I was a bright-eyed, inquisitive, and determined child growing up which made my parents very proud … well, proud that they managed to keep me alive thus far. I was sure God had granted me nine lives like the cat who survived my brother and I throwing it in the fishpond numerous times. If cats loved fish like the Friskies commercial repeatedly said then the fishpond must be a paradise for fluffy, right? It somehow completely eluded us that maybe the cat was clawing at the water for its life, not trying to catch a fish with its paws. Despite numerous setbacks somehow I survived (as did fluffy) the preteen years.
I can imagine the intensity of the prayer my parents said as they sped to the hospital after receiving a call from the babysitter. In an attempt to send me to outer space (to collect moon dust samples for his science experiment) my brother had shoved me with all his force on the swing, making me narrowly miss a nearby metal pole on the first swing … and crashing me into it on the second attempt. I ended up visiting the Emergency Room, which was exciting enough for us to never attempt the feat again – for the next three months at least.
I can imagine God was not surprised when again my parents prayed for my safety when despite their warnings my brother and I continued to run around the house tied together with a shoe lace. My brother was the front engine and I was the caboose and together we were the Gonzalez Train with an important destination to reach. It wasn’t until my brother decided that I, the caboose, was moving too slowly that I tripped flying into the nearby piano. It took twelve stitches to temporarily repair my head until the next trauma. This not surprisingly happened two weeks later, on the way to remove the stitches, when I fell out of my dad’s old Ford trying to roll down the window with the door handle.
It was pure hope that kept my parents optimistic that one day I would take all my energy and put it into something useful, maybe even ingenious. It was hope that persuaded my dad to continue dishing out thirty-five dollars for basketball fees even after watching me play in my first game (the last game of the season). The first pass thrown to me surprised me so much that I fell backward as my glasses went skidding across the floor and the entire stadium (well, some of them) attempted to suppress their laughter.
It was hope that kept my dad up until two in the morning helping me with a math problem or a science project because I just had to make a hundred or win first prize, or in other words, beat Valerie Jeffery.
It had to be hope that kept my parents sane when attempting to put me in cheerleading. I gave away my pom-poms to a girl who couldn’t afford them and opted to spend the season jumping off the bleachers hoping eventually I could build up my endurance to jump off the highest bleacher plank.
My parents and I apparently had different ideas of success, but through it all they never lost hope in me. As I slowly began to develop what my grandma likes to call “dang common sense” potential soon blossomed. Eventually I made captain of my basketball team, won first prize in a Science Fair, choose to jump hurdles in track rather then jump off the bleachers, and discovered that the handle to roll down the window can easily be distinguished from the door handle if I just took the time to look.
I believe God is the same way with us humans. In fact, he must have to laugh sometimes watching us with our serious facades attempting to make it in the world by our own standards and stressing ourselves over little mistakes. God has hope for us even when we are at our lowest, and we should have hope in ourselves as well. Even when we grab for the wrong handle or jump off a high plank we can be sure that God will be there to show us the right handle and catch us if we should fall. With this in mind we can only hope for the best, and that is surely what we will receive.
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