I was thinking about balloons the other day. Yes, balloons. Balloons are interesting little things. Have you ever played with balloons with differing amounts of air in them? Or maybe you have, as most kids have, played the game where you couldn’t let the balloon hit the ground, but you couldn’t hold them either. You just had to keep bouncing it up to the next person. Well, this is what I was thinking about, and I found a neat parallel between this childhood game and people— people who are hurting. For those of you who have played the game I described, you might have (or maybe might not have) noticed that the more air the balloons had, the easier keeping them up was. In other words, the more air they had, the less effort you had to put forth to keep them floating and keep them from hitting the ground. The balloons that didn’t have much air in them at all were the ones that required the most effort and also these balloons were a little more unpredictable in the direction they would move when you bounced them up, especially if they were lopsided and not completely round. And it took everybody that was on one balloon to really work together to keep the balloon afloat. If people weren’t at least somewhat paying attention, the balloon would likely hit the ground. And also, if one person tried to bounce the balloon all on his own, he wouldn’t be able to pay attention to where he was going and could run into a tree or something. Then the balloon would fall.
Imagine that the balloons with the most air in them are the people in this world who don’t really have any immediate needs, whether it be emotional, spiritual, or physical. Yeah, they need some type of support system, but not too much. Just enough to keep them afloat. And honestly, just as with the balloons, if the person doesn’t have any pressing or immediate needs, he could get away with just having one person as his “support.” That support could still carry on without interrupting his own life too much. However, if that support, whether it be a person or a group of people, stopped being intentional and stopped supporting the balloon, even if it was minimally, then the balloon would float down until eventually it would hit the ground. It would be a steady downfall, but a downfall nonetheless. Then there are the balloons that don’t have much air in them at all. Maybe even deflated completely. These are the people that are in a crisis. These are the people that, if you aren’t supporting them, or not giving them much attention, they’re bound to hit the floor—rock bottom. These people require the intentionality of the people around them more than others might. Now, just as in the game, you should not hold people completely, and oftentimes, you cannot hold people completely. People need the opportunity to grow on their own while being supported, so to hold them completely would be doing them a disservice. And also, these are the people who need a group of people supporting them. If one person tried to do it on his own, he would have to spend so much of his own attention and energy on keeping that person “afloat” that he wouldn’t be able to focus on his own life and may end up running into a tree, causing the other person to hit the ground anyway.
I think we’re all somewhere on this continuum. The challenge is knowing where on this continuum we fall, and also, knowing where the people around us are on this continuum. Now, I haven’t thought this completely through, so there are likely to be logical fallacies, but regardless, I think some of this does hold some truth. And I just like the idea of balloons.