Days will come when we don’t know which end is up. For some of us, these moments come more than once a day.

When I was ten years old, our family moved. Like every kid experiences at one point or another – new school. On the first day of school, I peddled fast. I had traced the route. I knew the 2.5 mile distance, short-cuts and all. What I did not plan for was morning traffic.

I pulled up to school, mere minutes before the pledge of allegiance started. But, it was a new school! I did not know which line to get in. I panicked. Should I leave my backpack to the side of the lines or, leave it on? I found Mrs. Martin’s 6th Grade line and filed in. Umm. “Which way are we facing?” “What’s proper here???” Everyone looked a little less concerned about the “right” direction, especially the 8th graders, one line over. I adjusted my school uniform, looking right and left. It was clear I did not blend in yet. I was officially the new kid.

Down I went.

Principal Sister Mary Norbert let my mother know I fainted. I later realized I forgot to eat breakfast. I was a tom-boy. The boys thought it was cool and I definitely got points with them for my memorable entrance to the school yard morning pledge and prayer.

Showing up – standing up – is mysterious. Sometimes, it’s a pleasant kind of groundhog’s day, we find comfort in the familiarity. Other times, showing up feels like walking with only one shoe. Irritatingly uncomfortable. “They’re looking at me.” “I don’t fit in.” “They look different than me.”

Today, might be one of the days you decide to call this what it is. I don’t know your story. I know mine includes fear, but it also includes falling stars. And everything in between. Are you exhausted? Did you sleep last night? Is this what you hoped for?

Wear the shoe(s) you’ve got.

Show up to the pledge and jump in any line. Give yourself some grace. Others may not be the first to do so. But, if you give yourself grace, others are likely to follow your lead and do the same for you and for themselves. This grace domino changes families, neighborhoods, countries. Nowhere in the LIFE INSTRUCTION MANUAL does it say, “Perfection is the standard” or, “No mistakes allowed.” I pledge allegiance to wobbly first days. I pledge allegiance to laughing at myself with my friends. I pledge allegiance to breakfast because there are miles to go before I sleep.

When our excuses fade out, results trickle in. So show up. For any challenge facing us today, I wonder what would happen if we show up, fall down, stand back up, then tell someone else about what we overcame. It’s in this sequence: courage > courage > courage > courage that we change; here shame is starved of oxygen.

We keep going.

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