One thing I loved about teaching was having a classroom full of so many different students who all had their own special personalities and creations for their assignments.
It gave me a small glimpse of the magnitude of the unique beauty that spans the world.
I got to spend some time with my sweet niece over the weekend, and I hadn’t seen her in a little while, so we had some catching up to do. She’s a little more than 9 months old now, but she’s still unsure of that whole crawling thing.
I get it. Sometimes you simply have to take your time.
I had brought a birthday present for my sister-in-law, and because wrapping gifts is not my thing, there was plenty of the tissue paper that I had stuffed in the gift bag—and this immediately caught Olivia’s attention. We started trying to get her to crawl toward it, and she would lean and lean and lean and then kind of fall forward but not actually crawl. I tried again later right before I left, and she was so close to crawling, but it just didn’t happen. And then my brother said something that really stuck with me.
It’s going to have to happen on her terms.
And he’s right—Olivia is going to crawl when she’s ready to crawl. I can encourage her and try to entice her with purple tissue paper as much as I want, but I can’t force her to get moving. It’s a decision she has to make on her own.
I think a lot of us are like Olivia in certain ways. I know there have been situations I’ve faced when I was hesitant to do something simply because I wasn’t quite ready yet. I let it happen on my own terms. I’ve mentioned quite a few times before that I used to be really afraid to let guys know when I had feelings for them. I feel like I’m a lot bolder in that area than I used to be, but it took a really long time for that to happen. Like little Olivia, back then I needed more time before I was sure taking such a huge leap was a good idea.
We’re all so different, and that’s not a bad thing. There are more than 7 billion people in this world—more than 7 billion unique personalities and hearts that need genuine love. And sometimes things have to happen in our lives on our own terms rather than those of the people around us or those that are considered the norm by most of society.
I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 27 (that’s another story in itself), which I realize seems pretty late in life for something like that to happen. But, as you know, I’ve never actually been in a relationship or really dated anyone, so it’s not like the kissing opportunities were abundant. I still needed it to happen on my own terms, though. I had just poured my heart out to a guy I really cared about, and he kissed me. Obviously it didn’t end up working out, which hurt for a while, but that’s alright—it’s another chapter in the story that’s unique to me.
And you have your own unique story, too.
God has different plans for all of us, and your story isn’t going to look like mine or your best friend’s or that seemingly perfect celebrity or any of those other 7+ billion people out there. It’s going to be yours, and it’s going to be special. For me, I want my terms to be His terms, because then I know it’s right.
I’ve had to remind myself of that a lot lately. If you had talked to me when I was a teenager or in college or even fresh out of college, I would have told you that I’d definitely be married by the time I was 30. I’m 32, and that’s not the case. With most of the people around me in serious relationships or married or already with families, it’s easy to start to feel like I’m so far behind. But then I remember that I’m not like all of my friends and family members. For some reason, I’m supposed to be in this stage right now until, if ever at all, I’m ready to be in a different one.
I think we all go through different times in life when we feel like we’re crawling or barely crawling or maybe not even moving at all. We’re reaching for so many things that seem so far, and it almost feels hopeless that we’ll ever actually get there. It’s during these times that I start singing one of my all-time favorite songs: Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On.” If you can hold on for one more day—and maybe you have to retell yourself that multiple days in a row—then things will eventually get better. You’ll reach the point when that barely crawl turns into a real crawl, which turns into a walk, which turns into dancing or running or soaring or whatever makes you feel brave.
I’ll be ready to cheer for sweet Olivia whenever she’s ready to crawl and walk and talk and do all of the other growing-up things babies do. And I’ll let them all happen on her terms as she continues to live out her own beautiful story, and I’ll appreciate her for simply being her.
Because we all need love and grace for just showing up and taking on each day.