Finding courage and forgiveness

Finding courage and forgiveness

My neighbor’s dog runs through a flock of pink flamingos. They were on our lawn as part of a fundraiser for the Special Olympics. I love being in a tight-knit community, but at times it’s too tight.

Our neighbor’s dog — it’s a sweet dog but jumps on my kids and can be a pain in the butt. It takes a lot of courage and forgiveness to deal with the dog’s antics.

And courage and forgiveness is something I’ve been dealing with a lot lately as I tackle some mental aspects of fitness.

I recently gave my daughter a necklace for International Women’s Day. Made by Momentum Jewelry, the simple silver chain has a circle pendant with a hole in the center. The words “Choose Courage” are stamped onto it. A purple amethyst is its own pendant, and covers the hole in the circle. Simple, yet beautiful.

It was before track practice started and this was something scary and new for her. We talked for a good 10 minutes or so about “choosing courage” and what it meant before I gave  the necklace to her.

A few weeks pass, and track is going great. Until one day, she skips track practice. Her first excuse is that she’s sore. Eventually, the truth comes out — my husband and I are professional truth-seekers.

A few days later, my daughter and I sat on the kitchen floor waiting for something to finish baking. She told me why she skipped practice. She was scared of letting down her teammates in the relay race. If you drop the baton, your team gets disqualified. That’s a scary thing to her.

“Why should you even try, if you know you’re going to fail?” she said, half yelling, half crying.

All I could think about was how many times I’ve said the exact same thing and how quickly she forgot my “choose courage” speech.

Running and, more specifically, my work with Team Red, White and Blue, has given me the self-confidence to “choose courage” at times when I would have otherwise ran away.

I mean, if you asked me 10 year ago, if I wanted to run a marathon, I probably would have said yes, but would have talked myself out of it before our conversation ended. I have always wanted to be adventurous, but have been more content sitting on the sidelines. Then I had kids and starting learning what my body can do. And it’s a lot more than I thought.

I’m going to do a polar plunge this weekend and our weather has been on the chilly side. This is going to suck, but I’ve always been fascinated by polar plunges. So why not at least do it once, right?

So, as we waited for the food, my daughter talked and poured her heart out a little. I just sat and listened. We live in a new community. This tight-knit area has one school for every grade level, so kids have been friends since kindergarten in some cases. Mountain Kid 1 jumped from a small pond to an even smaller one — and she is an insignificant koi fish among hundreds of striped bass. At least, that’s what she thinks sometimes.

I went to 11 different schools as a child, so I know how she’s feeling. But I didn’t want to give her that speech. I acknowledged her pain and tried to help her get out of her head and future-tripping.

Future-tripping is something I learned from Paul Young, writer of “The Shack.” He visited my town recently and gave two different talks, but with similar themes. One of the biggest takeaways for me was future-tripping. Basically, you get into your head and think of all the scenarios of how things could go. You talk yourself out of something. I do it a lot more than I’d like to admit.

When you play these scenarios in your head, you eliminate God and the joy in your life, Young said.

Eventually as we talked and hugged, Mountain Kid 1 got out of her head and was ready, albeit a bit nervous, to try again. She has a meet today, and I can’t wait to see how it goes.

This talk with her, combined with a sermon I heard the next day, got me thinking.

The sermon was about forgiveness. Let’s say you stole my wallet. You give it back and I forgive you.

Do you believe me?

If you don’t, you aren’t truly forgiven.

As a human who feels like she messes up more than she helps, I struggle with forgiveness. Not just being forgiven by others, but accepting that it’s OK to take time away from the kids to recharge. It’s OK to not be at the kids’ beckon call every minute of every day. It’s a classic case of Mom Guilt.

I struggle with forgiving myself for what I perceive as slights or imperfections. I don’t have the courage to be OK with letting things I do wrong or think I do wrong go.

As the pastor said, clinging to these mistakes and not forgiving them is harmful. Clinging to the idea that you will make a mistake is harmful. This process harms your growth as a person. I know it has stunted my growth as a person.

This weekend, talking with my daughter, gave me a glimpse at how much further I have to go in my process to shatter my old thought process.

This weekend, I forgave myself for most of those times I have felt guilty, and the times it felt like I let others and myself down.

I am worthy of forgiveness. I am worthy of choosing courage. I am worthy of trusting others and myself. I am worthy of taking care of myself, even if I have to let other things take care of themselves for a while.

I just hope my kids learn it for themselves way before I did.

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