Courage as Big as a Baby’s Finger

I’m about to throw down a metaphor here, and I’m going to ask you to go with me on this.

Newborn babies have tiny fingers, but on those tiny fingers they can have long fingernails. Shockingly long, in the case of my daughter, 11 plus years ago. Howards Hughes after a particularly lengthy shut-in long. It’s not the kind of thing you think about, but while they’re in utero, growing all that hair, and skin, they’re also growing nails, and there’s no in-utero elf to help keep things in check until they emerge and you can take over.

On the second night Dorothy was home, I trimmed her nails. I didn’t want to, but they were. So. Long. She was scratching me, but, worse that that, she was scratching herself. Each little finger, so small, not even the length of a matchstick, skinny, and plump at the same time. Each digit so delicate yet destructive, leaving little wounded dashes across her face when she moved around in her sleep.

I was at the second to last finger when I nicked her. The baby-ring finger. Nerves, and almost-relief at being done made me hasty. It happened in an instant. In the scheme of a life, it was a tiny thing, an itty-bitty wound. There was a fairy-size droplet of blood, and that was it. Teeny-tiny.

She howled the way you do when you experience pain, but have absolutely no relationship to cognizant thought. Harsh, brutal whailing, without remorse or pause. Because, yes, it was tiny, but, to be fair, it was the most pain she’d experienced in her life to that point, besides the being born itself that had just taken place.

I cried, too. Mine was more the lasting meek weepiness of my first true parental guilt compounded by my lack of sleep, and the fact I was still recovering from recently producing a person. Unlike baby-brain Dorothy, I could have all the thoughts, and did. She was calm, and feeling better long before I stopped leaking little tears of horror, and guilt. I had nicked my baby. What kind of human was I?

Well, 11-years-later-me has a grip and I can tell you: I was a human practicing good hygiene, for the first time, with her child. I was an anxious woman, too, afraid of getting it wrong. I was clumsy. And I was the onlyone available for the job.

Writing about Psalm 73 a couple days ago feels a lot like that to me. Important, necessary, and nerve-wracking, and all in my little world. There are small differences, you could argue. Children must have their nails trimmed, but you don’t have to write or write about God. or write and put it out in the world, on the internet. I mean, maybe?

But sometimes you do have to write about things. Some of us, it just bubbles, and bubbles, until you do something about it. At least for me this is true. I bet this applies to other people, too, about painting. Or photography Or, Lord help us all, running. A desire so deep it grows and grows until you Do. It. Or it makes you a little crazy. If you fight it, you can get weird, and unpleasant to be around, and, in my experience, eat cake out of the pan with a fork to calm down all the scary feelings that come up with this particular desire. (I’m guessing, runners don’t do the last thing. Personally, I couldn’t speak to that particular struggle.)

Dissecting that psalm happened so naturally. I read it, and, while I was still in the moment with the squirrel and the Word, I was writing it down. Afterwards, I think around mid-day the next day, I felt a little jolt, and a “what the HECK are you thinking?” voice in my head.

I’ve been following and loving Jesus for a hot minute now. That’s all I’ve got. I have zero Biblical training, or education. I don’t even have years of tuning out folks who have biblical training. Why in the world do I think I get to write about psalms, and speak into the Bible, and also was there an actual squirrel involved?

Except, I don’t know, I did it anyway. I didn’t want to cut Dorothy’s teeny-tiny nails, but I was the only person around equipped to do it. So often I don’t want to write, but I have all these writer-things in my head, and I’m the only person around equipped to get them out of me. Lately, so many of these writer-things are about Jesus, because, it turns out, He’s pretty much the ultimate hero, lover of all people, and butt-kicker of evil in the world, and all good things do come from Him (and see, right that was a scripture reference too, from Psalm 16, and I used it. Not. Afraid) and that’s what I’m thinking about and that’s what I like talking about.

This is my nudge-nudge post, to myself and anyone who might stumble across it, and needs a boost. The courage you need to do whatever that thing inside you is? It’s the same amount of courage you need to clip a baby’s fingernails. Don’t have one of those? How about clip a dog’s nails? (However, if you’re clipping a dog’s nails, I’ll be praying for you. Dogs are way worse than babies when they get cut, with their big, mournful, “I thought you loved me” dog eyes. Talk about giving some grief. Babies just get mad. Much simpler.) It’s the same amount of courage you needed to apply to that school, or send that text. There’s something in your life you’ve already done that took just a modicum of courage. You were the only one who could do it, and you did it, even when you didn’t think you were ready.

That’s it.

We- well, for clarity’s sake – I make it out to be So. Much. It’s been the be-all-end-all for me so long, to write actual words and then share them with people. Just as hard has been to look at other grown-up people I’ve known for some time now, and say, “I believe Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. Did I not mention that…?” Taking the writing and Jesus and putting them into one blog? Hold onto your bobby socks.

And honestly, I’m just wearing myself out with it. The hubbub’s finally become more tiring than the just saying it already.

Dorothy, as an 11 year old, isn’t like that. She gets an idea for a story, and says, “Where’s a pen? Mommy, I’ll narrate, and you write. I might make this a series, if I decide to publish.”

Does that sound like you? This post’s not for you.

But we aren’t all like Dorothy. For y’all who take after my side of the family, and find a small blog on the world wide webs intimidating or whatever your version of that may be, I’m saying – we can do it. We can dig in a little, and do that tiny/gargantuan thing that’s wanting so badly to be done. Go past the point of believing it to be optional and make it necessary. Eleven years ago, I had to clip those baby nails. Three days ago, I had to write about Psalm 73 and what it was speaking into my life. Plus, most of us know, if we don’t follow where we’re called, then we’re led to no-good. Scratched up baby faces, and sheet pans of cake. With a fork.

Baby nails, blogs, local art contests, singing at karaoke night, whatever you might be facing down – this is important to your particular piece of beautiful life here on our beautiful earth. Possibly small, maybe inconsequential, and definitely crucial to you. What more do you need to know to go for it? Get the clippers, and hold that baby’s hand. If you draw blood, it’s going to be OK. You’re going to make it. And then you’re going to look around and say, “Look what I just did!” Because you got a little piece of courage going, and because you knew it needed to be done, and most importantly, because you were the one single person equipped to do just that thing.

Well done, you.

Any small, but momentous jumps you’ve made lately, you’d be willing to share? Post below! We’d love to hear them.

Published by Ms E

This is a place for new beginnings. Because new is not easy and beginning is hard. So here we tackle it the same way we eat the elephant... Wife, mother, writer, eater, cooker, farmer, daughter, home-owner, dog-carer, reader, professional list-maker. Part-time worrier. Full-time believer.

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