The summer after I graduated college I packed up my tiny car and moved from New York to Georgia. I had sixty dollars and the promise of a friend’s couch to sleep on.
It didn’t take long for me to get a job and I was so excited to get my first paycheck. That was until I went to the bank to open a checking account. The person who helped me explained that I couldn’t get an account because my credit was awful. Yes, I was fresh out of college, with loads of debt, and a not-so- great history of handling money but I had a check, a big one, and I just wanted to pay my bills. I couldn’t understand why I needed good credit to give them my money.
I called my mom as soon as I could and told her what happened. She empathized and joined my pity party. When I got off the phone with her, I felt worse than I did before I spoke with her.
Then I called a dear friend. I relayed the entire story to him. His response was not what I expected. He started laughing at me. He said, “Now we are going to find out what you are made of!” He continued to say I had a choice to make. I could either give up or go to every bank in the area until I found one that was willing to give me an account. Even though I was furious, his words were exactly what I needed to get back out there and do what I needed to do, find a bank to deposit my money in.
At a young age, kids learn whether or not quitting pays off.
Recently my teen daughter faced a difficult situation that caused her tremendous anxiety. She was trying something new, and while she was enthusiastic about it at first, she was filled with fear as the event approached. I tried to convince her that everything was going to be okay and that she would be fine. But she didn’t believe me.
She wanted to quit, not show up. She cried; we hugged. I cried too because I sympathized with her and it broke my heart to see her want to give up on herself. Then I remembered the words of my friend,
Now we are going to find out what you are made of!
I knew I if I let my daughter quit it would only get harder for her to face her fears and do uncomfortable things. She needed to experience what it was like to meet something hard and push through it. If she didn’t, she’d get stuck and wouldn’t grow emotionally.
When it comes to overcoming obstacles and facing fears, Bethany Hamilton is an inspiration for my daughter and people the world over. As a teenager, Bethany lost her left arm to a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing. She eventually returned to the water, and within two years won her first national title. She had every reason to give up and quit surfing all together, but she didn’t.
In her latest book, Be Unstoppable, Bethany brings her passions of world-class surfing alongside her desire to empower young women to never give up. This book includes sixty breathtaking photos from the making of her new documentary, Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable. Through its words and pictures it teaches readers to be bold, enjoy life, and be the best they can be.
As I sat and watched my daughter cry, I had a choice to make. Would I swoop in, fix her problem, and let her quit; or would I echo the challenge extended to me all those years ago?
With all the courage I could muster I told my precious girl that she needed to push through her fear and honor her commitment. I reassured her again that she would get through it. I second-guessed my decision numerous times that day but in the end I knew I made the right decision. It wasn’t easy, but my sweet daughter survived. And she is better for it.
Do you have a child in preschool? Bethany and her husband Adam Dirks have written an adorable picture book called Unstoppable Me that tells the story of Makana the lion, who loves to surf but loses her nerve when she wipes out. At a young age, kids can learn that they can trust God as they face their fears and persevere.
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What fears have your children overcome? How have you helped them face their fears? We’d love to hear you thoughts and stories in the comments!