Despite the smile in this picture (read: I know I am three and cute and everyone in this family wants a picture of me on their own iPhone but I want to get off this rock and play in the sand), there is no one in my life who has taught me more about fearlessness than this girl.
One day, while we were on our vacation, a man purposely went into a garbage can and took out a bunch of food. I just thought he was homeless but I was wrong; he just wanted to created a Seagull Riot four feet away from me and my little sister. They were rabid for this half eaten pizza and trying to kill anyone who got in the way. Because of the way we were positioned, I couldn’t get the two of us away and so unfortunately, we watched all this happen.
I am not going to lie, I was scared. These birds wanted that food and there were sounds of aggression and sounds of pain as they hurt one another to get it. (I think there is a metaphor here for another post but I’ll stick with my point here). Most of all, they were close to us! In order to keep the food to themselves, they kept coming closer and closer so they could turn their back on the flock, thus bringing the flock with them.
Maybe it’s just me but I don’t love rabid seagulls. Especially when I am holding my little sister.
She sat on my lap, watching all this happening. “It’s okay, Neen,” she murmured to me above the din of the birds and pat one of the hands I had around her waist. “Don’t be scared.”
I know her well enough to know that she wasn’t scared based on the tone of her voice. She’s said the same thing to me when I screeched that the Wicked Witch stole Toto in The Wizard of Oz. She knew, sitting on her sister’s lap, with our brother right beside us, that those birds were not going to hurt her. Period. End of story.
“I’m scared of birds,” I admitted to her. (Okay? So what? I am. And no, I didn’t know I was until I was in Venice and surrounded by them.)
She tilted her head back and gave me her trademark smile. “No, you’re not scared,” she told me. I can’t tell you the number of times she has said this to me in the past year–the three year old to the twenty five year old. I love the way she says it too–as if I’m being silly, as if her big sister Nina would never be scared of a rabid seagull flock because her big sis is too tough for that. It’s that simple for her and maybe it should be.
People take care of her. They make sure she is safe and protected and rightfully so, since she is three years old. She doesn’t really have anything to be afraid of–even when she is literally leaping from furniture into my arms, she isn’t afraid because I always catch her. I’ve never missed. She doesn’t know fear yet, this little girl who thinks the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park are funny, and I would be lying if I told you she is not constantly teaching me things.
“I’m scared,” I admit to her.
“No, you’re not,” she always replies, as if I am so silly.
When I consider my brief twenty five years (perhaps a bit longer than three but still brief), I don’t have the same track record as Ava. People have failed me and more often, I have failed myself. But. But. But.
There is always Someone catching me, every single time. And if He allows me to fall, there has always been a purpose behind it–something better. Every single time. So I can leap with just as much fearlessness as Ava. Sometimes I just need my little sis to remind me of the these huge, important life lessons.
And let’s face it, adventures require fearlessness. That doesn’t mean, I am never afraid; it only mean I choose something different.
Listen to my sister: be fearless,
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.” Psalm 56:3