Hope and Promise

Prompt: Cowardice

cowardly lion

For many years, when Lily-Rose Roades watched The Wizard of Oz, she did not identify with Dorothy. She saw herself in the Cowardly Lion, the character who recognized his timidness and cowardice and sought courage from the Wizard in the Emerald City.

Lily-Rose never stood up for herself as a child. She let herself be bullied and abused. She felt rage and injustice and pain but did not fight back. She should have shouted at her father-impostor, or run away from home, or somehow been clever enough to make things right for her mother and herself.

But she never did. She was a coward. She failed. This knowledge was a large dead animal that she dragged behind her for nine years, until she met a teacher, or a teacher met her. A person who saw worth in a cowardly young girl past hope.

But what did the Wizard of Oz say to the Cowardly Lion?

As for you, my fine friend — you’re a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate delusion that simply because you run away from danger, you have no courage. You’re confusing courage with wisdom!

That’s what her teacher, the Wizard of Lily-Rose Roades’ life, told her. You did what you had to to survive. And you did survive. You are here now: smart, independent, and still brave in the face of a world that tries to tear you down. I know you. I know you are worthwhile, that you matter, and that you have a lot to give this world.

Lily-Rose didn’t watch The Wizard of Oz anymore. It reminded her too much of a time when she was vulnerable and in pain. She liked watching the trailers for it, with Dorothy setting off on her quest, so bright and full of hope and promise. She understood at last, thanks to a teacher, what that felt like.

She would never, ever underestimate the power of a kind word, faith, and humanity. It is good advice for everyone.