Under The Oaks
Growing up, we lived on a small piece of property in the perfect little rural neighborhood. Our driveway was flanked by two strong oak trees. My parents planted them when they moved to the land, and they quickly grew to be distinguished markers of our front yard.
It was under these oaks that I can remember all of my childhood dreams coming to life. My daddy rode me in circles on our horse around these trees, my legs hardly long enough for my feet to reach the stirrups. And after my daddy went to heaven, it was under those same trees that I let my imagination run wild. I was a princess of a faraway land that had been somehow adopted. I became the characters of my favorite books. I was the planner of the social event of the season, collecting acorns as confetti. I was the searcher of four leaf clovers in an endless bed of green. I was destined to marry Prince William. I was certain I would change the world.
I grew older and spent less time under those oaks. Over the years, life and logic slowly crept their way in and began to dull the luster of my limitless imaginings.
I began to worry more about things like responsibility and practicality and appearances and comparison. I began to believe that perhaps the window of opportunity for my story was closed. I began to make peace with a complacent life.
Then something started to shift. That little girl, the dreamer, the one who believed in the beauty of unabandoned possibility– she was still tucked somewhere deep inside.
Standing here at the edge of a new year, I am brought back to a moment in November. It was there at a writer’s conference that the King of Whimsy and Dreaming Big, Bob Goff, showed us a clip from a movie with this quote, “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.”
“What will you do with it? What will your 20 seconds of courage be?” he asked.
He asked each of us to stand. So many tears fell as the vulnerability of declarations of insane courage were made around the room. And then it was my turn. “For so long, I have believed that my story wasn’t important. I want to believe that my story matters. I wrote this morning that I believe sometimes God only releases His greatest blessings when we choose to step into them. I want to go home and step into the blessing.”
How kind is God to weave every thread of my tapestry together again? Because in the last bit of this year, He brought me back under The Oaks. This time a providential retreat center in Southern California where He took my hand and allowed me to dream again. He even saw fit to allow a horseback ride there. And somewhere on a property flanked with dozens of mighty oak trees and horses and whimsy, He whispered into my heart and breathed life back into the wonder of a little girl’s soul.
For the last five years, and many even before that, I have been wrestling with God for the blessing. I have been fighting my way through things that have been knotted in my soul for a very long time. But I want this to be the year that I choose to step into the blessing.
This is the year.
What about you? What will you do with your 20 seconds of courage? The year is new, the slate is clean, the possibilities are endless. I’m cheering for you.