We went to a playground today. After probably 18 months of no playground time (between COVID and OH winter before that), it felt unfamiliar to us both.
T stood slightly overwhelmed by the sounds and sights and people. I stood very aware that I was the only mom awkwardly placed between young 20 somethings (wearing sundresses and earrings - what is this?) with 1.5 sweetly dressed children and grandmas taking their adorable grandbabies out for a day in the sun. And then there was 40yo me, me with my homeschooled older kids that young moms seem afraid of, and my beautiful brown girl. I felt the silent observations as the gate clicked closed behind us.
Here’s the thing - I’ve seen it in my own life and in friends and online and in years of women’s ministry. Women don’t outgrow their insecurities with age. It’s amazing how those old middle school wounds show up out of the blue. Wham! Suddenly I’m the kid who doesn’t know where to sit at lunch.
Here’s the other thing - insecurity comes from within. Oh sure, it’s affected by real people and real comments over the years. But on that playground, those things I was feeling- they were mine, not theirs. Insecurity becomes a prison, holding me back from reaching out, striking up a conversation, making eye contact.
Were people judging my jeans, wet from where half my water bottle spilled down them as I fought a losing battle with a bib and tablecloth in the wind? Perhaps. Were they trying to figure out our family’s racial profile and what is going on with my tribe? Probably.
But if I’m so filled up with Jesus, so secure in the value He has assigned to me, so confident in His love for me, so captivated by His love for those around me, it frees me from those old wounds of decades gone by and allows me to see -really see, not just her-jeans-are-all-wet see- others. The lonely ones. The overwhelmed ones. The trying-to-look-put-together ones.
Our first playground visit wasn’t a grand success. T was awkward and nervous and afraid of everything new. I wasn’t probably that far behind her. But as I reflect back on the people I saw there, I’m wondering if I really saw them.
We will be back, though. Jesus, make us brave.