(3 1/2 minute read)
“Mommy, I’m gonna learn to climb the monkey bars today. Don’t touch me and stay away. I can do it.” Words spoken in the cutest voice by my sweet daughter Julia when she was four years old. If you know my Jules’ strong willed personality, you’d do exactly what I did: I listened to her and stayed the heck away…of course close enough because, after all, she was only a petite little thing. But I remember watching that determination and confidence and most of all the thrill she had in doing something that she knew was simply amazing. She didn’t hesitate, she didn’t falter, she just went for it. Blonde curls bouncing, lavender glasses sliding off her nose, and tiny little hands gripping with such a sense of willpower. She was awesome. Right there in our backyard, she did something that, in my opinion, she couldn’t or shouldn’t be able to do. She owned those monkey bars that day. She conquered them and she just kind of shrugged her shoulders – with a beaming smile – as if to say, “I knew I could do it, buuuuut, wasn’t I incredible?!?!”
So many lessons crammed into that one moment….How can it be that so many of us grow up and forget to be brave? To just go for it. Don’t question the “what ifs” and “how tos”, just simply wrap hands around, hold on tight, and swing out. Would many of us adults even dare to cross those monkey bars in our lives without first evaluating how high we are, how many we need to cross, is there someone there to catch us, and my goodness, are there spider WEBS?!? We need to see life through Julia’s four year old eyes staring up at those tall, towering, but WAY-super-fun-monkey-bars-she-sees-her-big-sisters-crossing-every-day.
What if we were brave for our family? What if we could live our fearless life as examples for our children? We might interview for the job we really want, but are too afraid we’re not good enough for. We might say “I’m sorry” when we don’t want to admit we’re wrong. We might start that business that we think will fail. We might actually speak up for something we believe in even when no one else does. Maybe we’ll take the music lesson we thought we were too old for. Maybe we’ll go on that roller coaster just to make our child smile (after taking Dramamine and making sure we have an empty stomach, of course.) Maybe we’ll run that race we know will take a lot of training and commitment. Maybe we’ll just sit down and talk to our child about a hard conversation we’ve been putting off.
Julia will surely grow up, as all children do. The thought of her losing her innocence and confidence in the unknown makes me sad thinking that one day she might hesitate when she encounters a new set of monkey bars in her life. Could her dad and I work really hard to keep that spirit alive in her and her sisters and brother? It will and does take a little extra work on our part and forces us to be more conscious of our actions, decisions, and examples in our household, but I do think it is possible. Train yourself to be brave in a new situation in front of your children. And if you aren’t, at least be honest and it will surely lead to a valuable conversation and lesson for your family. There is a song called Fearless by Jasmine Murray that I always say is Julia’s “song” – and of course, she smiles her sweet, proud, ‘of-course-it’s-my-song-mommy’ smile every time I tell her. It says:
I wanna be fearless
No holding back no backing down
Because I believe you're with me now
Bring on the unknown
Lead me and I'll go
Come set me free
God, I want to be
Let’s build families that are fearless for each other, fearless for the unknown, and trust God all the way. Be brave and conquer those monkey bars. And yes, Jules, you were –and are – pretty incredible.