My family and I visited an indoor water park for spring break this year. It turned out to be a momentous experience for us. We conquered fears—Lucy: hydrotachophobia (fear of water at an amusement park…I just made that up) and Me: leukodermatophobia (fear of wearing a bathing suit in the middle of March in front of hundreds of strangers…also made up).
We rode enough water slides to give us wedgies for a year. We ate at our kids’ favorite kind of restaurant—the all-you-can-eat buffet. Brent and I hit a parenting milestone in that we felt comfortable having our kids look out for each other at a public place where there’s a risk of drowning. (I should say that there are TONS of lifeguards.) Another thing that made it an important trip was because I made a realization about myself and about God.
It’s so tempting to look at the wide variety of people who come to places like amusement parks and question their choices. Whether it’s parenting techniques or bathing suit designs, you sometimes have to scratch your head and wonder. (Side note: I am never comfortable wearing a bathing suit, and I wear the belly-covering and skirted mom-suit, a.k.a. the Tankini. If you take a step back and think about it—maybe from the perspective of the family we saw that dressed their daughters in the modesty swimwear worn by TLC’s Duggar family or the Muslim women who rode the tide in the wave pool in their heavy, black hijabs—we’re really standing in lines, carrying cumbersome inner tubes, and plunging down dark, slippery tunnels in our underwear.)
It’s also hard to miss the tattoos. I started feeling like I’m the only person age 18-45 without one. I saw a dad with his daughter’s baby footprint, name, weight, length and birth date tattooed across his back. There was a guy with the Chanel logo on his elbow. (ouch) We saw a twenty-something guy with the word LEPRECHAUN inked across his chest in tight, bold letters. In fact, it seems like font style is a big deal for the tattooee. One man had a really pretty script on his arm that said: “For all your advice I am forever grateful. I will never be able to repay you.” I’m not joking. That would be a little wordy on a greeting card, buddy, so how about written with a NEEDLE ON YOUR SKIN?! In some cases, I wouldn’t be surprised if people look to bumper stickers for inspiration at the tattoo parlor. I found myself searching for “Honk if you like ice cream” in a fancy Old English font. It’s just a matter of time.
I have to confess when I see these people I want to judge. I want to shake my head, tsk, tsk-ing their clothes and behavior and general demeanor. I hate this compulsion I have. What a jerk! Because…light bulb…Jesus died for each and every one of them. It’s so Sunday school basic but it’s something I have to remind myself of everyday. No matter if they live in a mansion or a trailer, have straight white teeth or a mouth full of gold caps, wear a Miller Time t-shirt or shop at Talbots—they’re wanted and loved and important to Christ.
If I can learn to love my fellow man—tattoos, obnoxious behavior and all—standing in a line in my (gulp) underwear at a water park, I step a little closer into the light of my Savior. Maybe I conquered another fear last week: Jerkanthropophobia. (Fear of being a jerk to people) Well, I suppose I may not have conquered it yet but admitting I have a problem is the first step.