Life Is Like a Teeter Totter

Tuesday, July 16 2019


It was always one of my favourite things to do at the playground in the park. I loved to play on the teeter totter.



Do you remember the teeter totter? I think others call it a seesaw. I’m talking about that piece of playground equipment made up of a long narrow board balancing on a fulcrum or a single pivot point, where children sit at either end and propel themselves up and down.


I liked it because, while I was on it, it meant I was accompanied and not playing alone. You can swing alone. You can go down a slide alone. But you cannot play on the teeter totter alone.


I liked it because of its regular rhythm of up-and-down, up-and-down, up-and-down – which somehow was always something methodical and reassuring to me.


I liked it because I love being up high, able to see over and beyond what can usually be seen at ground level.


But, there were two things about playing on a teeter totter that always had me slightly on edge while I was on it:


- the first was when my “dear and loving” playmate on the other end of the board would decide to break the regular pattern of up-and-down, would put all their weight on their downside, and would stay there – which would leave me way up in the air on the other side, hanging there crazily and hanging on fiercely, flailing madly and screaming like crazy to be let down!


- but even worse was when that same “dear and loving” playmate would reach their downside, and instead of pushing back up or at least staying put on the ground, would jump off the teeter totter altogether and run away – and I, high up in the air on the other side, would suddenly come plunging down to the ground, unable to stop or at least ease the fall – not only would the crash into the ground hurt my backside, but the jeering abandonment of my playmate would always hurt my self-esteem!


Now: isn’t life just like that?


Being accompanied, having a friend to do life with, even if they are at the other end of the teeter totter, and even if they are up when we are down or we are up when they are down… it just makes life so much more do-able. It just makes life so much more liveable when we are not all alone.


When life is a rhythm, a fairly regular up-and-down rhythm, when we can count on the steady and methodical routine of things – we feel secure and comforted.


Life has its ups and downs, for sure: our glorious mountain-top moments and experiences when we can see things from a higher and happier perspective – and then our valley-of-the-shadow times when we feel trapped in dark and narrow and sad places.


But in general, when we and our playmates play fair, and we respect the rules of the teeter totter ride – life is good, life is enjoyable, life is fun!


But life isn’t always fair, is it? And while we are here on earth, our enemy Satan is anything but fair. When we least expect him to, he hops onto the other side of the teeter totter of our life, and wreaks havoc! And then, again when we least expect him to, he jumps off again, and leaves us plunging to our destruction. Because he’s not about playing fair. He’s not about accompanying us, or providing us with steadiness, or granting us high moments of delight! No! He’s all about having us feel abandoned, and thrown into a whirlwind of chaos, and dragged through physical and emotional and spiritual pain!


But there is One – unlike Satan – who will always be there for us. He will never leave us, and He will never forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). Even though our parents were not always right there to prevent our crash to the ground when our playmate jumped off the teeter totter and ran and sent us plunging, in our life God will always be there. Always. “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will take me up.” (Psalm 27:10) Oh yes! Satan will often keep us dangling on high, while he mocks and scoffs – or he will suddenly jump off the ride and run away, thrilled at the prospect of watching us plunge to our seemingly sure death. But, “underneath are the everlasting arms” of God (Deuteronomy 33:27), and they will catch us before we smash into the ground. “For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91:11-12)


Our lives will always have their ups and downs. We will always have afflictions and tribulations to pull us down from our glorious mountain-top experiences. But as unsure and unsteady as our lives may be, God is the constant and solid rock beneath us. “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2) Even when it is our turn to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we need not fear evil, for we are not alone – our loving Shepherd walks with us, and His shepherd’s rod and staff protect and comfort us. (Psalm 23:4)


As I was thinking about how to end this reflection, I discovered another reflection online entitled “Riding The Teeter Totter of Life”, written by Shannon Leibold. She fittingly ends hers like this:


Three responses when the teeter totter of life lifts you up:

1) Praise Him.

2) Seek Him.

3) Be faithful.


Three responses when the teeter totter of life brings you crashing down:

1) Praise Him.

2) Seek Him.

3) Be faithful.


Yes! Exactly! Thank you, Shannon Leibold, for – for hearing from Him, and sharing His truths with us. In all the ups and downs of our lives, in all the changes that life brings our way, our response shouldn't change. Because Jesus doesn't change. Always, we should praise Him. Always, we should seek Him. Always, we should be faithful. 

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