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 “I guess you really don’t have much to offer,” is something Jesus never said. When we feel tattered, He offers His strength. When our reputation is tarnished or others knock us down, 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 sees us in every way we want to be seen.
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 reputational hit. 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? 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 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.