Last week I took my daughter to the “Big Kids Room” at our gym for the first time. It was scary for both of us -- the room is just so big and echoey, and the kids are just so loud and pushy, and the directors are just so … few. In a sea of big kids, I couldn’t bring myself to imagine my small-for-her-age, porcelain skinned, blue-eyed girl finding her way around that place. But as I watched the $70/month tick away from my bank account and my clothes tighten from a little too much summertime fun, I knew that it was time.
M and I had talked about the “Big Kids Room” for weeks, how she was a big girl now and that big girls can do hard things… and after much anticipation, the day to do the hard thing was finally here. I could have predicted the unfolding of the drama down to the very last detail -- her desperately clinging body, my smelly nervous sweat, and the unconvincing “everything is fine” smile I’ve gotten so good at. I resorted to my usual fawn-like coping mechanism -- making small talk with the woman at the check-in desk, complimenting her profusely (secretly hoping to manipulate her into liking ME so that she would like M and prevent her from dying in the end-of-days big wooden block explosion that was obviously going to happen while she was there). With a few hard plucks, I handed the screaming, wiggling baby mammal to the innocent college kid at the desk, and before I knew it, I was toddler-free, making a mad dash out of the room. I mentally wagged a threatening finger to her guardian angels, and turned up my music so as to numb out these feels of discomfort during my precious child-free time.
When I returned an hour later, M was sitting at the kiddie table mid-room, wearing her pink-tinted sunglasses, eating her applesauce squeezy pack, and giggling at the kids who ran around her in circles. She. Was. Fine. “Mom!!!!” she screamed confidently. “I’m playing with the BIG KIDS.” I have never seen her so proud of herself. We merrily reunited and, holding hands, walked to the car, both relieved to be safely on the other side of that bridge together.
Lately it seems that God keeps asking me to cross hard bridges -- to do things that I really don’t want to do like leave my family to travel halfway across the world to Northern Uganda (where I will, no doubt, get my *ss kicked), or watch my husband start another God-knows-how-long project in California while I transition to lonely nights on the couch, or navigate these disorienting times of terror, fear and injustice on Earth. “But I reaaaaaally don’t want to,” I seem to be whining in my baby mammal voice about three times a day as I desperately cling to God’s chest. And then today, right when I needed to hear it, my spin teacher shouted “C’mon…. no CHALLENGE, no CHANGE, folks! Keep going; you’ve got this!” My entire body lit up with that tingly Truth feeling as I felt the reality of these words sink into my cells. No challenge, no change.
As I look around to the expanding life of vegetables and flowers and trees in my yard, I begin to understand in a literal way that “if you’re not growing, you’re dying” as this is truly how it works in the organic paradigm. As a part of this beautiful, evolving planet of Holy God energy, I know that I not only want to, but came here specifically to expand and expand and expand into more than I was in the last moment, and the one before that, and the one before that. Change and expansion is not only the nature of the Universe, but the nature of all things including me. And how does this unconditionally loving God make me into more than I was yesterday? Why, with a series of perfectly designed challenges that will propel me enough to evolve one step closer my fullness, of course. As a mammal, I crave the stifling comfort of static stability; yet, as a Divine Being, I somehow know that Earth School isn’t the place for that, that if I am not growing, I’m dying, too.
So instead of resenting, complaining about and kicking my feet against these hair-raising bridges that I am being asked to cross, I am going to choose to see them as my angels in disguise, the perfect experiences to help me draw from something deeper that can only come forth through the first time in the big kids room, or mission work abroad, or facing my loneliness, and these uncertain and dark times on Earth.
Oh yes, God loves me so much that She keeps poking me in the ribs and inviting me to step into and witness my own Godly strength, one bridge at a time.
This week on the yoga mat, we will put this idea into practice, tapping into our inner resolve, our God-strength, as we, challenge by challenge, find an embodied way to discover what we are really made of, and the depths of who God is calling us to be here on Earth. One pose at a time, one challenge at a time, we will expand into our fullness together.
Yoga Therapist, Teacher, Speaker, Writer, Mother