When I was three I had an alter-ego called Big Man Tough.
I have no idea how my sisters and I came by this name but he existed nonetheless and when I was him, I wore sweatbands on both wrists and around my curly three year old head and chased my sisters around our grandmother’s house for hours on end. Looking back, I can’t believe I agreed to this game but somehow I did and the game was a favorite amongst us three girls. It went something like this- I would hide in a crevice in my Big Man Tough getup and my two older sisters would sneak around corners until they found me, usually within two minutes of the start of the game. I would then stand up on a chair or the back of the couch, growl and clench my teeth and shake (and on occasion snap and bite), yelling out “I’m Big Man Tough and I’ll get you!” to which they would howl with fear and run away so I could hide and we would begin Round Two. Why this was fun and how it came to be, I have no clue but it is a distinct and very fond memory.
I tell you this because I realize now, as an adult, that there are many circumstances in my life that require me to be brave and tough and I feel like I fail miserably at them. It seems I have forgotten how to steel myself, set my face like flint and stand tall to meet the challenge of the hour. At what point in my transition from girlhood to womanhood did I forget how to be brave?
I used to do crazy things as a child. I would climb to the highest tree branch, chase guinea hens all over the farm, climb the doorway to the top using only my sticky bare feet. Once, my mother said she came into the kitchen to find me, at two, sitting on top of the refrigerator. I played with all boys, rode on tractors, learned how to shoot a .22 when I was twelve and had numerous puncture wounds on my knees from the many bike and roller-skate escapades I went on.
But somehow before my 25th birthday, I seemed to have lost my bravery, my BMT persona, my ability to rise to the occasion in the face of adversity. I crumbled somehow and instead becoming like my mother’s coveted Johnny Jump-ups, became a shrinking violet instead. I lost my voice for awhile when the waves of the world swept over me bringing with them disappointment, loss and heartache. Instead of holding my breath and beating on, I went under and stayed, for a while that is…
But Spring is almost here and with it the hope of new beginnings. I turn 30 next month and even though it scares me to enter my thirties still single, still renting, still wandering, I have great hope. I’m going to call on my old BMT self, dust off (or perhaps buy) a pair of sweatbands (do they still make those?) and get back up on that chair. Because being brave doesn’t mean being unafraid. It means showing up regardless of the fear and having the wherewithal and backbone to withstand the blow. I may not be as fearless as I once was, but any woman who has called on the name of the LORD in despair will surely live to proclaim His goodness again in the land of the living. I may not be all things I had hoped and wished for by this time in my life, but I’m returning to those marvelous secrets I knew as a child- the ones that made me feel undefeatable and free in the first place. So when that 30th benchmark comes next month as the LORD willing it will, with Hope written on my heart (and perhaps also on my sweatbands), fists clenched and a twinkle in my eye, I believe I’ll be able to rise to the occasion. You never know what’s waiting for you just around the corner.