“How was school today?” I asked.
“It was good. But did you know I can’t skip, mommy? We did skipping in motor skills and I can’t do it.”
“Well, that’s okay, baby. You’ll learn. We can work on it … Do other people in your class know how to skip yet?”
“Yes mommy. Everybody can skip. But me. I can’t do it.”
“Um hmm. All the other kids.”
My heart dropped. How could every other kid in Pre-K skip but Mary? Did their moms get a secret memo to teach skipping lessons? The child walked at ten months and is an animal on the soccer field – why in the world can’t she skip? My mommy worries started to spiral out of control. I was sad for her.
None of these thoughts seemed to enter Mary’s mind.
The teacher said she was just overthinking it. Mary is definitely a thinker! About a week later, the teacher was very touched to tell me that all of the children were taking turns helping Mary learn to skip. She would talk about it every day at pick up. “I practiced my skipping with Daisy! I had fun skipping with Valen! Lane is teaching me how to skip!”
And then one day – she got it! She now skips alongside her classmates on the lawn after school in complete joy. They love showing off together. She skips around our yard in glee. She introduces herself to perfect strangers by saying, “Hi. I’m Mary and I can skip. Wanna see?”
This was a heartwarming experience that made me realize I can learn from Mary. Because when I can’t do things others can, my tendency is to retreat. I hide out in shame. I avoid that thing, or write it off as dumb and elevate myself above it. I seldom ask for help when I’m the last to learn something. I pretend. And despite my outward strength or nonchalance, I inwardly care deeply and feel inadequate.
Next time I can’t do something, I simply want to ask for help. I don’t know how to curl hair, properly install a carseat, iron a wrinkle, tie pretty a bow or sew a button. These are things I feel like I should be able to do, so I don’t ask for help. I have never played the piano and wonder if I’m too old to learn. A few years ago someone asked me to pray out loud and I couldn’t do it. I felt inadequate. Others graciously helped me overcome that, and God did too. It was an awesome breakthrough!
As as adult, I often feel the need to have it all figured out, but now I see that as a trap to keep me from a being life-long learner. I pray for the humility to step into that blessing and off the sidelines!
Mary’s classmates didn’t like her any less because she couldn’t skip. She invited them into her challenge and they became cheerleaders and encouragers who were proud to see their friend learn. It bonded them closer. When we admit our needs and help one another, it ties us together, not apart. Love unites, shame divides.
God says His power is made perfect in our weakness. In this world of hiding weaknesses and pretending, it can be so hard to embrace them and ask for help, from each other and from our Father.
I think Mary knew deep down her inability to skip did not define her in any way. She reminded me we are loved unconditionally regardless of the things we can’t do or have done. And never for a minute did she think she wouldn’t get it. There’s no time for shame when we are becoming! Like Mary, I want have the courage and humility to reach out for help. Because when we do, it’s as joyful as this: