Have Courage & Be Kind

We have toddlers, therefore we live a little behind the times. So in fine parenting fashion, we finally took the girls to see Cinderella just before the clock gonged and it vanished from theaters.

As a family we had watched the trailers, and honestly I wasn’t sure if the girls, both 3 years old, would be into a full live action film. Secretly I didn’t care, though, because I mostly just wanted to see it for myself!

All dressed up for the big show!

But they were indeed excited because, well, Cinderella. My girls love them some princesses… and ponies and dragons and spiders. We don’t discriminate against toys and imaginations around these parts.

The girls were enthralled. Arella loved the wicked stepmother because she’s into “bad guys” right now, and Zoe enjoyed the silliness of the goose and lizard becoming coachmen. They did each fancy Cinderella, too, mostly because she could ride a horse and sing.

I must tell you that I truly adored the movie. I’m not and never have been the girliest of girls, but I love a good story, especially one with a strong female hero. My heart was so full that the message was simple and sprinkled all throughout- have courage and be kind. It’s simple enough for a child and it’s also a great truth for all of us.

The definition of courage is this: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery. However I would disagree slightly. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is being afraid but facing the fear anyway. If you are not afraid, there’s no reason for courage or bravery. You earn those titles.

God even knows that we’ll be afraid. He says “fear not” and “do not fear” so many times in the Bible. He’s constantly reassuring us. God knows we will be afraid, and He says we can face the fear because we can trust Him (Isaiah 41:10). And He reminds us that fear is not something He has given us. He gave us power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). And perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).

And that perfect love goes beyond mushy feelings or being nice to people. Cinderella presented a very beautiful picture of kindness in a love that goes beyond loving people who love you in return. Cinderella served and cared for the very people who persecuted her, just like Jesus tells us to.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” -Matthew 5:43-44

This is Zoe and “the look” the day we met her. We got this look a lot in the beginning.

Once again, God has revealed His words to me through my kids. When we first met Zoe she was terrified of us. You can see for yourself in this video of the first time we met Zoe. Every time she got the slightest bit overwhelmed in those early days, she would get this sort of glazed over, zoned-out look on her face. She also started picking at her top lip. It was her way of coping with all the stress, changes and fear she was experiencing.

It was common place for the first few months but eventually it faded away. Whenever it made a reappearance after that, I would inwardly cringe and hurt for her because I knew what it meant: she was scared and couldn’t process what was going on around her.

I haven’t seen that look in a very long time, until this week. It struck again after I dropped her off at preschool. She loves preschool and was so excited to go that morning, but a switch flipped when I hugged her goodbye. It’s not unusual for her to be a little upset when I leave but she usually calms down in a minute or two.

They have this window parents can watch through that’s just a mirror to the kids. After dropping Arella off in her class, I came back to see how Zoe was doing, and my heart just dropped.

She was just standing there with that look, picking at her upper lip. It had been so long since I’d seen that look, I had hoped it had disappeared forever.

I asked myself a million questions while my heart ached for her. Is she sad? Is she scared? Why doesn’t she play? Does no one like her? Why aren’t the teachers doing anything? She looked so helpless and alone. I could feel my tears start to brim, my floodgates were at capacity.

Then in a moment everything changed.

After several excruciating minutes of watching the look, out of nowhere, she stopped and began happily skipping around the table. Then she walked right over to where all the kids were playing and joined in.

Princess Zoe beaming in her favorite dress.

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, my heart began to swell with pride. My scared, helpless little child just showed me true courage. She could’ve stayed like that, cried, protested, but she didn’t. She chose to be courageous, to face her fears, her hurts, the things that sometimes overwhelm her. Zoe has been through a lot in her little life, and she is choosing to have courage. I am inspired.

Jesus says that we will have trials and tribulations in this world (John 16:33). It’s not an “if” folks; we will face difficulties. But we can choose to trust God’s plan, face it head on and become courageous in the process. We can actually rejoice in the suffering because it will produce perseverance, character and hope.

“We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

— Romans 5:3-5

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