permission granted


She eyes me curiously and somewhat apprehensively. She anticipates, already at three, a response that will tame her wild. The question being posed in this particular moment includes a leap, a risk, a lessening of safety.

But the light in her eyes when she hears 'yes,' perhaps proves worth the risk.

There's a saying here in Scandinavian countries that 'children need a five foot tree.' Four feet and it wouldn't be much of a challenge. Six and the risk of breaking something a bit too great, but five? Five poses risk. The height guarantees bruises and scrapes, but rarely broken bones. Five feet gives enough distance from the ground to make us free.

My whole life I've been on the lookout for my five foot tree. After enough 'no's the trees all start to  look ten feet tall. I get timid. I start believing that perhaps the reason for a closed door is because I'm not able. I'm not enough. If I can't handle that five foot tree over here, my fears tell me, how could I ever manage even the four? So I subconsciously stop climbing, stop looking for trees at all.

I see kids dangle and hang off park equipment and walk alone and feel all sorts of brave. I'm beginning to see as my own children attempt to take risks. I'm discovering, if I'm willing to discover, that beauty so often lies in the risk.

I so often season my "no" with reasons of why my children shouldn't. I try to explain so thoroughly, and it's sound logic.

But, at what point, dear mother, will the skinned knee be worth it? When will my mama heart be okay with the risk? With the tears? With the broken heart?

She won't. She won't ever be okay with it.

But, she can be brave. I can choose wisdom over my fears. I can choose to walk in my hopes rather than the possibilities of failure. I can choose to say "go for it!" and hold the "but be careful!"
Even when I know that my doing so increases the probability of tears. My children will fall. They will fail. I will fall. I will fail.

While I hope my children are never reckless, I do know for certain that the only proper way to learn to climb a tree is with two hands and two feet,

with enough space to fall.

So, I'll let her dirty nailed hands climb. I'll hold my breath and let it out slowly and remind myself of this 'five foot tree.' I'll cheer out loud and remind her of how able she is. I'll parade her accomplishments to her dad when he gets home and I'll laugh when my son, seconds before, is now making the same attempts that caused him pain. I'll praise God for bodies that heal, and for hearts that can be mended. I'll teach my kids to find the trees they can climb. To be brave, and wise. I'll speak to them the truth: that it really is okay to fall.

When my own fears come and I feel too small and I look to the skies for permission, I think I know what I'll hear.

He reminds me that I'm learning to climb,

that he has made me able,

and that he isn't afraid. He heals broken bones and he raises up dead. So if I fall? If I fail?

It really is okay to fall.

Permission granted.

Perhaps in our climbing, we'll begin to grow. Perhaps as our muscles gain and our legs and arms stretch strong, we'll begin to see sights a long way off. Trees more beautiful. Then, we'll feel permission to dream wild crazy things- dreams that only hands and feet that have climbed many trees could ever seize.

Then we'll be brave because we've fallen but we keep climbing. We now know, it really is okay to fall.

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