Saturday, February 14, 2009

snowboarding, or things i'm not good at



Exactly one month after his 30th birthday, Jon finally got to cash in his promised present from me: a day of snowboarding together at Snoqualmie Pass. Neither of us have snowboarded much, but we love to do physical, recreational stuff together, and since we can't surf much anymore this is the next best thing.

Overall, we had a sweet day together - just spending that much uninterrupted time alone is a rare treat, plus we were able to have some great conversations throughout the course of the day (which I'll probably blog more about later). But part of the experience was challenging to me for two reasons:

1. I am not good at snowboarding. (I have wicked bruises to prove this.)

2. I am not good at doing things that I am not good at.

It's funny how God lines things up in His timing. Earlier in the day I had started reading a blog post from David Taylor, a pastor in Texas. I didn't have time to finish it before we left so I printed it out and brought it along. After four hours of falling, wiping out, eating snow, and the occasional moment of graceful movement down the mountain on a snowboard, I headed back to the car while Jon did one last run. While I waited for him I picked up reading the post again.

Taylor was talking about prayer. About how prayer is terrifying because we can't control it. Instead, he says, "We prefer to do things that we know we are good at and that we can control: laundry (whites only), utility bills, lesson plans, blog entries, chocolate and cold cereal, our Netflix queue, computer code, getting the kids to school on time, lunch appointments, reading our Bible." Far from being a routine task, Taylor says that prayer is demanding work. It can't be done mechanically or by muscle memory. It requires a submission, a relinquishing of power; and yet an acceptance and wielding of a new and more dangerous power. Power that does not conform to our carefully maintained world of things we already know how to do. Power that flows from God Almighty and submits to His will alone.

At one point on the mountain I just laid on my back in the snow and cried. Jon was way ahead of me, successfully finding his front edge, and making nice S patterns down the hill. I was sprawled out on the ground, having fallen for the hundredth time in the worst possible place - a flat spot, where I'd now have to unhook my bindings and walk my sore, sorry self to the next downhill section to try again. I was mad because I'd fallen on a part of the hill that should have been easy and I felt like I was getting worse, not better. Plus my tailbone, elbows, knees, and hips all had bruises and my quads were burning from my wussy "falling leaf" technique on the steep parts.

Eventually I got over myself, went back to the bunny hill, had a good time and finished the night with renewed confidence. Later, after reading Taylor's words, I began to see a parallel between my snowboarding experience and my spiritual life.

I should have just skied. I grew up skiing. I'm a good skier. [I would rather be comfortable and do what I'm already good at than try something new.]

Gravity scares me. I can't give it control. I won't know how to stop. If I'm going fast, it will hurt worse when I fall. [Power is scary. Submission is scary. The thought of failure is scary.]

I am not getting any better. I am falling on my ass and this isn't even the hard part. [Failure makes me want to stop trying. Failure makes me want to turn around, rather than keep going.]

But then...

Let go.
Let the mountain do its job and you do yours.
Don't be scared to pick up speed.
If you fall, get up.
Relax.
Look around.
It's beautiful here.

4 comments:

Sabrina said...

Isn't it so beautiful how God uses our personal experiences to underline things He is telling us? He really puts His signature on it when He does that. I'm so glad you drew the connection and blogged about it. I am sorry you're sore...I did something similar myself and was crying all the way down the mountain...in fact, I think you inspired me to write about that. :)

Sabrina said...

By the way, you are SUCH a great writer.

Haley Ballast said...

Thank you so much Sabrina. I am also a big fan of YOUR writing... :)

Carissa Boyd said...

I love you two ladies, and I love to read your writing. And I love that you enjoy each others' blogs! Hooray!