I’ve never done this before (sharing a friend’s blog post on my site), but wisdom has taught me to look to others in areas that I am not seasoned so that I can learn from them. Motherhood is one of those areas. I am not a mom, but I know many excellent ones. I don’t have children of my own (yet), but I have the express privilege of watching a number of godly women raise their precious little ones by grace through faith. My dear friend, Corinne Shark, is one of those mamas. She has taught me loads of what it means to be a godly wife and a loving mother. So, today, I share her words with you. The below post was recently published in mamalode, “America’s best parenting magazine”, and I can’t help but think you will be just as blessed as I was to hear her heart. Enjoy!
by Corinne Shark
“Sure you can, sweetie!”
“I’m gonna fall! I’m gonna hurt myself! I’m scared!”
“I’m right here. I won’t let you fall.”
“I’m not perfect, you know.”
“Aw honey, no one expects you to be perfect. Just try.”
“But will you still be proud of me even if I can’t ride my bike?”
And there it was. My reflection. This was no longer about the bike. Her brilliant blue eyes pleaded for love and acceptance,free from performance and fears of failure. It weighed so heavily on her sweet little six-year-old heart. The giggling thrill of pedaling through the toasted sunlit breeze as it tousled her hair just wasn’t worth the risk. What if her fears came true? What if she really couldn’t do this heart’s desire? What if she really felt that she wasn’t perfect and saying it out loud really didn’t soften the blow like she had planned.
And then, like a strip of film pulled from an old camera and exposed to the light, images of myself reeled across my memory. Instance after disappointing instance flashed moments where my own fear of failure was so completely paralyzing that I only stepped forward when another took my hand and pulled me through. In a split second I recalled so many things I wish I would have done or tried. My sweet girl’s fit initially frustrated me, but then it slowly stole my breath.
“I will always love you, sweet girl. Even if you never ride a bike.
There is nothing you can do to make me love you more, and nothing you can do to ever make me love you less. I don’t want you to miss out on the fun. Can you be brave and let me help you try?”
“Are you brave, Mama?”
I couldn’t help but laugh. These tiny human beings whom we teach and shape and guide, show us ourselves. They confront us with our deepest places. They give words to those pieces of us that we are too embarrassed to admit. Her heart’s cries are the same as mine.
I can’t do it! I’m scared! I’m not perfect! Will you still be proud of me? With her simple questions, I’m struck with the realization that she needs me to be brave. She needs to see it. She needs to reach out and touch it. To witness risk and effort, possibility and hope, even disappointment and failure. Cheers or tears. She needs to see me try, living without regret. She needs to see unconditional love, one that’s not based upon performance and success but upon trust and grace and the courage that bursts from that kind of safety.
What brave looks like.
Suddenly, as if to do a thing for the benefit of only myself is not legitimate enough, my desire to model for her that which I want so desperately to see in myself outweighed the petty fears that have whispered my own. Old dreams began moving their way forward in my brain and I recognized their silhouettes like old friends. My girl was pulling me through.
Right there in the middle of our street with her helmet and pads and handlebar streamers-she was inviting me back into myself.
That moment began our year of BRAVE in which she stood as both inspiration and partner. I watched her slay her fears left and right. This year has been one of tree climbing and skateboarding, cruiser riding, surfing, balance beam walking and math fact memorizing.
I began stepping forward into things I had been musing over yet never acting upon. One by one I crossed them off my list. Some I just dipped my toe into and others I jumped into fully clothed. I made the long anticipated leap into home education, set off on a journey with my husband toward international adoption and jumped back into the pool for what had always been my favorite workout. I’ve taken risks with my writing and received a violin to relearn the music of my youth.
With every single step, the paralysis that had seeped into my soul gradually began to break free. And I began to leave behind the bondage of expectations, both my own and others. When success is no longer the goal anything can happen. Even riding a bike.
With fewer tears she presses on all in the name of bravery. And when the tears come, I will be there. In the sunlit breeze. Pulling her through.
A fish out of water, Corinne Shark fosters her long distance love affair with the sea from her home in the desert, while raising two tiny revolutionaries together with her husband and partner-in-crime. She writes in between family long board skate sessions and obsessive urban chicken coop research at The Salty Shark.