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by Mary Wright Baylor


Slides April 2015


“Wheee!!” my toddler granddaughter squealed the first time she glided down the playground slide into my waiting arms recently. Finally. The preamble to this athletic feat was not easy. Initially, she fiercely clasped the top of the jungle gym for her dear life. After grandmotherly coaxing, but with trembling anxiety and stricken face, she eventually surrendered and surprised both of us by letting go and sliding down. Absolutely delighted with her triumph, she raced back around to the steps ready for more. Again and again and again.

There are so many lessons to be learned from a toddler on the playground. When she trusted me enough to realize that I wouldn’t let anything happen to her, my grandchild released her vice grip and slid down, giggling through her toothy grin. How well do we grown-ups remember this example? When we trust another person deeply, do we really release our hold and savor the ride to follow? Or do we simply avoid and resist the challenge entirely? More to the point of Eastertide, how well do we release our grip on controlling our journey? How well do we practice a toddler-like faith, knowing that God will catch us at the bottom of the slide? (Author’s note: I am desperately trying not to use the over popularized phrase “Let go and let God” but it seems to keep popping up like the other side of the seesaw.)

I am a self-proclaimed worrywart. Often, I know that my fretting and anxiety make me cling fiercely, chant a litany of “I can’ts and what ifs” but, on grace-filled occasions, I do surrender into a “slide” of faith. “Wheee!!”

So, how can grown-ups maintain a toddler’s faith during the inevitable ups and downs of our lives? What do we do to keep us fit? Like a child learning to play on a jungle gym or an Olympic athlete preparing for competition, I know I need to devote time and practice to my prayer life. Usually when I get overwhelmed, if I am truly honest, I can see that I’ve abbreviated my daily readings or skipped centering prayer. For me, diligent adherence to my spiritual disciplines is essential to surrender. Again and again and again.

May this Eastertide be a time for each of us to summon the determination and persistence of a toddler to face new slides and surrender into life with all its predictable seesaws. I know I intend to practice those faith-filled exercises that will embolden me to let loose and squeal with confidence, “Wheee!”

What “slides” have you resisted in your life? Are you ready to attempt the ride? How best will YOU get ready to tackle those challenges? What steps to you need to take to let go?

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