A couple of weeks ago, Adam and I celebrated our birthdays. My in-laws' gift to us was a couple of nights at a local hotel with an indoor water park. Alone time and uninterrupted sleep being rare and precious commodities in our house, we decided to spend our days together with the kids splashing around in the pools and water slides, then each of us took one evening and overnight to stay in the room alone.
I didn't end up spending my evening alone. In fact, I picked up my 19-year-old niece to go for coffee and we spent the next several hours talking about everything from college to boys to Christianity to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Finally, as midnight was approaching, I decided I'd better take her home, lest she turn into a pumpkin.
After a lovely full night's sleep without anyone bumping into me in bed, I took a few final rides on the 160-foot water slide before checking out. God used that opportunity to teach me some important lessons.
- It's okay to have fun by myself, in fact, it's necessary Rosi and I had had a blast riding the water slide together our first day at the hotel. Unfortunately, they had to close the slide for maintenance the afternoon of the second day, so she wasn't able to ride on it again. We splashed around in the other pools (there were three total, plus two hot tubs) and slid down the kiddie slides with Adam and Ian.
- Trusting the one who designed the course makes the ride a whole lot more fun. Prior to this hotel stay, the last time I'd gone down a water slide was not a good experience for me. That slide was completely enclosed so I couldn't really see what was coming next. I ended up off balance, landing in the water on my belly and hitting my elbow on the end of the slide.
After discovering the big slide was open again the next morning, I thought about picking up the kids for a quick visit. But, I figured by the time I drove home, we got them ready to go, drove back to the hotel, and actually were ready to use the pool, it would be nearly time to check out. So I went down the slide a couple of times on my own, thinking about how much fun Rosi would have had if she were there, and feeling a bit guilty that she wasn't able to experience it with me.
As I climbed up out of the pool after my second or third ride, the thought occurred to me that I didn't need to feel guilty because I wasn't doing anything wrong. Not only was it good for me to be having fun on my own, but it was important. Nobody can be having fun all the time. In this broken world, at any given moment someone (probably lots and lots of someones) are hurting or hungry or afraid. If we limit our own enjoyment of life to only that which can simultaneously be enjoyed by everyone else, we're not going to enjoy anything.
I don't mean to suggest that we shouldn't do what all we can to help those who are hungry or hurting, but not enjoying the pleasure that is in my life, because everyone else can't share it with me, simply leaves me miserable without offering any benefit to anyone.
With those memories at the forefront of my mind, I was feeling pretty cautious the first few times I rode down this new slide. I kept my hands pressed against the sides to slow myself down and help stay upright. As I continued to slide, I started feeling more comfortable with the ride, but I still worried that if I didn't hold on, I'd start going too fast or tip over to one side or suffer some nasty accident--160 feet down looks awfully high from the top!
After about a dozen rides, it occurred to me that any water slide designer worth his salt would naturally design a slide that's really difficult to fall from. Furthermore, any park that installs a slide would have a vested interest in the safety of the riders, if for no other reason than because injuries are bad for business.
Finally, I gathered up the courage to let go, just sliding down with the water and not worrying (too much) about losing control or falling off. My last couple of rides were definitely the best ones of the whole visit. I wasn't tense or worried. Splashing from one side to the other as I rode around the curves was fun rather than scary. Believing that the creator of the ride knew what he was doing and trusting that he had it all worked out to keep me where I was supposed to be allowed me to appreciate the topsy-turvy feeling, smile at the rush of wind in my face, and anticipate the splash at the end.