For those readers who are not from Tuscaloosa, Al., Tuscaloosa is home to the tallest slide in the southeast. In fact, according to KOMPAN, the company that constructed the slide, it is the tallest space-net and slide combination in the USA. One of our parks, Snow Hinton Park, houses this 38-foot tube slide. The only way to reach the top of the slide is to climb a pyramid-like, web-based design made of coated steel cable called space- net. My children simply ask, “Can we go to the park and climb the spider web?” This web and slide has brought more life to that park and our city as people from near and far travel to enjoy the climb and the ride down. It is the only park attraction that I have noticed to draw major activity from such a wide range of people groups. Parents climb it with their children. A wide range of people from different cultural backgrounds regularly assemble to climb the web. In warmer months, especially on the weekends, it is difficult to climb due to the congestion of people.
This past weekend, my family decided to spend some time at Snow Hinton Park and climb the spider web. Our 5 year old daughter was anxious to show my wife’s mother, brother, and sister that she could do it. You see, there are spots during the climb where the ropes are far apart and it makes for a more difficult climb, especially for a 5 year old. My wife had already gone up the web with her before. She coached her every step of the way. This time, my wife wasn’t there and I had to coach her. As we approached the web, we saw parents carrying their little ones up the ropes. I looked over and said, “Just let me carry you too!” My daughter refused to let me carry her. “I got this” she exclaimed. “Just help me if I get stuck.” So, we began the climb together. There were only two times that she needed my assistance. When we reached the top, the pull up to the bridge leading to the slide was too much of a stretch for her. I went up first and then reached down to pull her up. She made it! Her courage taught me that difficult doesn’t mean impossible. I learned:
People Are Often Ready Long Before They are Released
She knew she was ready even though we were apprehensive about releasing her. Even if she wasn’t ready to succeed, she was definitely ready to try. Just like my 5 year old, don’t let anybody take the “try” out of you. If you’re ever going to succeed, you have to be courageous enough to at least try. Even if you don’t succeed, you’ve learned what not to do. That lesson brings you one step closer to success.
My brother-in-law saw us climbing and shouted out, “That looks like so much fun.” I replied, “It is! You should try it. I think you can do it!” That was a daunting task to consider. Years ago, he played football and injured himself. As a result of his injury, he has a steel rod in one of his thighs. He told me that the rod limited his ability to do certain things. He ended up believing that there were certain things he would never do again. This belief caused this otherwise active young man to live an inactive life. Over time, the inactivity caused him to gain more and more weight. Now, not only does he have the steel rod, but he has so much more extra weight that things like climbing the spider web are out of the question. Saturday, that changed. As my daughter and I made it down the slide, we saw my brother-in-law climbing his 6’2, 300+ lb. frame up the web. Although he had to pause to catch his breath a few times, he never gave up. By the time he reached the top of the web, my mother-in-love, daughters, total strangers, and I cheered him on. “You can make! Push!” we yelled. He had to improvise, lie on his stomach, and use his feet to push himself all the way up there. After several minutes of struggling, he was in there. People in the park began to clap and cheer. My brother slid down the slide and walked back to us as he was breathing extremely hard and sweating profusely. Then, the unthinkable happened. 25 minutes later, he looked at me and said, “Come on brother-in-law. I’m about to climb it again. Climb with me!” He said that my vote of confidence in him coupled with watching my 5 year old climb gave him the courage to try. After doing it once, he felt so accomplished that he wanted to do it again. This time, we went up much faster than before. He pushed himself up faster and we slid down the slide in excitement. He taught me:
Our Greatest Limit is Our Own Thinking
What else had he missed out on because he convinced himself that he couldn’t do it? Once an “I can” entered his mind, he did…twice! What are you desiring to experience in life that you have convinced yourself will never happen? Get rid of the stinking thinking called “I can’t” and develop an “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” mentality.
Romel Gibson is a youth and college pastor, mentor, community leader, motivational speaker, musician, and songwriter living in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He serves as a full- time Campus Life Director with Youth for Christ, one of the largest non-profit youth evangelism ministries in the world. As a songwriter, his most notable works include L. Spenser Smith and Testament (Greater, Surgery), Tonya Baker (Miracles), The Anointed Pace Sisters (Praise and Worship), Myron Butler (Changed), Marvin Sapp (Never), Ruben Studdard (Holding On To You Lord), and Johnny Gill (Black Box).Romel has been married for 11 years to his college best friend Quanedra. Together they have been blessed with three beautiful daughters; Allayna Pilar, Moriah Kelis, and Rylee Addison.