Bounce houses — they have always made me nervous. There is just something about trying to keep your wits while everyone around you flounders like blurred fish in a crowded tank. Not to mention, people are required to take off their shoes. There is no sure footing, just the sureness that you might be trampled by strangers of whom you know nothing about except they are stuck in this “house” with you.

So, when I was asked to volunteer at the bounce house during a recent seasonal festival, my insides … bounced. I didn’t want the responsibility of praying that no one would get hurt while everyone was busy losing control.

Then it happened. I saw a young boy sitting on the ground with his father. The boy was screaming, so I quickly made my way nearer to him to make sure he wasn’t hurt. That is when I heard what I could have lived my entire life not hearing.

“I promise! Please don’t put my shoes on! I promise!” The young boy’s hands were reaching up to his father while the man began roughly putting on his son’s shoes. The boy’s chin quivered as his shoulders shook, the father not even glancing at his son.

The dad snapped, “I told you, no crying! Stop it!”

“I promise! I promise! I won’t cry again. Please let me go back in. I won’t cry if someone pushes me down again! I promise!” The boy was now crying all over again.

The father yanked his son up to his feet and started pulling him off the mat by his T-shirt. “No crying! I said no crying! You did this to yourself! You only have yourself to blame!”

My heart sank. I have an aversion to bounce houses — even more so now.

I thought about this boy and his father for the remainder of my shift. I couldn’t help but think of how this vast and showy bounce house allures people. They want to be a part of something thrilling — and they get in this house with others who want to be in control while also losing control. All wear smiles until someone gets knocked down. Someone gets the breath taken out of him. Someone gets hurt.

This has been or is all of us. We often set our shoes outside and enter with both feet into a world with a very soft foundation. All is well, for a time. But then our thoughts get distracted by the pulls of the instability and the sounds of happiness that we try to match with our performance. We become so busy keeping up that we hardly notice when we get knocked down. We find ourselves remaining in a pattern of disappointment, relying on others to keep us balanced.

And then it happens. Whatever or whoever it is knocks us down to the point of taking our breath away. It could be something small, but it triggers us when we are already exhausted. We attempt to take ourselves out of this pattern of discontentment, only to find ourselves received negatively by people with whom we crave approval. Instead of being welcomed and cared for, we are belittled and ostracized.

Perhaps, when we finally put our shoes back on do we stand tall and realize that we were never created to thrive on shifting floors. We were not formed to become part of the rhythm of this world. So, of course, life in the bounce house eventually disappoints us! Of course, we can be misunderstood … even, at times, by those we love.

“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.” (John 15:19).

The more you try to please the world, the more you will begin to mimic the pulse of worldviews, cynicism and indifference. You will become tempted to embrace what Satan holds in front of you to keep you balanced. However, the more you rely on the “One who is in you that is greater than the world “ (1 John 4:4), you will “be transformed by the renewing your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). You won’t need the world to keep you balanced — you will just need Jesus to keep you grounded in faith, hope, and love. You will become someone who reflects God’s character … someone who lives as God’s beloved child (Ephesians 5:1), rather than a constant reactor to what is temporary.

Get out of the bounce house of life. Your identity is not found there. Put on your sandals of peace and follow Christ Jesus.

SGLY, dear readers.

(Smile, God Loves You.)

Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. You can find her newly released books, “H.E.R.O. Faith” and “Bad Disciples” on Amazon. To submit feedback on SGLY, please contact religion@heralddemocrat. com.