[Image description: Photo is of distant exploding orange and gold fireworks.]
Picture me at age four. It’s the fourth of July. I’m at an Independence Day celebration at the local megachurch. I’ve been so excited to see the fireworks. But when I actually see them, loud and bright and technicolor, I’m terrified. When I look up, they’re so close that it feels as if they’re coming down on me like fiery rain. After a few minutes trying to tolerate it, I cut and run, bolting across the field to my dad’s car. And my dad? He’s running with me, not after me. He isn’t mad at me for being scared. After that, we admire the fireworks from a distance.
Even now, over two decades later, I prefer to keep my distance from fireworks and sparklers. They’re beautiful, but when I’m too close, my fear of injury and sense of “overwhelm” make me unable to enjoy their beauty. I stand a little farther back from them than most people. And that’s okay. In my life, there are shows, events, relationship styles, people, and activities that I prefer to admire from afar. That’s the best way for me to enjoy them. It doesn’t make me a coward. It doesn’t mean that I don’t respect those who choose differently–quite the contrary. It doesn’t mean that I’ll never change my mind. It does mean that I know what I need right now (like when I needed to get away from those fireworks right then). And it feels good to know that the caring people in my life respect that.