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Childhood reflections with a touch of grace: Just another brick in the wall

As a child, the only thing better than getting into some horseplay with your buddies was to get into horseplay involving water. Water has a magnetic appeal that can draw you in when you least expect it.

When I reached the 11th grade, I felt safely removed from the allure of watery mischief, but I was wrong. One fine afternoon, after ingesting twice my weight in sugary soft drinks and snacks during lunch, I felt the urge to chase my long-time friend, Ed, around the chemistry lab. We sensed no need to be concerned about the numerous hazardous chemicals that we could have detonated into a fiery spectacle with our horseplay and on this particular day, the chemicals were quite safe.

Ed and I had many things in common, not the least of which was our large, Doberman Pinscher-like feet. This normally was not a problem, until, during this sugar-fueled pursuit, Ed caught the corner of a shiny metal cord with his foot.

We knew this cord well, as we were forbidden to touch it. The way our teacher went on about it, you would have thought it was the tree of forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. It turns out that the shiny cord was a state-of-the-art emergency switch that released seven gallons of water from a shower head that protruded from the brick wall near the door of the chemistry lab. It was meant for rinsing any harmful chemicals from innocent participants of proper classroom assignments that may not have gone as planned.

What we discovered, to our horror, was that there was no way to turn it off. We also found seven gallons of water to be more than enough to significantly raise the blood pressure of our normally calm teacher. Something about having Niagra Falls flowing suddenly into your classroom can really mess up your lesson plans.

This mishap changed our plans as well. We found that slapping the brick wall tirelessly did nothing to stop the flow of water that would spell the end of our horseplay and give us plenty of time for swinging those heavy, industrial-sized mops back and forth until our muscles felt like Jell-o.

After that lengthy cleanup, we found it much easier to avoid the shiny chain in the future and our teacher eventually lost that condescending scowl on her face and returned to calling us by our real names.

Oddly enough, life has served up numerous other "brick walls" for me to vainly slap at. I've had addictions, heartbreaks and tragedies that I tried to heal from with my own efforts, but the cascading waterfall of pain never stopped.

Once, God blessed me with a dream that helped me stop wearing myself out while trying to be a better person. In the dream, I was surrounded by four walls and no doors, so I was literally "boxed in."

After breathlessly combing the walls for a means of escape, I cried out the name of Jesus. To my amazement, a door instantly appeared out of nowhere and I marched my happy self right out of that prison.

Since that dream, I've gotten comfortable with the fact that I will never measure up to God's expectations on my own. I find great relief in knowing that when life has boxed me in, Jesus is my door to freedom. He has already led captivity away as His captive, so that I need only to remain in Him, flaws and all. I still hold myself accountable to Him for my actions, but I leave the "fix" to Him. My job is to stay transparent and dependent on Him. I still feel the urge to slap the wall to make the turbulent troubled waters of life stop flowing, but then I remember our romp through the chemistry lab and I quickly ask Jesus to show up with His mop. He always does and He never stops calling me by my real name.

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