Stairmastering

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This morning I saw a lovely, inspirational photo posted on Facebook. Actually, it was commented on by a friend and posted by a total stranger and hence appeared on my newsfeed. It was an accidental stalker moment, not unlike thinking the woman in the next stall is engaging me in conversation when actually she is on her cell phone. When flushing is interrupting a conversation, there is nothing Emily Post or Dear Abby can do.

Pictured here, the image shows stairs that bear the chalked inscription: “You don’t have to see the whole staircase. You just have to take the first step.” Ah, Pancake Wisdom. Hearty, filling, and sappy. I am confident most life changing decisions would not have been made if the whole journey had been laid out. (No wonder Moses was just given instructions to take off his shoes and have a pow-pow with Pharaoh. 40 years in the dessert with millions of Jews and I’m sure he would have rethought a few things.) I have many friends who now look back on broken marriages, unsuccessful pregnancies, poor jobs, and other aspects of life in a fallen world.  Sometimes we trip on the steps. Sometimes life is better than we could have foreseen.Handrails should not be underestimated.

Of course, the idea behind climbing the proverbial stairs is what is at the top. Unless of course you’re on the gym elliptical or stair stepper, but not falling as you feel the burn is still important. As I trudged up the stairs to bed last night in the dark, I was clinging to that handrail and squinting to see any shadow of toys, clothing, or other hazard. At the top the baby gate peered halfway over the top stair. That could have been the end of it right there. If one does take the first step, for heaven’s sake keep your head up and use your God-given sense.

Watching a Disney movie this weekend that featured a song about dreams, I turned to my husband and asked, “At what point in life do we go from dreaming and wishing on stars to making goals and planning?”  Do you remember that shift? Some people don’t; they declare themselves dreamers. These people are usually not terribly successful and bounce from venture to venture. Then there are the super-planners who are efficient but are no fun to have along on long road trips. Not all potty breaks are predictable, thank you.

The Bible is quite clear about the importance not just of faith and belief, but of having the wisdom to plan and work toward the end goal. “Don’t build without measuring and weighing the cost.” “Press on toward the goal.” “Run as to win the prize.” “Behold, I am coming soon.” “Seek wisdom.” “Do not grow weary in doing good.” “All discipline seems unpleasant at the time…” The point of all discipline and perseverance is the end goal. Impatience seems to be the life theme of this era. People firmly against capital punishment suddenly get very righteous once cut off in traffic or when the coupon lady has 60 items in the Express Lane. Things of true value take time, effort, and diligence.

Sometimes in life it is okay to take the elevator or escalator. Sometimes we have to carry others who can’t climb the stairs on their own. Other times  patiently wheel someone’s chair up the ramp. In  my home,  we have gates blocking the stairs. I’ve had nightmares about my son falling down our long flight of stairs. After a few good knocks from ungracefully dismounting the second stair, he doesn’t want to go any higher. Each day I get on all fours and we try to reach that third stair. By the fourth he clings to my neck like a spider monkey until we reach the top and he dangles toys through the bars on the landing. It really hurts to fall down- or up-the stairs.

The same advice we learned about the stairs as children applies to the proverbial stairs of life. Watch where you step. Don’t go too fast. Don’t play on the stairs. Turn the light on so you see where you’re going. If you left belongings on the stairs, pick them up and take them with you so no one else is tripped up. (This week a perfect outline of boots, uniform pants, and a shirt were laid out on the stairs. I called to my husband to see if I had missed the Rapture.) No pushing on the stairs. Stay to one side if someone is going in the opposite direction. Use the handrails- they are there for a reason. If you fall, don’t just lie there. If you smack your sibling’s rear on the way up, expect to be mule-kicked.  Expect those you love to tell others about your embarrassing stair injuries.

So yes, you don’t have to see the whole staircase. But as much as you can, watch where you’re going. You can bust your rump just as hard on the bottom stair as the top stair.

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