just so grateful for you. (Some of my hair styles, tho. How could you not have TOLD ME! 😂)
Oh Claudia. Forever you’ve been my cheerleader. Thank you!
Laurie, Such a brilliant story and so well written. You had me at “skipper.” Every person can identify with a moment you described, even the “skippers” who find themselves out of their element at some time in their life. My take away is the beauty of helping someone find their identity. The real “who they are” away from whatever any one else says, but only who the great “I Am” says they are. Can’t wait for your next blog
Thank you Terry! The real “who they are” in the “I am.” Brilliant.
Beautiful article, Laurie! It makes me happy to see you’re still writing (our mutual friend Wendy Jeske shared your post on Facebook). I didn’t like recess as a grade schooler, either. My Mrs. Lyons was called Mrs. Herrera, but instead of sending me outdoors, she gave me a job to do indoors—design a new bulletin board for the classroom—and suggested I invite a few classmates to stay in and help me with it. That accomplished the same goal of building friendships, but didn’t force me outdoors on cold winter days to play games I loathed, like dodgeball. I’m still so grateful for the wonderful encouragement and opportunities my 5th grade teacher gave me. She’ll always be my favorite.
Mrs. Herrera sounds like good stock, like someone with great eyesight and foresight. I’m so happy to hear from you!
Thanks Giselle. You are the consummate encourager and someone whose relentlessly positive outlook I aspire to!
Oh Laurie, I love your gift of taking those ordinary happenings we all relate to in one way or another and building them into our wanting to go to the playground to at last do to do what we do best on those darn monkey bars! I love your words and the encouragement they explode in me!! Thank you, dear one!! You are a wonderful writer!!
Carole, your words are dear. I’m keeping them forever and ever. ❤️