By Ashley Pooser
One of the benefits of homeschooling my kids is that once I’ve recognized my sanity is at the breaking point, I can spontaneously declare a field trip day. On one such day, when nothing seemed to be going well, we ended up at the zoo for the afternoon. It seemed all the baby animals were also over it and the mamas were reaching their own breaking points.
When we came to the gorilla enclosure, we were treated to a show. Two juveniles were having the time of their lives. They wrestled, threw dirt at each other, and chased each other in circles around their mama. My kids loved this big game of mischief and could not be happier watching those two get into trouble.
After a few warnings, mama gorilla had finally had enough of their antics. (Solidarity, mama.) The big silverback jumped up from where she had been trying to get some peace and quiet and lunged after her rowdy kids. Everyone thought it was hilarious—except my two-year-old.
All Abby could see was this angry gorilla charging full speed right toward us. Terrified, she pointed and screamed, “IS COMIN’!” She called out for her daddy and instinctively reached for his hands, practically climbing up his legs, trying to get to the security of his arms.
Once my husband lifted her up, she calmed. She knew she could trust him to keep her safe. My husband took a minute to point out what she hadn’t been able to see from her toddler height—the giant moat separating us from the fed-up mama gorilla.
On the way home from the zoo, I was thinking about Abby and the gorillas and how often we find ourselves in similar situations. We can be going through life, happily minding our own business in the day-to-day, when we suddenly see something scary headed right for us.
Recently I faced down my own gorilla. My doctor discovered a lump and I had a few long weeks of tests and scans and so much waiting. I was able to be strong and keep it together until the day of my follow-up appointment. I hugged my kids good-bye like I’ve done a thousand times, climbed behind the wheel of our old minivan, and immediately burst into tears. I sat there in the driveway and cried my eyes out. I just kept thinking that those casual see-you-later hugs might have been our last normal moments. Everything might be different when I returned home.
Thankfully, I was given a clean bill of health. But before I got my answers, Jesus met me there in the driveway. He reminded me of that day at the zoo and Abby’s reaction. I knew I had to cling to him, because no matter what came, I could rest in his arms.
Life is full of surprises. We are guaranteed at some point in our lives to face off with a charging gorilla or two. Maybe it’s a job loss. Maybe it’s a health scare. Maybe a relationship is collapsing faster than it can be repaired.
It’s easy to feel terror in those moments. In our panic, we don’t see anything but the enormous, scary beast barreling down on us.
How good it is that we can call on our Father when we’re facing a problem that feels too big. We can instinctively reach for his hands and cling to him. He can change our perspective, allowing us to see more of the big picture. We can rest in the security of his arms, knowing we can trust him.
Ashley Doyle Pooser is a wife and a mom of three. She recently moved to Atlanta, where she’s trying her best to be a responsible adult but feels like she’s mostly flying by the seat of her pants. She blogs at ashleydoylepooser.com.
Photograph © Kelly Sikkema, used with permission