Home courage FULL OUT.


March 27, 2015
Something I really love to do, is write.
Something I am really scared to do, is write.
Well, the danger of writing, as one friend phrased it to me, “is that people READ it.”
Why is that such a problem? Because, people, it totally is. Can I get an amen?
When I was on my mission (I always promised myself that I wouldn’t become one of those people, and start every story that way…. buuuut.) I learned that if we live our whole lives overly-conscious or fearful of the reactions of others, we only experience life in part. I saw investigators make it halfway to the waters of baptism because of the fear. I saw less-active members only make it once or twice back to church because of the fear. I realized myself that I was serving, interacting, and loving with only parts of myself because of fear of what others would think.
I also saw really beautiful miracles, in others and in myself, when we relied on the Lord and let go of the fear. I saw people totally alter their lives. I saw myself and my companions do unimaginably difficult things beautifully with His help and new-found courage.
I’m thinking about this today because last night, I attended the Miss Teen Extraordinaire Pageant in Spanish Fork.
This pageant is a celebration of the real beauty and ability of girls with special needs. It’s a pageant where everyone wins, and everyone is over the moon for each other. My aunt helps with the makeup every year, and since she’s so rad, she invites me along. We fall all over ourselves with delight at the stinking SASS and purity of these cuties.
I’m usually crying by the talent portion, but this year, I only made it to the opening dance number. Contestant number two was bounding back and forth across the stage, unscripted, beaming, while the other girls stood in their line. And the beauty of that sucker-punched me in the FACE, I tell you. She was SO unashamedly happy to be there and be who she is, and the audience was going wild, for her and for everyone.
That kind of courage and ripple-affected joy is a theme for the pageant. The talent portion always has me laughing and crying, as these sassy girls tap to “Singing in the Rain” or as they favor us with six different versions of “Let It Go” or belt “Roar” in a way that puts Katy Perry to shame.
The fearlessness of the whole night inspired me to write today, and to be a little more faithful to the things I learned on my mission. There is a lot of fear involved in swallowing our talents from our very Creator, out of hesitance that they will be deemed unworthy, not enough, lame, etc., by our fellow man. These girls could go full-out, no shame in front of judges and an audience, because I believe their sweet and tender spirits remember who is the real judge. I believe we are privileged to have them here on Earth to remind us.
It doesn’t even occur to these girls to be afraid to belt a song in front of hundreds of people, to dance how they feel right then, to laugh, cry out, give a hug, or anything. They are fearless. I think so much of the judgments we make toward other people arise from fear – fear that they are somehow better than us, competing with us, different than us, etc. And those judgments, whether verbally said or consciously expressed, those fears spill over and take away from our ability to be kind and encouraging to others, and kind and believing in ourSELVES. And really, which is more brave? To hide our talents, to hide our feelings of inadequacy, to nurse unkind thoughts, to distance ourselves from others – or to full-out share ourselves, overcome our fears, reach out to those we struggle with or sometimes compete against?
These girls are fearless. They know who they are. They recognize those around them for their true, beautiful selves. They support whole-heartedly. They love deeply. They live life the way they perform their talents – FULL OUT.
It makes me want to remember the lessons I’ve learned, and be a little more courageous in sharing the talents I’ve been given, FULL out. I makes me want to be a little more open about how much I believe in others, FULL out. As tacky or as corny as it sounds, it makes me want to remember the judge who matters, to remember that just like this pageant, there is a crown and place prepared for each and every one of us. To not do that half the time, or believe in that half-heartedly, but to full-out know and live it consistently. 
And why not courageously, whole-heartedly, joyously pursue that? Seems like a pretty happy way to go.
*Photo Credit: Brittany Dye, cited at the Miss Teen Extraordinaire Facebook page.*
When I look at these girls, I see pure and genuine joy. I also see the Savior. And when I really think about the Savior – how the scriptures so many times cite Him as perfect, I think of the meaning, “complete.” Full-out. I don’t think He never struggled to learn carpentry or never tripped in the street. I don’t think He was necessarily given every talent,  But he was full-out and completely obedient, completely unashamed to do God’s will, and to full-out be who He was and is. How different the world would be if He had lived halfway rather than full-out. I am so grateful! I know that because of Him, we can find the courage to live and give fully, and fulfill the divine purpose of our creation. 🙂 
Thank you for another life-changing night, you sassy ladies. 

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