When I was 2 years old my family moved from southern California to Germany. My Dad felt called to be a missionary in Germany, so he told my Mom, and they moved with there 4 kids. At the time, we were 1, 2, 4 and 6. Yikes Spikes! I don’t really have a lot of memories from living in Germany (considering I was only 2 and 3 years of age), but I do have a few select memories. They are the kind of memories that are foggy and feel almost like they happened to someone else. I remember bits of them, maybe not the whole memory… or maybe not exactly as it happened. So, here is a story, about a half-remembered memory…
The neighborhood we lived in while in Germany was a safe one. I remember following my older brother and sister around without much parental guidance. We had lots of time to play and just be kids. There was a specific place that we use to play at a lot. It was a lightly wooded area near our house and my siblings and I, along with some neighborhood german friends and other missionary kids, decided to build a tree house there. Here is where my memory gets a little foggy and I am not totally sure what our actual tree house looked like.
As a three year old, I was probably too young to be hanging out in this area with my older siblings, but I remember wanting to be apart of what they were doing so badly. I think they just let me tag along out of pity. After living in Germany and traveling around Europe for two years, there is only one memory that I can recall with clarity. It happened after a rainy day at the “tree house.” Upon approaching the tree house, I remember seeing my brother high in a tree and all I could think was, “I want to do that.” The only problem was I was 3 years old! Not to mention, there was a giant puddle between me and the tree. Now when I say high in the tree I remember my brother being on the tallest branches that would sway with the wind. And when I say giant puddle I remember it being as large as one of the great lakes. As a three year old, whose head was way to large for my body, I decided that I would cross the great lake, climb the tree and sway in the wind high above the earth with my big brother. I took one step into the puddle, tripped, face-planted, stood-up, started balling my eyes out and ran back home, covered in mud-soaked tears, hearing laughter from some of the German kids as I ran home.
Every time I’ve told that story, I’ve always told it to get a laugh. And while you might be laughing because of it, I am telling it for a different reason today. In my life, since that point, I have fallen on my face more than a few times, both literally and figuratively. Most of the literal falls were based in stupidity – whether it was during my brief attempt to be a skater or trying to make Jackass audition tapes. The figurative face plants are the ones that I more closely relate to that little three-year-old mud-soaked version of myself. They are the type of faceplants that take guts and bravery. They require that one bold step with a mission, like a three year old trying to climb a tree. Yes, it was probably impossible for me to climb the tree, especially with my disproportioned head, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to try. In my young adult life I’ve been met with some of those same challenges. It did seem impossible for us to open a store and keep it open amidst the financial turmoil our country is in and the corporate competition at the mall, who have millions of dollars backing them. But we didn’t let those giant puddles or tall branches scare us, we took that first step and then the second step – and then we took a bad one and fell, but unlike that three year old version of myself we kept walking even though we were covered, head to toe, in mud. I don’t even think we are out of the giant puddle yet… and sometimes it feels like we won’t ever be, but we keep pushing because we have a bigger, ultimate business goal.
We live in an instant world and we expect everything to work right away, but it doesn’t. We expect people to just carry us over the puddle or for the puddle to just move for us, and if we end up covered in mud, we blame the puddle. It’s time for you to be brave and push through your puddle, fall, get back up and climb to the tallest branch you can. It could be a business, a workout, or a relationship — whatever it is, it will take time. And a fist full of three year old bravery.