Balance beams and rocks: the art of slowing down.



Two days ago I was walking with Eleanor around the property we’re currently living on as we prepare to head to Thailand. Our regular walks lead us to a large retaining wall. The top edge of the wall has always presented itself as a balance beam for Eleanor and her walking partners to practice their growing gymnastics skills. This time the balance beam had new obstacles – large rocks. Rather than stepping over the rocks or stepping off the wall and moving along the hill beside the retaining wall, she bent down, looked at me and stated,

“Dad, I’m going to move the rocks so I can keep walking on this wall.”

In my adult mind, moving around the rocks, or stepping over them would’ve been the easier task. However, for Ella, these were objects that needed to be dealt with not ignored. With her own strength she tried to move the rocks but could only manage small, labored movements. Without anger, frustration, or hesitation, she called to me,

“Dad, can you please help me move the rocks?”

Like any decent human being (insert sarcastic tone here) I thought to myself, “those rocks aren’t that big, you could move them on your own. Furthermore, you don’t need to move them, just walk around them or over them, you’re big enough.” My heart was softer than my brain, so I walked over, and with her strength and mine, moved the rocks and then proceeded along the wall. Ten minutes later our journey brought us back to the wall. This time there were no rocks to move – we had moved them together.

The cost of moving those rocks was time, energy, and humility. Time to slow and not rush to the top of the hill. Energy spent on something that, in the moment, didn’t seem to matter. Humility to ask for help, realizing that she may have been able to do it on her own, it was better to do it with help.  The result – a clear path, safety, and togetherness.

On August 9th, we joined in celebrating and launching our close friends, the Price’s, to Thailand. 

When we began the journey with them last year, we knew there were so many potential wins and challenges that would come with launching in team. One of such challenges was whether we would be able to launch together? Would our funding coming in at the same time? Would we complete our training at the same time? Would we be able to find housing together… and the list goes on.

Thankfully, we’ve seen each of those things and others far exceed our expectation, and with great joy we can say thank-you to our Father for allowing things to be very much “together”.

Our hope was to fly together, land together, and begin life in Thailand…together.

This is still happening, but not as originally planned or hoped for. The reason is complex, yet simple – there are rocks on the wall that need to be moved; rocks that aren’t to be stepped over, or walked around, but moved.

For us, speaking transparently, it’s realizing the rocks were preventing us from being together as a family; husband and wife, father and mother, son and daughter.

The cost of preparation while working full time can be immense but doable. The rocks we discovered on our wall, as we approached our hoped for August 9th departure date, were rocks that we had put there, and had worked really hard to put there without paying attention. We justified being apart for long periods of time with the need to raise support, awareness, and invite others into the journey. The dream of arriving before September fueled the intensity of our drive, and further justified neglecting dealing with blindspots we knew existed, but chose not to deal with because, “we can get to that later.”

The cost was being apart as a couple and as a family for extended periods of time – for our family of sensitive souls, this was a big deal. We felt it and saw it as a couple in our marriage, and our kids felt it and showed us this in their speech and conduct. Note to the wise, listen to your 4 year olds and 18 month year olds, there is much wisdom in their developing minds. The greater cost was laying a stone on the wall that would need to be dealt with at a later time. It would cost us and others time, energy, and a request for help.

The realization of these rocks came while we were wrapping up a major trip across Western Canada.

Rather than stepping around them, or jumping over them, we’ve paused as a family to slow down and see the rocks, dedicate some energy to move them, and requested the help of others in the process.

The hope is that our launch and arrival into Thailand would be marked by healthy patterns of slowing, appropriate dedication of energy, and an invitation to not “go it alone”.

The cost of realizing this now, is that our plans aren’t coming to pass, but His plans are.

We are excited to watch, listen, and eventually participate in the Thailand adventure with our friends. Together, the Prices and the Wylie’s will move rocks in Thailand, until then, we’re practicing the discipline here, as a family.

The goal is to launch healthy and together, aware of what it takes to balance on walls and remove rocks – together.


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