You is Fearless
Miss Cherry can remember, oh so distinctly, being sent out into the hall for talking. It was the First Grade…supposed to be learning something, supposed to be thinking about self-control…and there she sat, happy as a lark…visiting with the kids and teachers who walked by. They’d stop…have a nice conversation…laugh…then, walk away. “Aren’t you supposed to be in trouble?”
Eventually, Cherry’s First Grade Teacher would come out and say…” What is the point of sitting you out in the hall, if you are going to talk out here? Go to the Principal’s office.” So, Little Miss Cherry would go to the Principal’s office, and she’d talk there. They would give her treats, have her sit in the corner… give her some kind of work to do. Try to act all stern and discipline-ish. That wouldn’t last long.
They hugged on her, smiled at her…and told her…” You know, your Teacher really likes you, you’re not bad but when you talk during class, it makes it hard for her to teach.” A light bulb went off. It wasn’t that the teacher didn’t want her to visit with her friends, or contribute to the class…she needed Cherry to reign it in…and save it for recess and P.E. The school secretary…who was Cherry’s new best friend…told her…” Your teacher needs you to be a good little girl so she can teach all of the other kids. You are helping your teacher when you talk at the appropriate times.”
That changed the world. Now, Cherry could help her teachers and be good. And although she had some socializing to do…there would be plenty of opportunity at the “appropriate” times. This idea became more of a guideline and not a hard fast rule. It was a study in setting limits for a kid who didn’t believe that limits existed. Limits didn’t fit into her view of the world. After all, Cherry was a little social butterfly.
Up to this point…Cherry’s parents lived in fear that she’d just disappear one day, as she never met a stranger. Matter of fact, Cherry had absolutely zero fear as a kid. The only thing that stopped her dead in her tracks was the Devil. Apparently, he didn’t like nice little Christian girls – and was going to get her if she didn’t watch out. So – here was the quandary through the eyes and mind of a First Grader. ”
If I’m too good of a little girl, the Devil will get me. Bad, bad – scary bad things will happen because you are good, never sin and love Jesus.”
Thank you, Fundamental Baptist Church and their children’s program. Anyway…
“If I’m not perfectly good all of the time, I’m a bad little girl who is sinning and Jesus won’t be happy.”
And, since Cherry had seen that picture of Jesus living in her heart, waiting each day to come by and say hello, be good and not sin…she was torn.
So, each day she’d say ‘Hello’ to Jesus. Talk to him on the walk to school. Visit. Socialize. People would walk up and say…” Who are you talking to, Cherry?” …and she’d tell them…
” Well, Jesus lives in my heart…and it makes him sad when I forget to tell him ‘Hi’ every day. So, I’m talking to Jesus. He’s great. He talks back.”
And, so began the struggle of being good, semi-good, perfect, bad, semi-bad…whatever. I’d talk to Jesus every day, because he was hanging out in her heart, they’d socialize…everyone was happy.
Anyway, to round out the story…this was the pattern. Each year, year over year…Cherry would have a teacher or teachers, coaches, principals who fed her creativity, independence and fearless nature. They wouldn’t punish her for being the way she was…they would actually help her express, expand and evolve her talents and skills. She’d walk around talking to Jesus, trying to be good.
And then, she would have the opposite…with the teachers, coaches who would punish, shame, mock and be hateful. And when she wasn’t good or perfect…she would wrestle with how to tell Jesus – as if he didn’t already know. Cherry felt disrespectful, silly, awkward.
Things didn’t always line up. She was either punished or rewarded for who she was and what she accomplished, depending on the source. Cherry was shown her school record going back to the First Grade. It was covered in the following comments…
” Sweet girl, talks a lot.”
“Talks, disrupts and needs to focus.”
“Social, talks a lot, kind”
“Talks and doesn’t follow the class rules.”
“Always smiling, needs direction, contributor”
“Thinks she owns the school”
“Funny and fearless.”
Looking back…Cherry did think she owned the school. It was her happy place. She loved being there with her friends, loved her teachers, loved her coaches…loved the library…loved the administrators (especially her stellar line up of Principals who encouraged her to be fearless with Orange Crush, candy and tasks in the office when she was sent there to sit – Mr. Bradham, Mr. Hillman, etc.)
Cherry thought that school was the perfect place. It was what happened after she had breakfast and walked to school – oftentimes, stopping to visit with all of her favorite neighbors along the way, as Cherry was a true morning kid. Then, when she arrived at school…there were activities before class…and they were fun. Learning stuff. Hanging with friends. Art class.
Recess was amazing. P.E. – wouldn’t miss it for anything.
Followed by after school activities – which usually were sports, cheerleading, Camp Fire Girls, walking home with friends…church stuff…you name it. Being a kid as she knew it.
Let’s talk about what being fearless means today.
Companies will hire Cherry because she can walk into a room and not meet a stranger. She likes all kind of people. They will hire her because she is smart, well rounded, hard-working, a team player and a leader. All of these skills honed from birth on…with socialization, imagination, creativity, fearlessness…allow her to have a seat at the table.
It means that out of a lifetime of learning comes that there are people who are fear based, and people who aren’t. People who say what they think, and people who don’t. People who color outside of the lines of their life with the big box of crayons with the cool sharpener, and people who worry about what other people think about their choice of one crayon. And, everyone has their reasons and framework.
It’s a big world out there…and it runs on balance. People are people are people. Plenty of room for the smorgasbord of opinions, cultures, and approaches to life. One person’s talent and gifts are another person’s worst fears. You terrify them.
One person’s talent and gifts are another person’s inspiration. You help them.
One person’s talents and gifts are par for course for another. You can run at their speed.
For another moment, another day, another year, another decade…the world spins around on it’s axis.
Miss Cherry learned that being fearless was her nature from birth, and a gift. That we have all of these talents and gifts rolled into our DNA, ready to be unleashed on the general public for a purpose.
But, what she remembers most about her elementary school folder was that fearless was written in red.
And, red is her favorite color.