Strong Enough

I wasn’t super excited about the idea.  I had visions of kids falling through the ice, screaming.  Panicking.  Like the scene from It’s a Wonderful Life – except with more terror.  More tragedy.

But my dad convinced us that it was safe.  That the ice was thick enough.  Not to worry.

At first we tiptoed out.  Cautious and hesitant.  The older kids, those with ice skating experience, braved away from the edges.  They glided straight towards the deepest part of the pond – away from the safety of solid land and out of eyesight and earshot.

The younger kids half shuffled, half skated.  Falling a lot, laughing even more.  Once I realized that the ice was indeed strong enough, I felt my shoulders relax and the tension diffuse.  And in that moment, I couldn’t believe our luck.  To have a white Christmas and temperatures cold enough to freeze the pond… This never happened! Especially with all of us together.  It was both magical and serene.  Dynamic and yet simple.

It wasn’t long until my dad brilliantly decided to test the ice some more – this time driving the golf cart over the cold, glassy surface.  And despite the echoing pops and disturbing crunches, the ice held.  It was strong enough.  Honestly, I was shocked.  I thought for sure it would cave.  Buckle.  Give in.  But it didn’t.  And the only way to test it was by trying it.

There’s this section in the book The Meaning of Marriage where Timothy Keller uses the analogy of an old bridge to understand relationships.  He asks you to imagine this bridge with tiny hairline fractures that can’t be seen by the naked eye.  Then, a semi-truck drives over the bridge.  What happens?  The weight of the truck opens the structural defects.  “Suddenly, you can see where all the flaws are.  The truck didn’t create the weaknesses, it revealed them.”

Relationships do that, don’t they?  They reveal the defects like past hurts, open wounds, and unwashed baggage.  In this season of dating, the closer I get to someone, the more messy it becomes.  Part of me wants to stay on land.  The risk is too high.  The outcome unknown.  But, then what?  Where does safety get you?

Instead, I’ve eased out, testing the thickness of it.  Thoughts swirling… will this work?  Can it hold me?  Is it possible to escape unscathed??  And the answer is undoubtedly no.  It’s not if, but when.  Because, I will get hurt.  I will have bruises and heartbreaks.  Dashed expectations and disappointments.

But at the end of the day, I honestly believe that it’s worth it. Because when the relationship is strong enough – when it can withstand the pressure and pain of life – it transforms into something stable and smooth and transcendent.

It’s rare, I’m finding.  Equal parts delicate and durable.

And the only way to know, is by risking my way out.  Testing the surface.  And hoping it will hold.

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