It was a balmy Fall day in Budapest, Hungary. Cars whizzed by my kitchen window, up and down the hill in the neighborhood known as Gazdagret. My youngest son, nearly two, napped in the early afternoon.
My phone rang. It was my oldest son’s iskola teacher, Aniko. She told me that they were getting ready to go to their, regular, jégkorcsolyázás, or ice skating, class and my son did not have his necessary winter clothes. My heart skipped a beat as I thought of the fleece-lined pants, coat, hat and gloves sitting in our entry way.
All I could think about was how brave my son had been since starting Hungarian primary school in early September. He spent long days completely immersed in Hungarian while having the courage to try new foods at lunch, play foci, or soccer, after school, learn cursive writing, and do his homework with his teachers after class.
He had been so so brave and now, so must I be brave.
I had no time to change, do make-up or hair. They were leaving. I had to get to his school at the top of the hill and I had to get there now.
I grabbed his ice skating clothes and left our flat, carefully locking the door. Thankfully, my youngest had about two more hours of his nap and couldn’t yet climb out of the crib if he did awake. At the rate I planned to truck up the hill, I’d be gone only a short amount of time.
“Truck up the hill” is a good way to describe what ensued. My husband had our car so driving wasn’t an option. There was a bus that went up the hill, but it wouldn’t come soon enough. I looked at my fluorescent t-shirt, khaki shorts and flip flops and realized I just needed to go for it.
I crossed the street and found the inner walkway which went almost directly to my son’s school. I began to run on this warmish, yet still, fall day. I ran by pedestrians with dark colors, dressed as ‘normal’ people dress in Budapest on fall days, with their coats and scarves.
I ran and I ran. I ignored the looks at my bizarre attire and wild running ways. I had to get my son what he needed, and by golly, I would!
Finally, completely out of breath, I made it to the school. I ran to the entrance, spoke something in broken Hungarian to the security guard and reached the receptionist. Thankfully, his classroom was close. But when I got there, they were gone. Gone! Noooo!
I frantically asked where they were, finding out they were in the bus outside. So I hurriedly began to run again, locating the huge passenger bus leaving the parking lot. Leaving the parking lot!
Having lost all sense at this point, I started to run straight toward the moving bus, waving my arms up and down, up and down like rapid windshield wipers. Thankfully, I got the driver’s attention. I came to the door of the bus and saw my son’s teacher coming down the steps. I handed her the priceless flimsy grocery bag full of clothes and remembered to step aside as the bus continued its intended exit of the parking lot.
The ensuing sigh of relief was both real and comical and inspiring? Yes, that’s exactly how I felt. Inspired. I had just done twenty things or more I had been timid to do before, in my life in Budapest. I’d stuck out like a fluorescent chirping canary all up the streets of Gazadgret and in Csikihegy Iskola. And I’d done it without a second thought, because my son needed me.
I don’t need to tell anyone who has lived overseas, how hard it can be. I, especially, struggled to fit in, or at least appear competent, as a mother. But, on this day, fitting in was the least of my thoughts. My son needed something, and that something was me. He needed me to be brave for him, and, for once, it was the most natural thing to be.
So, I am offering you that same bravery today. You can do this life you are called to. You can be comfortable in your own skin and live the kind of way that uniquely meets the needs of another. You can be like Jesus, and not fit into the crowd, because you are infinitely loved and there is a whole, wide, broken world in need of that same love.