“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave person is not the one who does not feel afraid, but the one who conquers that fear.”
Life can throw challenges our way that shake us to the core. Fear creeps in like a fire breathing dragon, spewing lies and clouding Truth. My little pixie faced a challenge a year ago that continually reminds us of the power of overcoming (and why I love youth sports so much) …
My girl stands alone at the corner of the blue gymnastics floor. Her toes curl against the springy surface promising to launch her high. Eyes rest on her, and she wipes the sting of tears. She wants this SO badly, and it’s only the warmup. Her teammates, who know and understand her story, yell, “C’mon Kaylee!” “You’ve got this, Kaylee!” “Here we go, Kaylee!”
I sit on the cold bleachers with my left hand covering my mouth.
I see my daughter’s tears, and my heart aches.
Two months before this moment she rocketed down the gymnastics floor doing a round-off backhand-spring back-tuck, a routine skill. But she tweaked her ankle after the backhand-spring and the momentum caused her to fall violently on her upper back and neck. These sorts of falls are part of this sport, but this was freaky. I, along with her coaches, thought she would “get through it” in a day or two.
Making herself sick she wanted it so badly, but the fear was real. A blatant thief. A terrorizing beast hovering over her every time she stepped on the floor. Bricks were being built in front of her until her vision was entirely blocked and all she recalled, all she remembered, all she could think about was the cruel fall’s hurt. I so get it. I’ve been there.
When it first happened, we talked about it, challenging her to press through. But it soon became apparent the fear was deep, and our verbiage shifted. In fact, there were no words. Matt and I honestly did NOT care if she touched the floor one more time and she was done with gymnastics, but we did care that somehow, someway we got through this. This transcended gymnastics. We were dealing head-on with a life skill and a mile marker in her journey.
So, here I stand from the bleachers to get a better view of my petite girl.
And with all the brave gumption mustered in her small frame, and the gym’s focus and vocalization drawn to her, she propels her body through the bricks, past the terrorizing dragon and completes a round-off, backhand-spring, back-tuck.
She amazingly performs the skill in her routine and runs after the music stops to give her coach, who’s been there every single, agonizing minute, a big hug.
That Sunday after church, we asked her what her lesson was about.
“I think you know a thing or two about that,” I said.
A smile filled her face.
Sweet Daughter, hide courage in your heart for the next time the dragon breathes fire. Hold up your shield, let go of your arrow of bravery and truth, and watch the dragon crumple to the ground. And tomorrow … You may need to do it all over again. And again. And again. Trust me, I know.