Sunday was my youngest daughter’s very first gymnastics meet, and if you read my previous blog post, you know that there was a lot at stake that had very little to do with gymnastics. It was my child’s day to face her fear.
Overcoming fear looks much more gritty than the movies make it out to be. In fact, it happens to be a lot like childbirth…ugly and beautiful all at the same time.
If this was a movie, Kennedy would have bounded out of bed, took the bull by the horns and charged out on that gym floor to handspring herself to a gold medal. However, facing fear isn’t that easy and it certainly isn’t that pretty. It wasn’t pretty in our house Sunday morning.
The raw reality of this story is that when I told Kennedy it was time to put on her leotard, she began crying and screaming. The kind of cry that is irrational and inconsolable. It was real, wrenching, and painful to watch. She was simply terrified of failing at her handspring and didn’t want to even attempt anything. Tears rolled out of her eyes as she trembled from the top of her head to the bottom of her feet.
As a mother, I was sad, angry, frustrated, and confused all at the same time. Was I really going to have to FORCE her to face this? But I already knew the answer…yes. As parents, our job is to be the strong one when our child is weak. Our job is to KNOW when our child is capable, but incapacitated by fear. Our job is to know when to push and when to stand off. It is a cruel calling on so many levels, but also is a profound lesson all in itself. If you feel like God is “pushing” you face difficult things, it’s because He probably is. This was one of those times when I was called to push as well.
After a treacherous few minutes of getting Kennedy in the car, the ride to the gym was silent other than the hum of the radio. The song played, “I know who goes before me, I know Who stands behind. The God of angel armies, He’s always by my side…” I watched in the rearview mirror as Kennedy mouthed the words to the music. I breathed a sigh of relief that she has the foundation of Christ in her life. He can lead her where I cannot. My own personal helplessness subsided a bit.
Thankfully by the time we arrived, she had gathered herself and put a smile on her face when she saw her gym friends. That was the end of ugly part. The beautiful part is that Kennedy ended up having an amazing morning on a gymnastics level and a personal level. Without the option to quit, she did what she knew to do. In the end, she medaled in all four events and nailed the handspring she so dreaded. She took 3rd in her age group for the All Around score, and out of the nearly 60 competitors, she landed with the 8th highest score. For her first meet, she knocked it out of the park.
But you all know that her medals are but dust compared to the step she took within her own confidence. What mattered to me most was that she showed up to her life. She didn’t stay on the couch wrapped in a blanket. In spite of all of the ugliness of fear tumbling out in a haphazard and uncontrollable way, she persevered and made it happen.
For all of you who went on this journey with us, my hope is that you face your fear as well…even if that means you go in kicking and screaming. Sometimes I wonder if greatness never happens because we are most afraid of the process. So cry if you have to, scream if you must, but when that is all over, my hope for you is that you will do what you have to do to fulfill your dreams.
And to my Kennedy…I’m so proud of you, Baby. You have always been one of my greatest teachers and my greatest treasures. I love you!
Here’s a link to her floor video if you’d like to see the moment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wk3SrGYqZXU&feature=youtu.be