August 27, 2010

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

The balance beam dilemma and how God provides

Debra TomaselliParents, let your children make decisions. Sometimes, even when it doesn’t appear to be that way, you’ll be allowing God to work through them.

Like the time our teenage daughter, Sara, a former competitive gymnast, agreed to give away the dusty balance beam occupying space in our garage.

She wanted it to go to a good home—a girl who loved gymnastics like she once did. Callers flooded our answering machine as soon as I ran the advertisement for the free beam.

I returned the first call and advised the people they could have it. In the conversation, however, I discovered they wanted it for their karate school.

Sara was disappointed. “It needs to go a gymnast,” she said. I agreed, but I had already promised it to the school.

However, the beam sat in our garage for weeks as the karate school owner searched for a truck to pick it up. In the meantime, our voice mail recorded countless calls. One in particular stayed with me.

“This is Stacy. My son had a stroke as an infant, and now he needs to work on his balance. Your balance beam could change his life so, if you haven’t given it away yet, we would love to have it.”

Even though it was promised to the karate school, I kept Stacy’s name and number. Sara still insisted we find a young gymnast for the beam.

Then one night when I arrived home, Sara greeted me at the door. “Mommy, a girl named Lacy called about the beam. She’s 11 years old and in gymnastics! I spoke with her dad, too! This is really important to them! I want to give it to her,” she pleaded.

We talked. The karate school decided they didn’t want the beam. Sara knew that I wanted to help the woman with the toddler experiencing balance problems.

Although she felt compassion for him, Sara understood the thrill of back walkovers, handsprings and jumps on the beam. She recognized those needs in a way that I never will.

Tears filled her eyes as I left the final decision to her. Finally, Sara said, “Let’s call the girl’s dad back.”

We did, and they happily made arrangements to pick up the beam the next day.

During our conversation, however, the father mentioned that they, too, had a balance beam. It was too low to the ground and too short to accomplish complex gymnastics moves. They now planned to give it away.

I told them about Stacy, the mother of the boy who had the stroke, and put them in touch with each other.

About an hour later, Stacy called. “Thank you so much for remembering us,” she said. “You didn’t even know us, and I can’t believe you kept our name and number! This lower beam will be better than yours would have been for my son. Look at how God provides. Thank you!”

Look at how God provides. I feared I wasn’t teaching my daughter compassion in allowing her to choose who to give the beam.

Instead, we both learned something about the awesome Providence of God.

(Debra Tomaselli lives in Altamonte Springs, Fla. Her column appears in several diocesan newspapers. Her e-mail address is

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