Monday, October 7, 2013

Insane Courage

"You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it."
We Bought a Zoo, 2011

A few months ago, all five of my sisters and myself managed to gather at our parents' house sans kids and husbands for the first time in almost a decade. It was glorious and it gave the six of us the chance to open up to each other in ways that just haven't been possible with four husbands and five little boys running around.

We got re-acquainted with each other a bit, I think. And maybe reverted back a few years a bit (was the youngest sister teased into tears one night? Yes, Yes she was. Sorry about that, Lettie Girl...). More than anything, though, I think that we were able to simply be there for each other.

One cloudy afternoon during that spring trip, I took a drive with my mom and sister #5, Emma. As we drove, Mom shared with us some memories of our oldest sister, Aimee. Being the oldest, Aimee was understandably always a step ahead of the rest of us, and we didn't always get to see the triumphs she experienced in her quiet way. Em and I enjoyed the picture of 12 year old Aimee that our Mom painted for us and I, for one, was quite touched by the image of my sweet sister contentedly eating lunch by herself her sixth grade year. 

Our family had just moved back to the US from a three-year stint in Mexico that summer. Aimee had to leave our sister 
Kristen and I behind in elementary school and start middle school by herself in this new city, a new state, a new country. My mom told us about her worries as she watched her first-born trudge off into the wilds of pre-teens each day, aching for her to be happy. 

My sister is much the same as that quiet 12-year-old who wanted nothing more than to eat lunch alone each day. Know then what an impact it had on Emma and I when Aimee later gave us the following advice (loosely paraphrased):

"I realized somewhere along the line that friends are actually important and beneficial and, dare I say, necessary. Making those friends, however, has never been, nor ever will be easy for me, so I have to force myself. No, really. I require myself to get out there and meet people. I hate it. But you know what? It works."

This is where the quote from the movie We Bought a Zoo that I started this post with came in. Emma responded to Aimee's admission with said quote and you know what? As strange as it may seem, my sisters changed my life that day.

With just a few moments of the most intense bravery that we can muster up in our weak selves, we are capable of so much. Whatever we are afraid of, whatever we know will be great if we can just take that first step- give yourself twenty seconds. Or even just ten. Maybe five. However many you can spare, just do it. Trust me- if my sister can talk herself into going to dozens of parents meetings, baby showers, church activities and play groups and come out the other side not only alive, but with a few new friends in tow, then the rest of us can conquer almost any fear that tries to block our way.

Six Sisters, April 2013
Top, left to right: Molly, Kristen, Aimee
Bottom, left to right: Lettie, Emma, Me (Jill!)

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