One Spring-like Winter Afternoon at the Playground...
I have two daughters. They are 6 and 3 years old. My younger daughter is afraid of dogs, just as her sister was at this age. One time we went to the playground. The athletic field there is bordered by residential houses and backyards. From behind a fence came a ferocious-sounding bark. Natalie ran to me in fear, even younger than she is now, and as I lifted her into my arms, she asked, wide-eyed, "Is it a dog, or a giraffe?"
Skip forward to today. We were back at the same playground, taking advantage of natural Vitamin D on an astoundingly gorgeous February day. A man and a woman were at the playground with two large dogs. They began to run closer to us so I called for Natalie to come to me, as I knew she would be terrified of the dogs. I again lifted her into my arms and held her close.
Natalie: "Why do they have dogs?"
Me: "They like dogs."
Natalie: Well, I don't."
Me: "I know you don't. But someday you might."
Natalie, breaking into a huge smile: "When I'm a big girl? And I'll say, 'Look, Mommy! A dog's coming! I LOVE DOGS!!'"
It occurred to me that we could all take a lesson from my little 3 year-old. So often we think that fear is permanent; that things that seem unchanging can't be altered. But sometimes, with time and personal growth, fear dissipates into understanding, and then maybe even joy.
Perhaps real courage is being open to change, and to looking fear in the face and asking, "Are you a dog or a giraffe?"
What are you afraid of?