Blood, sweat and bouncy castles

It’s Sunday afternoon and I appear to be stuck immovably to my sofa, nursing a large mug of tea. Every bit of me hurts and it’s all self-inflicted.

Yesterday, some friends and I did a 5k obstacle/assault challenge which involved jogging through wet fields, down muddy tracks, running over, under and around obstacles, being chased by sheep, sliding down water chutes, and wobbling over balance beams. We were soaked through, smeared with hay, mud and sheep poo…I was (genuinely!) having the most fun I’d had in ages!

….Until we got to the bouncy castle at the end.

No big deal, thought I, throwing myself at it. I pushed through the inflatable rollers, wriggled around bouncy bollards…and then just as I (foolishly) believed the end was in sight, I got to the exit.

Looming ahead was a 6ft bouncy wall, covered in mud and water. There was no physical way to actually heave myself over it independently and the others in front were being pulled by two men at the top…and shoved below on the bum by their girlfriends.

Above me I could see bums sticking in the air and a whole lot of sweaty-faced girls, screaming, slipping and looking horribly undignified. Add into the mix my rather short legs and inability to take great leaps, well, this just seemed like an indignity too great to bear.

I cannot do this, said inner Paula, but I knew I didn’t have much choice. My friend Shazzer was beside me and so I threw myself with abandon at the slippy wall of death, as she grabbed my feet and gave me a good shove. But my filthy, soggy shoes had no grip and 2 attempts later, I was face to face with the floor, smeared in mud and shame.

By this point, there is a queue building behind me, the pressure is rising, I make a third attempt (with Shazzer’s help) and again land in a heap…right beside a mass of other girls, all facing the same predicament.

And then I hear someone yelling, ‘Come ON Girls….you CAN DO IT’. It’s my friend Sian, on the other side (other side of the bouncy castle…not the afterlife, just to clarify…I wasn’t at the point of seeing bright lights and hearing dead relatives beckon).

I could hear the encouragement but I still felt defeated…and then I saw to the right, a groove in the side of the bouncy wall….somewhere to dig my foot in and get a foothold. I knew it….I COULD do it. This would NOT defeat me!

In one clear shot, I was up, within arm reach of the two (rather hunky) men, up, over and OUT. Red-faced, dirtier than I’d ever been…but who cared….freedom is indeed a beautiful thing.

1 minute later, I was over the finish line and there was Sian waving me on. ‘I could see you were struggling to get over….so I prayed for you’ she said.
Thank God for praying friends, eh?

The point to all this? Sometimes we’re blinded by the wall in front of us; the fear, the insecurity, the sense that there’s no exit. And sometimes it’s just a kind word or a praying friend which helps you to see the real truth; HEY, hold on, there IS a way out of this. You CAN finish, you CAN make it through.

No matter what the ‘wall’ is, whether it’s a bouncy one or something much more catastrophic, there’s always a way through.

Hang in there.

Hebrews 12