The Risk That Didn’t Kill Me: A Childhood Reflection on Speaking Up

Faith Family Grace Strength

From where I stand, the pit where we burn trash before it became illegal, looks like a huge crater graced in ash. My male cousins are both younger than I am but I have the farthest to overcome in a culture that believes my cousins are more capable than I. The boys are allowed to ride the mini motorcycle and I am not. “I’m going to ride the motorcycle into the pozo (pit). And I’m going to do it with my eyes closed.” I’m serious and my cousins know it. I’m ten.

My cousins let out a laugh that fills the air and dangles off the mala mujeres (Texas bull nettles) surrounding us. “You’re gonna get in trouble, Caroline.” My cousins call me by my English name because they haven’t quite mastered our indigenous identity. It’s easier to lazily plug an “e” than it is to whip out an “a” that soothes the end of a name like grandma’s olive oil remedy to cure the susto (scare) out of us.

“Gimme the motorcycle.” I’m serious and I’m going for it. Come what may, I hop on. My knobby, ashy knees clink against the engine and my feet are tucked into my white leather Keds. Dirt finds its way into the shoelace holes and it feels like perhaps I’m riding on the moon.

I crank the engine, pull the handlebar back to rev it up and bring my left foot to the pedal. My body jerks back and I quickly lean forward. My nose nearly touches the handlebars. I ride as fast as I can around the hole. I never take into account the one branch that is stubbornly peeking out.

The back tire catches on it and I am thrown off of the motorcycle. The back of my leg twists and catches on the branch like a piece of cloth ripped from its seem. A thin gash extends from the back of my knee to my bottom. Bright blood begins to erupt as if finally being set free from caged skin. It stings and I too feel set free.

“Grandma is gonna kill you!” Peter is mortified and wants to help patch it up. Hunched over on the ground, Junie laughs so hard I think he’s going to puke.

“We’re not gonna tell her,” I smile and am proud at my newfound love of motorcycles and a rebellious gash to prove my entrance into the world of cousinhood. 

We don’t tell grandma. Peter, a 5-year-old sage, is eaten alive at not telling. He’s afraid of infection, or worse, pain. Junie is a 4-year-old wise guy and threatens to tell if I don’t share cereal, sweets, or my time on the trampoline with him. I give in until the wound heals. Grandma never notices because I wear my pants often.

I walk a little more proud, a little less beaten by the lie that I am just a girl. I dust off the lie that tells me I can’t exist in this space. I feel seen. I feel heard.


Now, I’m nearly 40 years old and that moment still makes me laugh and it makes me proud. Not that I lied to my grandma, but that I took a risk no matter the consequences and those consequences did not kill me.

As a mother, wife, and daughter, taking risks doesn’t come easy. I’m usually tethered to the lie that I will fail. Lately, centering myself to the fact that I am fearfully and wonderfully made is enough gravitas to push me forward. No matter the consequences. I remember that 10-year-old girl who hopped on a motorcycle and the world be damned.

While I am a daughter of the Most High, I am also the mother of two queens who look to me for their strength.

Is there a situation calling you to take a risk? Do you feel ill-equipped to move forward? This might be your time to take that new job. It might be the time to jump into conversations that are absent of your voice. This might be a time to create space where you have been intentionally left out. This may be a time to bring something to light that has not otherwise been illuminated. You can, friend.

Remember when taking risks to:

  1. Consider the consequences.
  2. Be willing to expect the unexpected.
  3. Be confident in your decision to move forward.
  4. Some risks are not tied up neatly with a bow. Give yourself grace.
  5. The strength to move forward is from the Almighty. Give thanks.
  6. Don’t tie yourself to the lie that you will fail.

What area of your life is calling you take a risk to be seen? I support you, friend. God bless.

*Do not take risks that endanger your life or the lives of others.

Cover photo credit: Photo by Alexa Wirth on Unsplash