I went ice skating last night for the first time since I was 16 years old (ya know, the age when it doesn't hurt when you wipe out on a solid sheet of ice). A group of us gals went to the National Sculpture Gallery ice rink (pictured above). I don't typically jump at the chance to get frost bite and fall on my booty in public, but a girl's-only skating adventure just sounded like too much fun to miss. I'll be honest, the promise of Christmas music and pretty Christmas lights were enticing, but it was the hot chocolate with whipped cream that ultimate sealed the deal.
We all laced up our rental skates and one by one shot out into the crowd of people. The 7p - 9p time slot was completely sold out and the ice was packed. I waddled over to the rink entrance and looked around to see if there was anyone I knew that would go out on the ice with me, but I didn't see anyone. As soon as my skates hit the ice I felt like I was going to fall, but I grabbed onto the rail and pushed myself along for a few moments until I got used to the feeling. After a few minutes, I let go of the railing and slowly made my way into the crowd. I had to go fast enough to not get run over, but I felt so off balance. I bent my knees and stuck my butt out like Dana told me, but I still had my arms flailing at my sides because I still felt like I was going to fall.
After a few minutes the sheer terror I felt had subsided and I was able to look up and see the beautiful Christmas lights. The DJ was playing Christmas songs. Everyone was smiling and having a great time. One of the things I noticed was that almost everyone was holding onto someone else. There were couples skating together, friends skating together, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons....etc. If someone fell, there was someone there right away to help get them back up on their feet....even if they didn't know each other. People passing, children laughing...meeting smile after smile. :) It was so touching and beautiful.
I kept skating around and around the rink by myself trying not to fall over. I was just about to give up and go sit down because I was afraid that the odds were that eventually my off balance flailing arms were going to take down some poor innocent child and then I am going to feel horrible. Just as I was about to leave, my sister-in-law, Dana, skates up beside me and grabs my hand. She smiles at me and I instantly notice that I feel balanced. I was all-of-a-sudden able to skate faster and take the corners more easily. We start chatting and laughing and then more people join hands with us. When one person in the group would start to stumble, we would all work together to get them back on track. If someone fell down we would all work together to get them back up as quickly as possible.
Skating alone felt off balanced, but skating with someone helped keep me on my feet.
This experience only solidified something I have been feeling lately. I feel like I have been trying to skate alone....for a long time now. Sure, I was able to get around the rink without falling, but it took a lot of focus and strength...and flailing. Support, community, and someone to skate through life with isn't just important....it's essential. God didn't make us to be alone. He didn't create us to be people that should face life, and all of it's hardships, alone. We are more balanced when we have someone there that we trust, holding our hand.
If I would have climbed on Dana's back, then we all would have fallen down. I don't want to be carried through life. We need to be able to stand alone sometimes. But it is equally as important to allow someone to walk (or skate) beside you, so that when you start to stumble and fall, they will be there to keep you upright. And if we do fall and wipe out royally....which we will....they will be there to get us back up on our feet.
A friend of mine recently wrote on his Facebook page something that he realized while working over Thanksgiving away from his family. He said that relationships are the most important thing in life. Relationships with God, Family, and Friends. What could be more important? I know people say this all the time, but for some reason when I read this, it hit me.
Does a job title love you even when you are grouchy and mean? Does your paycheck show up at your door with chicken soup when you are sick? Does the expensive car you drive wrap it's arms around you when you've had a rough day? Does the flat screen TV you have call when you go on a road trip to make sure you got there okay? The answer, my friends, is no. No to all of it.
God uses people to love us. He uses the arms of our mother, father, sister, brother, best friend, girlfriend, husband, etc in order to hug us. He uses the loving words of a caring friend in order to guide us. He shows us who we are through the eyes of our friends and family. There is nothing more precious than Love. Without love, nothing matters. All of the "things" we strive for will rust and turn to dust, but love will last for eternity.
Do whatever it takes to surround yourself with love.
You weren't made to skate alone.