I have a riddle for you. Two guys and a girl are walking down the street. One has a golf club, one has a shovel, and one has a flashlight. What are they doing? If you can answer correctly, you’ll win a million dollars in Monopoly money. I’ll have it wired to your bank account, pronto.
That riddle is one many of my neighbors asked just a few nights ago as Rick, Foster and I traipsed down our country road. I had the flashlight. Foster had the golf club. Rick had the shovel.
The reason? Foster was pretty sure he’d run over a rattlesnake in the road, and he wanted the skin. For two hours after we pulled into our garage, he begged to go find the smushed serpant on the street, and for two hours I refused to let him go alone. What if the snake wasn’t dead? What if he’d slithered into the grass and was waiting, angry, ready to strike? And, well, you don’t think I was gonna go with him, do you?
So I decided to wait until Rick got home. It’s called deferred parenting. I’m a big proponent, in cases like this. When my husband arrived from work, he was bombarded with Can-we-go-can-we-go-can-we-please-go? Since Rick (and most husbands) are just overgrown teenagers, he thought that was a great idea. This is where the props came in.
“You get a golf club, and I’ll get a shovel,” Rick told Foster, as if those were the most logical tools one could carry when going on a snake hunt. I stood there, slack-jawed, ready to say goodbye to at least one of them forever because in my heart, I knew this would not end well.
That’s when my dear husband looked at me. “And you carry the flashlight.”
“What? I’m not going!”
“Yes you are. Come on! It’ll be fun.”
When will I ever, ever learn to never, never listen to a man who says, “It’ll be fun”? Especially where snakes are involved.
Somehow I ended up with a flashlight in my hand, walking alongside a couple of armed and dangerous men, headed toward an armless, even more dangerous snake. Down the street we went, waving at neighbors as they drove past, wondering how we’d explain this to the police when they came, because if we didn’t look suspicious, I don’t know who does.
We stopped at the spot of the hit-and-run. Nothing. The boys started beating their golf club and shovel around in the grass while I stood in the middle of the road, shining the flashlight, praying and trying not to hyperventilate, and wishing I’d worn my boots instead of my sneakers. I figured the middle of the road was as far as I could get from whichever side that snake had slithered.
I also had a feeling that when the snake was found, he was coming after me. And that was okay. I’m willing to sacrifice myself for the men I love.
Oh, who am I kidding? If I so much as heard a hiss or a rattle, I’d have been out of there faster than a jackrabbit on a sugar beet high. They could fend for themselves.
When they were finally convinced there was no snake to find, we laughed and headed back to the house. The moral of the story? Don’t count your snakes before they die.
Despite the fact that my menfolk came home empty-handed from our journey (thank you Jesus!), we had fun. We laughed a lot. We acted goofy. We enjoyed each other’s company, and isn’t that what life is really about? The real reward isn’t in the trophies . . . it’s in the memories formed and the relationships built. It’s in the journey, even if that journey involves slithery, scaly serpents.
Too often, fear makes me stay home when I could be joining the fun. Too often, I live vicariously through others’ stories instead of making my own. I’m glad Rick forced that flashlight into my hand. I’m not sure I’d feel the same if they’d actually caught the slithery sucker, but I’d sure have a story to tell! From now on, I’ll make an effort to engage more, even when I’m out of my comfort zone. I’ll be present in the moment, loving my tribe, even if it requires being the flashlight girl on a snake hunt. Who knows? I might even end up with a pair of snakeskin boots one of these days.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends,” John 15:13.