Earlier today, we took our kids to their first roller skating birthday party. Neither of them had ever been on skates before we got there. One thing I thought was pretty interesting (since the last time I had been there, a mere 24 years ago) was the “Skate Buddies,” which were essentially a walker (but on wheels) for little ones learning to skate.
The place really hasn’t changed since I was a kid. The same hardwood floors, the same carpeted railings and rest areas, even some of the same music (they play a lot of disco-ish music there). Of course some of the stuff had been moved around and given a facelift and/or a fresh coat of paint, as well as (thank God) some new music.
My kids, however, didn’t do well. I didn’t expect them to. After all, it is roller skating.
My son was scared of falling and getting embarrassed. My daughter took off with some friends only to come back in tears because she fell and we weren’t there to pick her up – she couldn’t even get to us quickly when she needed us.
I tried to talk to them both, as did my wife. I talked about fear. I talked about trying and failing. I talked about how they would never get good at it if they didn’t fall down every once in a while.
I had an epiphany when I sat down with my daughter and showed her how all the people seemed to be taking turns falling down. How they still smiled and got back up and kept going. Even when they knocked each other down, they still smiled as they helped each other up. Most of them didn’t even know each other!
No one expected anyone to be great skaters. In fact, they all had joy in their hearts regardless of how much better someone else was at it. They all accepted the fact that they were all at different levels of experience and aptitude in their skating.
No one got angry about someone going slow or falling down.
So, my real question -the thing that choked me up when I saw it- was, “Why isn’t church like this?” It is a perfect analogy to how we (as the church) should behave and respond to each other. I was literally almost in tears showing this to my daughter. (Even in the midst of my near emotional breakdown, she still wouldn’t try to skate anymore.)
When we do church, we forget these things. The building doesn’t matter, it’s the people inside. It’s the joy in their hearts. It’s coming together to love and support each other while we’re learning and growing. It’s picking each other up and continuing on in the same direction (don’t ever go the wrong way!) – not at the same pace, and not always to the same destination. (And, for the love, keep updating the music!)
Why can’t church be more like the roller rink?