Lessons from the Trampoline
For about two years, McKenzie has been begging us for a trampoline. When someone can do a split like this, it is a little tough to keep saying no. She screamed with delight on Christmas morning when she realized her wish came true.
And then we had to put it together.
Well, Steve had to put it together.
He dragged the heavy boxes to the backyard and started the assembly process.
Except he didn’t read the directions.
Which led to a much longer assembly process than planned.
Before we all roll our eyes and say, “Ah, why didn’t he read the directions?” I just need to say that Steve might have more of a servant’s heart than anyone I have met. He would stand in 20 degree weather for five hours to put that trampoline together and never complain. If you asked him to carry fourteen boxes to the attic from your car, he wouldn’t hesitate. Scratch that. You wouldn’t even have to ask him. He would just start unloading the car. I cannot think of one project I have started where he seemed annoyed or told me he was too tired to help. He is an incredible person so I will cut him some slack for ignoring the directions.
Even so, if he had read the directions, he might have avoided having to install the springs on the new trampoline three times.
My oldest and I watched from the kitchen and were very compassionate and encouraging about the process: We giggled and decided to give him a hard time for at least three days. Oh, and we stayed inside the warm house instead of helping.
McKenzie trudged inside at various times, in her mud-covered winter boots, updating all of us on the lack of progress. It sounded something like this: “Dad just had to take all of the springs off again. They weren’t lining up right.”
Keep in mind that these aren’t rubber band type springs. I could barely stretch one an inch, and Steve had impressive blisters on his hands by the time the whole event was finished.
Each time I walked by the window, it looked like little progress was being made.
We finally had to leave for the family Christmas dinner. The trampoline would have to wait.
McKenzie never stopped smiling though. She was so excited and never lost sight about what was to come. She knew there would be a trampoline eventually.
As I think about changing the “people don’t change” file in my brain, this trampoline experience is a good word picture for me to remember.
Change takes time. Sometimes it means taking the time to get legitimate instructions from a reliable source and not think we can change on our own. When we are in the middle of the pain or the process or the mess, it can feel like things will never change.
We also have to be willing to look at the big picture and trust that just because things are so messy right now, it doesn’t mean it will always stay like this.
I want to be like McKenzie and not lose sight of what the final product might be.
Anne Lamott wrote one of my favorite spiritual memoirs called Traveling Mercies. I highly recommend it. It is laugh out loud funny, but also offers depth, wisdom and an authenticity that is difficult to match. Around the time that Anne became a Christian, “she was 30 years old, living on a houseboat in Sausalito, trying to write in the daytime and drinking herself into oblivion every night.” She was also a cocaine addict and had recently had an abortion from an affair with a married man.
If I am honest, I often stay stuck in this part of a story and only see the mess. I forget that the story isn’t finished and that God doesn’t always follow my timeline. You can read about Anne’s conversion here (although I recommend reading the delightful memoir instead), but even after she became a Christian, there was little noticeable change at first. She continued to struggle with her addiction and didn’t become sober for a year.
She will tell you there are still parts of her life that continue to be messy and always will be, but she also knows the hope of Christ and real transformation and change.
And maybe that is the first step in this mission of mine to change the files in my brain.
Looking out my kitchen window today, I see McKenzie happily jumping on her favorite new gift. There is no evidence that there was a struggle to reach this place of jumping bliss, but I don’t want to forget. I need to remind myself of how impatient and worried I felt as I watched the process, sure that our yard would forever be filled with springs and metal and poles, but no real trampoline.
If I would have walked into Anne Lamott’s houseboat so many years ago, I might have thought, “This is beyond hope.” But it wasn’t. It was just the middle of the story and part of the process. The process has been painful and long, but has included much healing, hope and change.
It is truth I want to remind myself of every single day.