This I Believe

Lauren - Florence, Alabama
Entered on May 7, 2007

I believe in the power of learning. Not the monotonous repetition of facts and figures I have experienced in my sixteen years of schooling, but the kind of learning that refreshes your soul and leaves you trembling inside. Throughout my life I have discovered that the opportunity for this kind of life-changing learning exposes itself everyday. If I remain open, it finds me, sometimes in the most unusual and unexpected circumstances. In fact, I have learned some of life’s most important lessons from my little sister.

Shoving a purple Popsicle under my nose my sister began to scream “Bite”. “Mmm” I said smacking my lips and pretending to slurp the grape flavored treat. “No” she continued to cry frantically waving the Popsicle in my face until the sweet juice covered both of us in a sticky mess and created tiny purple pools all over the floor. “Bite”! Rolling my eyes I bent down and took a giant-sized bite. “Thank you” I mumbled trying to force a smile. “You are welcome” she squealed bouncing up and down; her blonde curls swirling like a halo around her head. Chuckling to myself I realized that this single act of giving meant more to her at that moment than anything in the world. At three years old Whitney taught me about charity.

My second valuable lesson came several years later on a lazy fall afternoon. As I arrived home from school I noticed my sister running through the yard wild-eyed and clearly preoccupied with some pretend world. This was not unusual. Whitney was nine years old and spent majority of her time outside. Stopping to watch her play I noticed a small object tucked delicately underneath her arm. As I lingered longer I saw her repeatedly turn her head toward the object, whisper, and then continue playing. I crept closer to her and froze in shock. Tucked under my baby sister’s arm was the ugliest animal that ever existed. It was missing small patches of it’s black and gray fur and it’s multi-colored eyes were slightly crossed. Only when it began hissing violently did I realize that it was a cat. “Isn’t he beautiful” my sister said, beaming like a proud mother. “No” I replied, “He is not beautiful and I will not live in a house with some ugly, filthy animal.” “He is not ugly”, she insisted growing louder with every word. “He is beautiful and I love him.” Needless to say we took in the cat and many other equally horrible looking animals over the years, each one special and equally beautiful to my sister. She doesn’t see ugly anywhere, and on that fall day my sister taught me to see that beauty exists inside everyone.

My sister continues to teach me every day. When I want to give up, she teaches me to believe in myself. When I think all is lost, she teaches me to have faith, and when I feel like I am going nowhere, she teaches me that life has a bigger plan for me than I will ever know. Ultimately she has taught me that I have a lot left to learn and I look forward to all of life has in store for me, no matter where the lessons may come from.