Photos of me by the fabulous Chandler Grace!
I was staring at the vast amount of coffee choices on aisle 4 at Kroger, trying to make sure I picked the right brand, consistency of bean, and flavor when I heard a father say to his son, “look at those pretty flowers she’s holding.” I immediately knew he was talking about me. My right hand was full with the thick stalks of long brilliant sunflowers (my favorites), currently petals towards the tile. I looked up to see the pair walking towards me hand-in-hand, the boy was probably a bit over 6-years-old. The man pointed to the long stems and asked, “ma’am, will you hold them up for him to see?” I replied by lifting the flowers to the boy’s eye level. He reached out excitedly but stopped short of the flowers, instinctively looking to his father before touching the bright yellow petals. “It’s okay, just don’t tug on them.” He lightly felt them between his marker stained fingers, then looked up straight into my eyes.
“Do you know why they’re called sunflowers?” I asked.
“Y-ye-ye-yes because they absorb the so-uh-uh-un.” He wasn’t nervous. I didn’t let surprise register on my face, I didn’t want him to know that I noticed he spoke differently than I did.
“That’s right, do you know what makes them unique?”
“They-ey-ey follow the su-uh-uh-un with their fa-a-ace!”
“Well look at that, you already knew. You are very, VERY smart.”
His face beamed towards me, absorbing the affirmation. Anchoring his eyes back to his father, they began to push their cart by me, but not before his dad whispered, “thank you.”
There are many things I loved about this encounter: a father talking about pretty flowers with his son, the trust between a boy and his dad, the eagerness to explore, but willingness to ask for permission first, the surprise of unafraid eye contact. But the thing I loved the most was that his father was encouraging him to speak. He was showing him that a speech impediment should not keep him quiet, should not keep him from meeting others, should not hold him back from learning new things (or in our case, sharing what we already know).
What is holding you back? Is it something real like a speech impediment, a disability, a mental or physical hindrance? Is it something perceived like appearance comparison or status quo? Is it something tangible like finances, location, occupation? What is holding you on a tight leash?
What makes you say things like: I would go for that IF, I would pursue them BUT, I would quit and move IF, I can’t try that BECAUSE, Since I (fill in the blank), I can’t do that, etc.?
Whatever it is, it is controlling you. Whatever it is, you’ve given it charge over your life. You are captive to what you place between you and your dreams. You are caged by what you believe is bigger than you…what you believe is bigger than God.
In this scenario, we are the little 6-year-old boy. We are eager and excited to try new things. We want to reach out and experience life, but oftentimes we don’t go for it because we seem to forget that we are holding the hand of the greatest father. He is urging us to try, to touch, to feel, to go, to do, to explore, to be everything He created us to be. He is watching over us, pointing us to new adventures, standing next to us as we try.
How differently we would live our lives if we could get a hold of our place in this world. How much more vibrant our days would be if we would follow where He leads. How rich our experiences would be if we would trust our creator more than our disabilities.
Reach for the sunflowers. Do something out of your comfort zone today. Compliment a stranger, ask someone you don’t know a question, make a human connection, do something different. Although big choices can change our lives, so can little ones. Start changing the trajectory of your life one small brave choice at a time and see where it takes you, what you learn, or who you meet.