She calls out impatiently, “Push me mummy, push me”.
Her mum is weary and pleads with her daughter, “Surely you can swing yourself. I know you can do it!”
The girl in the swing starts to whinge and cries out, “No, no, I can’t do it mummy. I need you to push me. I can’t, I can’t.”
Her mum replies patiently, “You can do it, you can. You know how. Push your legs out and under, out and under, out and under.”
The girl scowls and grumps and protests – but she does it. She moves her legs out and under, out and under.
She has a go.
And then that little scowl turns into a hint of a smile as she realises the swing is moving and she CAN do it. She can do it. She really can do it.
The swing goes higher and higher and a big grin breaks out on her face – a grin that says, “I did it mum! I did it! I made this happen all by myself. Little by little, bit by bit I made it happen. I pushed out and under, out and under and it worked.”
But then that little girls starts to falter, she starts to worry, the anxiety creeps in. She calls out, “But mummy the swing is going to get crooked, it’s not going to stay straight and I’m not going to be able to stop it.”
Sure enough the wobbles start and she gets discouraged. “I’ll have to start again” she moans.
Yes she has to start over, but not completely. Not right from scratch. Because she already knows that it can work. She’s already proven to herself that it can be done. She’s already a little further along the journey. Now she just has to believe that she can do it again.
Little by little.
Legs out, legs under, legs out, legs under. Each little effort makes a difference. Each little effort swings you higher. Each little swing builds momentum. Each swing of the legs, each step on the road, each word said in love, each day you awake, each hug you receive. Each little bit makes a difference.
Even so, the big picture sometimes overwhelms us and we aren’t really sure how we will move ahead or how we will make it happen. Sometimes the pain feels too great, the hurt too deep, the discouragement too intense, the questions too many or the weariness too profound. Or perhaps the goal feels too big, the height too high, the expectation too much, the destination too far – and we feel we cannot even begin.
Perhaps that’s the time we need the gentle, loving push. The push of encouragement – the holding of another’s hand or perhaps the praying alongside a friend. The encouragement that gets us going, reassures us we are not alone and helps us see that we can. We can do it.
Little by little.
How quickly we forget all the small things that have got us this far. How quickly we forget the progress and the victories in the face of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Sometimes we need to be quiet and take stock. We need to think with gratitude about what we already have, of all that we have achieved and of those who have encouraged and loved us no matter what.
Cherish each little step.
Look back and see how far you’ve come.
Examine the little victories, the little gifts, the lessons learnt and the little glimmers of hope. Each one has taken you a little further on the journey.
Then think of that little girl and that little swing and the legs moving out, legs moving under, legs out, legs under. One moment at a time.
Little by little allow the smile to twitch at the edges of your mouth and know you can do it.
Little bit by little bit.