I’ve been thinking quite bit about what it means to be brave and then reflecting on those moments when I was brave or when I saw my children, students, friends and family all choose to be brave at a given time. All of those moments look different, all of those people had to be brave for various reasons, but there is one connecting thread; when you are brave, you have faith. When you are brave you have faith in your decisions, you have faith that it will all end up right in the end, you have faith that there is a reason for this moment and this chapter in your journey. Being brave can be such a hard and challenging thing, but it’s faith that pulls us through.
When you are brave you are fearless, heroic, bold and daring. Brave is when you are unflinching, spirited, resolute and determined. But being brave can also be when you endure, suffer, sustain, or defy a situation. I have been brave in both senses of the word and I’ve also been a witness of this bravery in others.
I truly don’t know what it feels like to have someone promise you the world and then take it all away with a single conversation, and not just take away your future together and the dreams you dreamt together, but at the same time to take away everything you believed and thought to be just and true. My dear friend not only lost the person she committed her life to but also best friend because they decided to betray her trust. I can’t imagine what that felt like, but I know all I wanted to do was wrap her up and say over and over again, “you don’t deserve this.” My friend knew that already, that she deserved better and she had faith that God wasn’t going to let her life be just about this story, this moment. That faith is what brought her out of the darkness of this time and allowed her to find light and love in another. That faith is what made her brave enough to try again, to trust again, to give of herself and share her life and dreams with someone else. And that hiccup in her journey, what it did for her was made her stronger, more open, honest, and compassionate. She has always loved fiercely, when you are in her circle she will do anything for you. I saw her be brave when she chose to defy her situation and endure her suffering to reach out and love again. And what a wonderful love she has found. She was brave because she had faith that there was more of her story to be written.
A few years ago, I watched a friend live unhappily in the career of his choice. He lacked the passion and drive to continue the road he chose initially because it was draining verse rewarding. He has a family and with that a commitment to protect and provide for them and so he went to work each day, hating it. In awe, I witnessed my friend be brave, be bold and determined to be happy and in that provide an even better life for his family. He quit his job. He didn’t flinch and was resolute in his decision, he knew he could do better. What a brave act, to throw security out the window and choose happiness instead. Faith is what pulled him through this. It was his faith that there was more for him in life, his faith that he could provide for his family and feel challenged and rewarded in his job at the same time. He had faith that he wouldn’t fall and rather those around him would lift him up.
I often have people commend me for being so open and honest here on this blog. I will admit there has been many times where I hesitate to press the “save & publish” button on a post. Is it brave to share your story? Is it brave to be vulnerable and open yourself up for criticism? I remember when I published “Expectations…” I sat anxiously waiting to hear what others had to say, because it was a private and personal struggle. As silly as this sounds, I also feel brave - bold and daring - when I take all five kids outside by myself. I feel this way because so many things could go wrong, so many needs could happen at once, but then there is this faith that they can be more independent then I give them credit for, the faith that there is no way all of the “what if’s” that I’m playing out in my head could possibly happen at once. I felt brave - unflinching and determined - when I decided a few months ago that I was going to take more graduate classes. Why is this brave? Because it requires time, energy and focus, something that is sparse and hard to come by at this moment in my life, because I feel stretched so thin already. But I’ve decided that this is the time for me to tackle this challenge because I deserve it. I deserve to grow in my career and I deserve to be rewarded for my growth and I have faith that I am capable of such a task.
What might be really brave is when I chose to try for a third baby after a miscarriage. My husband and I had faith that this calling we heard, this feeling we felt was true. We believed we had more love to give and that God had a bigger story for us. And now we know He really did, He has a lot of trust in us. But that moment and decision was hard, it was brave of us to endure that heartache, to find strength when reliving the pain of loss. I was brave then, because I had faith.
It’s been a blessing to watch my children be brave. Weston, who has Celiac Disease, has been bold and spirited when living this life. Even from the age of two, Weston became an advocate for himself. He learned how to withstand and confront his struggles head on. From the moment he could string multiple words together, a consistent phrase you would hear from him was, “is that gluten free?” He also has been able to take each hurdle with stride and endure those moments at class parties when everyone else gets a nicely decorated cupcake and he gets a cookie that is on reserve in his teacher’s desk, or at Thanksgiving when I have to pack him a separate dinner as everyone else stands in line at the buffet. He doesn’t have a choice, he has to face this struggle and adhere to this lifestyle, but what makes him brave is his determination and faith that this will not define him, but that his story is much richer than a boy with Celiac Disease.
I’m sure many would agree with me that our children are often brave. In those first few years of life there is this blissful ignorance or is it just a true daring spirit. When little ones are brave is it because they have faith that all people are good, is it because they have faith that we will catch them when they fall. My five children are young, but I don’t think that gutsy, risky behavior ever goes away. By being brave our children learn about the world and most of all they learn about having faith in others and in themselves.
When I think about moments when my students are brave, I see that bravery shine through when they are willing to try something new, when they aren’t afraid to fail, when they don’t succumb to the routine and instead stretch themselves. Where is faith in this? My students are brave when they trust me. They have faith that I won’t allow them to falter too far, they believe in my intentions and trust the process, their faith lies in me as their teacher.
Being brave can take on many forms, it can be because of many circumstances, but what allows someone to be brave, is their faith. That faith might be in a person, it might be in the process, it might be in God and something greater.
Whatever allows you to have faith in that moment, embrace it. Faith provides us the opportunity to be brave, to be valiant, to be unafraid, to be gutsy. There is so much of our story to still be written, hold on to faith and be brave, so that your story is a true reflection of your journey.