It happens to be Friday as I write this. It's also "Homecoming" weekend and there's hustle and bustle on campus as preparations for Alumni and all the weekend activities fill this beautiful fall day. You can sense the excitement in the air. I admit. I'm a little "wired." It may have been the rather large <ahem> Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte I consumed. (I'd like to also note that E had his first taste of PSL and, well, as one friend said, "Train up a child in the way he should go..." :) He definitely enjoyed it!)
We even had a balloon artist and clown "pop" into the office. He handed out 9" deflated balloons and challenged us to blow them up. Simple, right? Wrong. The guys were making their best efforts and huffing and puffing. Being slightly competitive and feeling accomplished in my breathing techniques as a trained vocalist, I thought for sure I'd show them up. I asked for a balloon.
I huffed, and I puffed (no, I didn't blow the house down...) and nor did I blow the balloon up. I tried. And tried. And tried. Mustering up every last bit of breath support, digging deep from my diaphragm, all I could manage to do was make the flat balloon slightly full with a puff of air but it was nowhere near inflated.
Our trainer, the clown, said we had to forget everything we ever knew or experienced about blowing up a balloon. Any preconceived idea about how to blow up a balloon wasn't going to help us accomplish this task.
I kid you not when I tell you that with each failed attempt, I grew more and more light-headed. At the risk of passing out, I finally gave up, resolving that despite all the "hot air" I've been accused of having, I just couldn't do this.
There is a deflated 9" balloon on my desk. I could look at this reminder of my failed attempts and be discouraged in my inabilities. But - you know me, the eternal optimist - I'm going to hope it serves as a different kind of memory.
Without so much as popping a vein or contorting his face, he inflated his balloon to the perfect capacity and then fashioned it into a cute little balloon creature. You see, the clown has perfected his art and skill. He let me try knowing I'd fail. I've been conditioned, falling prey to the belief that this balloon would be like every other balloon I've successfully inflated. How do you "forget" old habits? How do you "untrain" what you've always done? How do you "change" what you know?
The clown assured me that with just the air in his mouth he would blow up the balloon. He took the 9" of rubber and stretched it; pulling and tugging and increasing its size. And then he pinched near the top, about 2", and said just to focus on blowing up that one section. Bit by bit he blew up his balloon.
I know you might still believe I am, in fact, full of hot air but there is a lesson here. I'm not going to let my deflated balloon deflate my spirit. I can't, but God can. There is a Person who has perfected His skill. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly all that I ask or think or attempt to do on my own. I'm thankful for the reminder that sometimes in my own strength I come up with nothing but a bunch of worthless hot air!