We took a little getaway recently, just me, my husband and our 28 year old son who has intellectual disabilities. We had planned some fun activities, but from the moment Ben spotted the kiddie pool, it was all he could think about. “Wog” he said, making the sign for “frog” under his chin, “Me!” And so one day, after we finished miniature golfing and eating at a restaurant with a giant moose (where he insisted I take a picture of its backside to send to his brother), we finally made it to the kiddie pool where the frog perched, tongue lolling out for a slide.
Ben flexed his muscles and double-checked the tie on his swim trunks before climbing carefully up the few steps and sliding the six feet down into the shallow water. Then he roared and smacked the water like a pro wrestler, and a few small children watched in awe while their mothers carefully pretended not to notice, and I made note that it was way past time to give him a shave.
I have spent a lot of Ben’s life being embarrassed by his antics and trying to minimize his odd behaviors. It’s true that some people are put off by his behaviors, but most people are kind, and a large number actually find him delightful.
So after 28 years, I have decided to loosen the reins a bit and allow him to be his own quirky, uniquely-designed self. And in letting go of some of that control, I realize that I need to offer that same grace to myself.
Ben has taught me a lot about embracing life just the way it is. Ben’s example of uninhibited living is teaching me to take my own risks. I kept this blog a secret for three years before making it public. Why? The fear of being thought of as too intense, too religious, too serious and just…too much, I guess. And then last winter, someone gently encouraged me to conquer my frog.
Ben fell asleep early that night, unaware of riots and pandemics and global warming, simply happy that he had conquered the frog. And I, the one who bears the responsibilities of keeping him safe and fed and shaved, thought about how God also carries my burdens while encouraging me to step out and share my heart and life here on the page.
Ben and I were both created to find our own place in the world, each in our own unique way designed to display God’s glory. So are you.
I wonder how many of us have frogs to conquer, but are held back by fear. Maybe we are afraid of disdain, or failure, or we are trapped in the web of not measuring up. Perhaps we don’t want the attention or to be in the spotlight. All of these things have held me back – and still hold sway over my soul too often.
Maybe we think we need to conquer the high dive, when all God asks is our obedience to conquer the frog.
I ask you: Is there a frog that you need to conquer? Are you standing on the edge of the pool, paralyzed by the cost of vulnerability or the fear of failure? Are you discouraged because your small efforts can’t measure up to those of the beautiful people doing flips off of the high dive?
Let me extend to you the same encouragement my friend gave me: Conquer the frog. Do the thing you know you’re called to, that one next step you’ve been putting off. Name your dream, and share it with one good friend.
You and I, we don’t need to start a movement or become famous on Instagram. We just need to conquer our frogs. There may be deeper water and diving boards in our future, but right now the frog is waiting. Go ahead – I’m rooting for you.