Like many people all around the world, I currently have Olympic fever. Whenever I can, my television and computer are attuned to the Olympics. I have many games I particularly enjoy, but my favorite by far is the synchronized diving. Growing up, I always imagined winning a gold medal for this Olympic game. Those who know me understand just how laughable this dream truly is. Although I can swim, I have never been a big fan of the diving board. I much prefer sedately walking down the steps into the swimming pool. Climbing ridiculous heights, only to jump head-first into deep water, is not my idea of a good time. Yet even my preference to remain in the pool and not above it couldn't stop me from pretending I was an Olympian with my friends whenever the Olympic season rolled around. Unfortunately, pretending is the only thing I did. My friends and I were no more Olympians than the majority of people in this country.
I've always been fascinated with history. Although I'm not sure why, history has always been one of my favorite subjects. I suppose it's because I see the people behind the history lesson. Whenever I hear of noble men like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and their numerous accomplishments, I imagine what they thought, felt, and experienced. History is more than a story to me; it's about the people who lived in difficult times, yet didn't allow their circumstances to break their spirits.
Of all the eras, the period which has always captured my attention has been World War II. In my opinion, World War II is one of the most horrific times man has ever lived through, but despite the magnitude of suffering, some of the greatest acts of kindness, love, and sacrifice occurred during the war. One of the women I most admire lived through this horrible war.
Because I'm a college graduate, I have taken many classes over the course of my life. From Hermeneutics to American Literature, I've taken part in a number of courses, but the class which ranks first in my list of all-time most interesting classes would have to be my hugging class.
As crazy as this sounds, I did have to take a hugging class; it was a job requirement for the children's home where I worked. The reason for this is because the majority of people do not know how to properly hug. There's the side hug, the pat-on-the-back hug, the squeeze-the-stuffing-out-of-a-person hug, the won't-let-you-go hug, and the if-this-is-really-necessary hug. All of these hugs send negative subliminal messages. A good hug makes a person feel safe, secure, loved, and cherished. It lets a person know someone cares about him.
In October 2011, I had the rare privilege of being allowed to ride an elephant. Yes, you read this correctly. I actually climbed on an adult elephant's back and rode her. Although it was an odd combination of rocking back and forth and up and down, it was by far one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. The elephant was gentle, yet playful. Even though she was massive, I never feared she would harm me. I suppose this is because she had been raised in captivity. Chances are, she had Circus Elephant Syndrome.
If you've ever been to the circus, there's a good chance you've seen an elephant tied with a chain to a stake in the ground. The elephant is so large, she could easily break free, yet she never tries. The reason for this is because when she was tied to the stake as a baby, she did try to escape. Unfortunately, as a baby, she wasn't strong enough to break free, and the chain and metal collar physically wounded her. Because of this, the elephant stopped trying to escape. As the elephant grew older, she didn't forget the pain she endured as a child; therefore, she was held captive by the memory of being hurt.
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Erin Elizabeth Austin is a writer and speaker with a passion to help people find healing in the midst of their brokenness.
Josie Siler, like millions of others, is living with chronic illness. She is eager to share the hope and joy that she has found in Christ, whether that is in a church, at a women’s retreat, over a cup of hot cocoa, or through a blog post.