My daughter was born with a head full of red hair. My sister-in-law took it upon herself to nickname her “the brave”. A name that I think suits her perfectly. She’s 15-months-old and fearless beyond imagine. She terrifies me with her antics. She has absolutely zero concept of fear, which for me as a parent is both challenging and amazing to watch. If I’d let her she’d run straight into the street, swimming pool, or crowd full of strangers. I wish I could be more like her, without fear, without knowledge of fear.
Unfortunately, I am all too aware of the dangers around me. Since I was a little girl I’ve struggled with being afraid. As a child I’d have nightmares that something bad had happened to my mommy. I’d lay in bed in our Pomona home waiting for her to come home from her shift at Nordstrom. When she’d get ready for work I’d sulk or cry at her feet. I still remember those evenings fragranced with the scent of White Shoulders.
As a teenager learning to drive I remember gripping the steering wheel, palms sweaty. I didn’t want to admit it, but I was so afraid. My mom gave me Philippians 4:13 to repeat. It became my battle cry. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…”
I get on the plane. I speak in front of people. I move to a new country with a language I don’t speak. I give birth. I undergo a C-section. I entrust my children to babysitters and teachers. I hold the hand of the dying. I leave the house when the world just seems too scary, horrifying. “I can do all things…” I say it over and over, sometimes weeping, but facing whatever it is that scares me nonetheless.
This week as I reflect on the tragedy, the horrific act of terror in Orlando, I think of one particular story that has emerged. The story of Brenda Lee Marquez McCool the mother who used her body as a shield protecting her son. I read her story and wept. I wept like I wept when I read the story of Victoria Soto, a school teacher at Sandy Hook, who threw herself between bullets and her students in an act of heroism.
I think of these women, and know that there are so many more stories like this, stories of men and women who put themselves in harms way, who lose their lives as a sacrifice for their children, their students, their neighbors, their friends. These people are fierce, they are heroes, they are examples of raw unfiltered love.
May we ALL be like this. Oh in this season of politics and warfare. In the midst of trials and terrorism can we be the fierce? Can we stop with the divisiveness, can we stop looking at our differences and start looking at our similarities? Can we now start loving?
Is it not time to be fierce? To be the brave?
If not now, then when?
***photo credit photographybyadele