Life Lessons On The Monkey Bars

Some life lessons are best caught,
not taught, 

like the ones you learn on the monkey bars.

I grew up in a little town that boasted
a city pool and a large playground.

My mom used to take us for
swimming lessons and play time.

She’d sit on a towel,
slathered in baby oil,
soaking up the rays and
reading a book
while we would splash around in the
freezing cold spring-fed pool.

The playground was comprised of 
equipment that is probably illegal now.

Don’t picture colorful plastic structures
with safety rails and seat belts.

The 14’ slide was a narrow piece of metal
pitched at a (nearly) 90 degree angle.

The swing set shuddered and lifted off the ground
as we built momentum.

The teeter-totter was so long and high that
if you were on it with a mean kid,
you could get launched into next week or
dumped on your keister so hard
it knocked the wind out of you.

We had three different types of metal monkey bars.

We had the traditional one with two ladders and a crossbar.

Another one was shaped like a dome and the
third one resembled a stack of cubes.

We played house in the dome and cubes
while we waited to get big enough
to tackle the traditional monkey bars.

Conquering those monkey bars was a rite of passage.

When you could make it all the way across
without falling or stopping,
it meant you were a big kid.

You graduated to the next level in
playground hierarchy.

You could ride your bike to the store alone.
You could take swimming lessons in the deep end.

I was eager for the distinction.

At first, I couldn’t even reach the cross bar
from the ladder’s top rung.
Mom would have to lift me up and I’d dangle there
screaming until she lowered me down
or I dropped to the ground.

Eventually, though,
I got myself up,
and with practice,
traversed from end to end
without assistance.

Without the positive peer pressure,
incentives,
and practice
I would never have made it.
I would have quit.

My life is still full of monkey bar moments.

I reach for dreams and goals seemingly
too big and lofty to attain.
I fall and fail at relationships and employment opportunities. 
I howl and cry over busted business ventures and weight loss flops.

Yet, I press in and press on to build
the muscle,
the confidence,
the skill sets
and the wisdom
to make the changes and meet the challenges.

Just like the monkey bars at the playground,
our journey with Jesus requires us
to reach higher,
to hold on tightly to Him,
to keep moving forward,
and trust that if we fail
we can get up and try again.

Do you have a “monkey bar” victory to share?
Tell us all about it in the comments!