Picture a roller rink. Kids everywhere. Music loudly blaring from the overhead speakers. Our church sent volunteers to help us sponsor a group of about 30 kids and parents who are refugees living in the area for a fun morning of skating. The kids know some of us from a weekly Bible Club we help out at and they were sooo excited for this outing.
Admittedly, my level of skating is definitely at the “Well, I went to youth group events in the early 90’s and am skilled at making sure the boy I like is by me when it’s couple skate time??” Beyond that…it’s usually years between my being able to work on improving my skating “prowess.” And it’s not pretty, nor is it graceful.
But after helping match up kiddos with volunteers and double-knotting skates, I decided I’d skate too.
Slowly I adjusted to the feeling of not-quite-being-balanced and found my footing and helped one of my little friends around the rink. She was new to skating and was enjoying it, but also throwing herself with free abandon – falling on the floor and laughing at herself. She held on tightly and said, “Don’t let me fall!” She was easy to help because she had no fear and was smaller than I was.
Then I noticed one of the moms of the refugee kids had skates on too – after having tried to convince a few of the moms to join us, I was excited one of them had chosen to! So I skated over and asked if she had ever skated before.
“I haven’t. But I really want to try.”
Right away, instead of helping her, I thought, “She’s almost as tall as I am and I just don’t think I can hold her up! What if I let her fall?? I’m not strong enough.” So instead of me helping her, I found a fellow volunteer to help her around the first time.
All of a sudden I felt this little stab of conviction. Because I saw this as an example of a bigger picture. How many times do I look at someone struggling along and I don’t help. I don’t reach out. I make excuses – I’m not strong enough. Someone else will do it. I’m not “good” enough to help out.
She went around once. Very slowly. The man helped her stay upright and she had a smile on her face. I found her again and grabbed her hand right away. I asked another friend to help us too when I was worried about her falling. Because that conviction turned to a moment of insight and it hit me: This was so much what friendship is. And that community that is such an “in” word to talk about?? This is what it is: relating to people and helping them stand upright. No, I’m not that great of a skater. But I have experienced it before and sort of know some tricks to keep myself going in a forward line. You can say that about other areas of my life too: No, I’m not the best mother or friend or worker or… the list goes on. But I have experience in these areas and I can possibly help someone who is just trying to figure it out. Or I myself, when feeling weaker in one of these areas can reach out for someone else’s hand and say, you know, I really want to improve on this. Thanks for helping.
And that’s what she needed. My help. A hand to hold. My smile of encouragement. “This is soooo hard! Thank you so much for helping me!” she said.
“You’re doing great, I am so proud of you for trying and being brave to learn this. New things are always hard. But I am having so much fun helping you.”
We don’t always need to be the strongest or the best. We just need to lace up the skates and get out there.