Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Advice I Should Take

What would I tell Abby?

I couldn't shake this question when I finished reading Brene Brown's latest book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.

Her book is titled after Theodore Roosevelt's speech, "The Man in the Arena":

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly..." 

What would I tell Abby about getting in the arena?

When I look at my sweet girl, when I see all the gifts she's been given, when I see her spirit, her dreams, her determination, and her compassion, I want to do everything in my power to make sure no one in her life thwarts her goals, to let her know it's okay to undertake new endeavors, to try something she hasn't yet mastered, to take risks that others may criticize.

I don't ever want her to hold back for fear of what others may think.

I don't ever want her to withhold herself from the world because she may not succeed.

I want to support her as she walks bravely through this life, sharing herself and her ideas and her creativity with those around her.

I know she will experience heartache. I know there will be times when the risk pays off in pain. But I know her life will be fuller for having stepped out in courage, for having "dared greatly."

Whatever the outcome, I will cheer wildly. I will be so breathlessly proud of her willingness to simply show up in the fullness of who she is.

And isn't this how God feels about me?

It's easy to tell someone else to take the risk, to attempt the seemingly impossible for the sake of living fully, to ignore the critics and naysayers.

But what about me? Can I take my own advice? Can I find the courage to act on the seeds of inspiration planted deep within?

In her chapter about parenting, Brown says this:

"Who we are and how we engage with the world are much stronger predictors of how our children will do than what we know about parenting."

So what would I tell Abby if she were in my shoes? How would I encourage her to engage this world?

I would tell her to be brave. To lean into the uncomfortable. To silence the voice that says, Who do you think you are? To do the things that make her feel most alive, even if they make her most afraid. To accept error and shortcoming as a necessary byproduct of effort, not a sign that she should give up. To be willing to fail for the opportunity to succeed.

And if that's how I hope she will live, if those are values I hope she'll embrace, then that's how I need to live, how I want to live--as a mother, as a writer, as a fellow sojourner on this earth.

For my daughter's sake.

And for mine.

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