I am 6’7″. It’s no secret that I am tall (in fact it’s rather obvious), and the reactions I get when I first meet people range from ‘You’re a big one aint’cha?’ to the ever popular, ‘How’s the weather up there?’ At least once a month I am approached by an elderly person in a grocery store to get something off of the top shelf. I walk into my daughter’s classroom to a chorus of ooos and aaahs because Savannah wasn’t lying when she said her daddy was bigger than their daddies. Most people think it’s great to be tall, and I have to admit that it has it’s perks. I rarely have to ask for help to get stuff off the top shelf. I intimidate prospective boyfriends easily. I can see the path of least resistance when navigating through a crowd. People listen when you say ‘Excuse me.’ You never get picked last in a game of pick-up basketball. Dusting the ceiling fan is easy.
But being tall has its drawbacks too. You hit your head on everything that ‘average’ people miss. Clothes shopping never starts with the question ‘What do I like?’ but rather the question, ‘What will fit?’ The ‘Big and Tall’ section is a misnomer, it should read ‘Big OR Tall.’ Roller Coasters require you to be a contortionist if you wish to ride. Compact cars resemble roller skates and airplanes are a body-sized Chinese finger trap. Everyone assumes you are good at basketball when the best you can do is catch the ball with your face. But none of those are the worst part of being tall. They pale in comparison to the worst part: the process.
Being tall is great, getting there is painful. First there are the growing pains. Leg cramps. Achy joints. Sleepless nights. I have firsthand experience with all these. And then there are the periods of clumsiness that follow each growth spurt. It’s as if your body has decided to lead a rebellion against your ability to do the simplest of tasks, like walking in a straight line. In some sick cosmic joke your elbows will knock anything breakable off a shelf within ten feet. When you run you resemble a drunk ostrich desperately trying to escape the jaws of a terrifying predator. Something as simple as throwing a ball makes you look like an albatross attempting flight for the first time. My early teen years were marked by bumps and bruises as I tripped and bounced my way through adolescence. But there were emotional scars as well. Kids can be cruel. I was teased for everything from being skinny (another benefit of high metabolism) to being a clutz to being unathletic. I would make the baseball team one year only to be cut the next year because my new-found wingspan had destroyed my throwing motion.
My second daughter seems to have inherited my propensity for growth-spurts followed by clutz-attacks. In recent days she has come home with bandages on hands and knees because she tripped over the air in P.E. class. She has slipped off the swing (granted, that was because her little sister bet her that she couldn’t swing without using her hands), but on her way to tell us she tripped and fell, twice. She has fallen down stairs, off of bikes and we have had to replace our fair share of glassware because she has misjudged the distance her arms can reach. Her frequent forays into the world of the gracefully challenged have lead us to joke with her that she has to do random gravity checks with her body to make sure that particular scientific law is still in effect.
What is awesome is how she handles it. She has that rare gift of being able to laugh at herself while others point and laugh at her. She giggles and shrugs and then she gets up and moves on. She wears her bandages as badges of honor and jokes about how she fell off her bike for no particular reason other than the ground reached up and bit her. Oh that we could fare so well!
The spiritual life is one growing pain after another, and these are followed by gravity checks. Just when we think we have life with God figured out, Satan trips us up. A stumble here, a fall there, and before we know it, our walk with God resembles an accident scene rather than a Sunday constitutional. We have a lot to learn from my 10-year-old daughter. If only we could follow her example and shake it off and get back up again. But too often we choose to wallow in guilt and self-deprecation, and in doing so we miss a chance to grow and mature into the Christian God wants us to be.
But lately I’ve discovered that Satan isn’t the only one who throws a gravity check our way. Sometimes it’s God. Just as our body must go through periods of discomfort in order to grow, our soul must be pulled and kneaded in order to mature. There are times that God, like a mother bird, nudges us out of the nest. A new promotion with added responsibility nudges you close to the edge. Realizing your daughter needs a good example of what a man is so she will choose a good man to marry nudges you. Church leadership approaches you with an opportunity to use your gifts in ministry, and you feel the feathery nudge of God’s wing, and before you know it you are in that uncomfortable state of free-fall. You have left the nest and God is waiting for you to open your wings. Sure, you’re clumsy at first because this is something new. Yes, you are going to make mistakes, but be able to laugh at yourself when you do. It is growth that God is after and grow we must if we are to continue to live and abide with Him. Here’s the difference between Satan and God: Satan wants you to fall, never to rise again whereas God throws you a gravity check to see if you will trust in Him enough to fly.
So, what do you say? Are you willing to endure some gravity checks in the name of growth? The process may be painful, but I guarantee you the benefits are worth it!