One of our favorite things to do is to have her stand on my stomach while I’m lying on my back. Since she’s still just a baby, I have to hold her up by placing my hands on her sides. And in this position, she holds out her arms to steady herself, and tries to take a step forward or backward, and bounces a bit up and down as she strengthens her leg muscles by pushing down on me. Sometimes I lean her right or left or backwards or forwards, just to see how she’ll react. Sometimes I switch between bouncing her on her feet and bouncing her on her bottom. Sometimes I hold her up towards the sky like Rafiki proudly lifts up and displays Baby Simba for the entire kingdom to see. And sometimes I pick her up off my stomach and pretend she’s an airplane flying in this or that direction – until she opens her mouth and unloads some drool bubble cargo right onto my face (at which point I yell “GROSS!” and freak out more than a little). Everything about parenting at this stage (the sleep-deprived nights, the constant interruptions, the mountains of poopy diapers, and the perpetual mental fogginess) becomes worthwhile when she smiles or laughs or coos at me in these moments. It’s the best.
What has struck me, though, is how Maya has absolutely zero fear right now. None, as far as I can tell. When she stands (with my help) on my stomach, she knows I am going to hold her and not let her fall. She doesn’t even know what “falling” is. No one has let her fall yet – not me, not her mom, not anyone, not even God. And as such, she’s been protected from the pain that you and I know all too well from the vicissitudes of life. I am steady, strong, constant, and focused with my grip on my baby, and there is no way that I am going to drop her. No way. And this frees her to enjoy the moment. This frees her from worry (which clearly is a learned behavior), and emboldens her to try to take a step or two. Or even a jump. The bottom line is that she knows she is safe – perfectly and wonderfully safe in my arms. She does not know the opposite.
We’ve all been hurt countless times by others, and perhaps even a time or two by God (at least from our limited perspective and viewpoint), or by what God seems to have allowed into our lives. We’ve even hurt ourselves along the way with decisions we’ve made, and cumulatively all of this makes us feel decidedly unsafe as we live out our days. Indeed, many of our attitudes (our bent towards being critical, or jealous, or sarcastic) and our choices (from what we feel led to purchase, to how we present ourselves in social situations or on social media, to whether we approach a cute girl or try a new job or start anew in a different city) are tainted by fear. Spend some time psychoanalyzing your decisions as you make them this week, and you’ll be surprised how fear of the bottom falling out or fear of what other people think or fear of failure or fear of missing out affect what you do (or don’t do). It’s shocking and it’s crazy. But this is our reality.
I know we cannot wipe our memory banks clean and approach every new situation like we were a baby again – with no reference points, with no experience of failing or falling. Not only is that impossible, it’s not wise – because we’ve learned so much from the pain and it has served a meaningful purpose.
But seeing how Maya trusts me not to let her fall as she’s trying new things honestly inspires me to want to trust God more, and operate more fully with the mindset that He won’t drop me as I’m trying new things. Nothing ventured is nothing gained, and so I should never let fear hold me back especially because I know He is holding me tight – regardless of whether I succeed or fail. I mean, the Bible is so clear about this and yet I feel it is a promise we frequently just plain forget:
It’s interesting that God doesn’t need both hands to hold me. Apparently, just one – His right hand – will do! To me, that conveys how it’s so easy for Him, it’s no bother or trifle in the least. These verses to me are like: “Sameer, Chill! I got you bro!” Can you picture yourself in His one hand? I can picture myself. It seems super spacious. I’m in like a little valley or crevice or indentation in His palm. I feel really safe. It feels like no matter what, everything will be okay.
I want to live and try and do things there.
And there is where I am. There is where I – and you – always are, and always will be.
We just need to remember it. And take a step, or two.
Or even a jump.
Image source: http://bit.ly/2AJv3XX