one million words

find your voice. tell your story.

The bravest question ever

“You can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability.”

[Brene Brown]

I am a self protection expert, fondly attached to my comfort zone. Life has way of making space for vulnerability though. I resist it, hold tight to the last bit of control. But brave girls, I hear, show up fully and allow themselves to be seen.Brave girls will cross your path, crash into your comfort, leaving nothing the same.

I see her now, the brave girl crossing my path when I am 8. We meet at a church picnic, she is 12. My father, who loves nothing more than a mingling of old and new faces invites her along to spend an afternoon with our family. Just for fun. Be especially nice to her, dad instructs, she does not have any parents. We eat watermelon, run barefoot through grass, play summer games. Then we leave. We are shoulder to shoulder in our tiny old car, no seat belts. My new friend is silly, pretends to be a reporter. Rolling up a piece of paper as a microphone, she playfully interviews my parents. What’s your favorite color? Dessert? Hobby? My dad happily plays along. We are almost home, might not see her again. One last question. Go for it! A small pause, clearing of the throat. Our little reporter has playfully skipped all the way to the edge. We’re deeply stuck in comfort while she decides to leap:

“You adopted this boy,” she points to my brother, “Would you also… adopt me?”

The question hits hard. We are not short on words in our family but these words cut deep into our own speechlessness, aversion of vulnerability.  We are nice people who invite strangers to picnics and tell funny stories. But we haven’t yet learned how to wrap words around our deepest desires and hold them up high. But this girl….is fearless and bold, brilliantly brave. And how exactly do you respond to that?

My parents know her story of loss. Her father commits suicide, a year ago. Last christmas eve, her mother slips out of their apartment, quietly ends her own life. Leaving behind her daughter to care for herself. She empties her piggy bank to buy bread. Days later her eyes scan the newspaper. A police reports highlights a familiar face. It’s her mother. Officially without parents she now resides in an orphanage despite her pleas she can care for herself just fine. Sometimes her grandmother visits or takes her home for the weekend. Todays she is with us, asking the question:

“You adopted this boy, would you also… adopt me?”

The question lingers, each word burned deep in my parents memory. What to say next? Explain we don’t make major decision on the road, a paper microphone under our nose? My parents promise to help her find a family. Brave girl knows she’s already found one. She is just waiting for us to find our own bit of courage. And we do.

A few months later, our brave reporter moves next door to my room, becoming my sister.

I think of my sister’s courage in my own wimpy moments. She has taught me three things I hope I never forget.

1. Brave girls know what they need and ask for it.

2. Brave girls don’t allow their past stories to define their future dreams.

3. Brave girls receive simply because they ask.

I am flying home to Germany in a couple of weeks. I’ll get to meet my new niece and nephew for the first time. I just may roll up a paper, hold it out brave and say: Hi! I am your aunt. Wanna play?

chrissy Foto 1-2


17 Replies

  1. So stinkin beautiful…totally speechless. Thank you for sharing this. Truly, thank you.

    1. Astrid Melton

      Thanks, Kaitlyn.

  2. Tara

    Woah! Brave girl for the win! So inspirational.

    I am currently summoning all the bravery I can to ask for something. The thing is, just like brave girl, I know the community I ask will say yes. It’s just this internal process of coming to believe that I’m worthy of their time and that I am allowed, even expected, to ask for what I need. And to trust for embrace and assistance when I do.

    I think the hardest part is the fact that in order to ask for what I need, I have to be vulnerable and admit what I’ve been trying so hard to deny and push down in my mind and spirit. I need my inner brave girl to show up right about now. Maybe it would help if I rolled up some paper as a microphone when I ask? 😉

    Thanks Astrid.

    1. Astrid Melton

      Yes- paper microphones hold magic! Proud of you. xoxox

  3. Oh, Astrid! THIS! I can’t even come up with the words, because this is so beautiful. My heart stopped at The Reporter’s question of, “You adopted this boy, would you also… adopt me?”…. WOW! What an incredible family you come from… I’m…. still speechless. Just, wow. Thank you for sharing this! Love and prayers to you, Astrid! #livefree

    1. Astrid Melton

      Thanks. The girl has some serious guts but really we are just ordinary people, trying to be brave.

  4. Thank you for starting to share. There is power in these words! and you lived them, which makes them even more powerful.! Keep it up..and lots of hugs!

    1. Astrid Melton

      Thanks Voni.

  5. This moved me to tears. Thank you for writing this!!

  6. So many times we do know exactly what we need and we need the bravery of a child to remind us it’s ok to ask! To ask others and I can see this in my prayer life, it’s ok to ask bravely! Thank you, the story touches! #livefree

  7. Oh Astrid, what a beautiful story of your sister entering your family. Great illustration of “Brave”! Thanks for always inspiring me with your words sweet friend!

  8. Shawna

    Thanks for posting to facebook! I love reading your words and entering in to the story through them. This story is one that is touching and amazing–not only was your new sister brave, but so were your parents. Beautiful!

  9. Claudia

    Just wrote down your 3 “brave girl” things. What an amazing story. Amazing brave parents too!

    1. Astrid Melton

      Thanks Claudia. I know lots of Claudia’s from back home.

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