Courage is not always learned from our bravest, endurance from our greatest athletes, or leadership from our strongest, brightest, or most intelligent.
This is a short story about a young lady born in a country without a name, living on a military base that doesn’t exist with servicemen protecting weapons we don’t have. At 34 years old, she stands four-foot-eight inches tall weighing about seventy pounds. She may not be the individual normally thought of as the greatest teacher of critical life lessons, yet I assure you she has, is, and will change more lives than many of us reading this note.
If any of us were to ask her to run across an average room, say one that is fifty feet across, just as fast as she can, she would do so with all her heart. The emotion she would carry fulfilling this task would be that of a track star. She would maintain her effort to reach the other side no matter what may get in her way. Understand each time she falls while en route, she will fall; it proves only to be temporary as she gets up to pursuing the competition of her mission to finish. You see, her physical capacity has a boundary not many of us are limited to, and her coordination is slightly diminished. While her physical prowess is not identified as one of her personal strengths unfortunately, neither are her mental capabilities as she muscles through life either.
With this as background, please read about a story her father told which involved the two of them:
“My daughter and I were watching my son, who was out enjoying the thrill of ice skating. As my son moved across the rink with ease, my daughter thought it was as if he was flying. Then with little effort, it seemed, he could propel himself from side to side, spinning, gliding, and maneuvering. She could see how much her brother was enjoying himself. Even though there were occasional falls, he would get up, regain momentum and move on. Her interest was peeking as she began dreaming of participating, envisioning herself sailing across the ice.
Not knowing the how’s or why’s of the technical aspects of ice skating, she asked me to take her out skating. I, as with any father, wanted more than anything to see her out playing with the other kids on the ice. As I contemplated my daughter’s proposition, I thought there would be no way for me to assist; I can’t skate! My thoughts continued as I was thinking there would be no way to assure her safety and, in fact, we would probably get hurt. Then my daughter sensing my hesitation, asked again, “Daddy, what’s wrong? Let’s go skate.” Still not confident or knowing how to take her onto the ice safely, I responded honestly, saying, “Sorry honey, I can’t skate.” To this, my daughter, taking me by the hand, responded immediately with all the conviction of her heart, “It’s okay daddy, I will hold your hand.” Oh, the lessons learned from those who seem to have little to give when they teach us to give our all.
We skated that day, and she continued to skate, becoming the recipient of many ribbons and medals awarded her for her ability. By the world’s definition, perhaps, she really can’t skate. Her attempts are continually met with falls and crashes, yet who wants to be limited by that belief? In every race I remember, she fell, getting up each time and finishing. During one race, her fall broke her kneecap, yet even under this extreme circumstance, she got up and finished.”
Those who perhaps enjoy greater capacity in their ability to analyze may, in fact, use knowledge to place obstacles in their path, creating fear. These limiting factors keep us from trying new things, reaching new heights, and experiencing all life offers. This young soul doesn’t comprehend the “I can’t” limitations placed in our lives by overthinking. To those of us who are average, we must first overcome the fear of the perceived obstacles we place in our own way. Often after we overcome these fears, we test the water, giving perhaps a mediocre attempt. If we fail, we often give up, turn around and go home. Failure is proof to us we should have never tried. Not with this young lady; however, she is one who has tenacity enabling her to push on regardless of the roadblock. Her inner will, her faith, and her belief give her conviction of soul pushing beyond all obstacles as if there is nothing to derail her.
The simplicity of her attitude carries a deep meaning for each of us. We with greater ability often overlook our own potential. Think of our examples in life, our mentors, those who motivate or teach us, and even our leaders. They really don’t require intelligence, size, talent, good looks, or even athletic ability to be worthy of our admiration. We need a heart of faith, an inner belief, unfailing love, and perseverance. The greatest lessons we can learn are from the simplest of experiences.
Here is another story about the dedication of this wonderful young soul. A large corporation employs her; she serves as a delivery person in the mailroom. All on her route know without question if she is asked to deliver a piece of mail to an individual, it will get there regardless of the time or circumstance. She carries a flawless record of meeting all of her supervisor’s requests. She meets each person with joy expressing gratitude for the opportunity to serve.
One afternoon in the building where she works, the employees were involved in a tragic event that required the entire building to be evacuated. Many thought they were going to die with all evacuating frantically in masses of chaos. People were pushing, shoving, and trying to find their way to safety. When they reached the streets, there were officers counting the people seeking evidence that there was no one left behind in the building; those left behind would meet their certain death. All were accounted for, except, of course, for this young lady. Officials asked the staff if they were sure she was in the building, and they offered she was. The next question was finding where these friends thought this young girl would go; they were unsure. One suggested perhaps she would hide under a desk. Into the building, the rescuers ran in search of this young girl. A rescuer eventually found her; she was en route delivering the mail in utter chaos. When asked by her rescuer, “What are you doing?” Her response being simple yet profound, was, “I made a promise to have these delivered today, and I was not finished.” They lifted her and carried her out with no one now left behind. When they got to the street with the rest of the group, she was met with a joyous celebration. She was asked, “Were you scared?” She responded, “Scared to death, but I needed to finish, so I was hurrying.” Astonishment, amazement, and gratitude were on the minds of the observers. Another day’s work with another fall and getting up was on hers.
A servant’s heart, a conviction of fulfilling required tasks, gratitude for opportunities given, and belief in oneself are just the beginning of a life blessed to know this young lady, I am sure. To live a life others only dream of, we need individuals such as this truly unique young lady to continue to lead us by example. Teach us with their hearts and guide them by their understanding. I heard these stories directly from her father, who, while expressing his love toward his daughter, was caught in tears of emotion while sharing. We who could hear felt the value of this life as it touched ours.
Our touch need not be personal in every instance yet strong enough to carry beyond our individual influence into the lives of others. Thank you, Tom, for sharing. Please let your daughter know of her assisting us in bettering our world.