The first roller coaster type of ride I was ever on was Space Mountain at Disney World. I don’t remember when this was, but I was an older child, too old for this to have been my first experience with roller coasters. Years later, my brother, cousin and I would stand in line at Six Flags Great America to ride The Demon, which at the time would have been my first upside-down roller coaster if we hadn’t been too freaked out by a malfunction that left riders stranded on one of the loops. We picked another ride.
I wouldn’t say roller coasters are my favorite pastime. We joke around this house that if our daughter continues on her daredevil bent, then my husband will be the one to ride with her, even though he’s not the biggest fan of them either.
I’m not even sure what it is I don’t like. I’ve ridden several in my life and have fond associations of those times. I’m not really a big risk-taker. And I definitely don’t like to be out of control. I suppose those qualities contribute to my anti-roller coaster nature.
Lately I’ve been having a bit of a roller coaster emotional life. One day the world’s as great as can be; the next day I can hardly muster the strength to get on with my day. Some days there are reasons for either or both of these feelings. It’s possible I’m mildly depressed. Having kids can do that to you, I’m told.
But I’m tired of this ride. I want off, in a sense. More than that, I want to enjoy it. I don’t want to fear the clack-clack-clack as the coaster cars climb the hill, uncertain of what’s around the bend. I want to stop gripping the bar that holds me in with white knuckles and have the freedom to throw up my hands and let out a scream of pure exhilaration. I want to look the coaster in the face, so to speak, and tell it I’m not afraid. That I will ride it again and again and again and not lose my lunch.
My recent emotional ride reminds me of a story I once heard. I’ve posted it below. I want off the ride that lets my circumstances determine whether my day is good or bad, whether what happens to me is good for me or bad for me. The Bible says that God works for good in the lives of those who love and trust Him. I want to believe that even the worst things that happen can be worked out for good, even if when they happen, all I can think is how bad they are.
Once there was a farmer who had one son and one horse. One day his horse ran away. When his neighbors heard about it, they came to comfort him.
“Such bad luck- we’re sorry your only horse ran away.” they said.
“Who is to say whether it’s good or bad, replied the farmer. All I can say for sure is, my horse has run away. Time will tell whether this is good or bad.”
His neighbors just shook their heads and walked away.
A week later, his horse returned home- along with 20 wild horses!!!
His neighbors, upon hearing the news, came to congratulate him.
“What good luck you have. Not only did your horse return, but he brought with him 20 more. Such a lucky man you are!”
“Who is to say whether it’s good or bad- All I know is my horse has come home along with 20 wild horses- and leave it at that.”
Again, his neighbors shook their heads and scoffed – “Of course it’s good luck you old fool! Twenty new horses is obviously good luck!”
The next week the farmer’s son was out riding in the pen with the new horses, fell off and broke his leg.
Upon hearing the news, the neighbors came over to comfort the farmer.
“You were right- Those wild horses were not a sign of good fortune- now your son has broken his leg- and right before the harvest. Such bad luck!”
Again the farmer replied- “Why do you constantly want to label something as good or bad. Why can’t you just say, ‘My son has broken his leg while riding a horse’ and leave it at that. Who is to say whether it is good or bad?”
Upon hearing this, the neighbors were indignant.
“Listen old man, to have your son break his leg at this time is unfortunate and a sign of bad luck. You are such a fool to think otherwise.”
The following week, an army came to town and drafted all the eligible young men, and sent them off to war in a far away place. They did not take the farmer’s son on account of his broken leg. Afterwards, the people were heartbroken and came to the farmer in tears.
“You were right. Our sons are gone, we’ll probably never see them again. Such bad luck our town has experienced!”
The old farmer (again) said “Why do you continue to insist an event is good or bad? We do not know the end from the beginning. Why can’t you just say, Our sons have been drafted, and only time will tell if it is good or not.”