I’m joining in with Five-Minute Friday again today to write about brave.
Linda at burlap + blue shared my thoughts on bravery earlier this week- so recently that I thought about taking a different angle- but my thoughts are still running in the same direction. My heart is with several friends who are facing hard, hard things. Maybe somebody needs more exhortation to bravery this week, or maybe somebody missed the first post and will get this one. Maybe it sounds like I’m trying to convince myself. At the risk of being redundant, here’s five minutes on brave.
There was fire coming out of the van. And no, it wasn’t our van. We were inside it, though- we, the now-family-of-five, on Christmas Night in the deserted Barnes and Noble parking lot…the three-year-old and his three-month-old baby sisters, and we, the parents. The adults. The responsible decision-makers, charged with protecting our children, were fear-frozen in the front seats and looking at flames coming out of the hood of the borrowed minivan.
In that moment, my heart in my throat, my chest tight, and my mind racing, all I knew was that I had to get the kids out.
I’ve hardly ever felt so afraid.
When we are in that moment, whatever that is, when we are staring fear directly in the face, we all feel scared. Everybody has shaky knees, a racing heart, a dry mouth, a tight chest. Some of us even think we are going to throw up. Maybe some of us even do throw up. We think we aren’t brave enough to face our struggles, that what’s in front of us is too much for us to handle.
Our problem isn’t that we aren’t brave enough.
Our problem is that we assume that feeling afraid means we have already failed at being brave.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Fear doesn’t mean you aren’t brave. Fear just means you are about to decide to do the brave thing. Fear is your opportunity to do brave…and the greater the fear, the greater the opportunity.
In that moment, whatever it is for you (flaming van, big interview, first day of homeschooling, relocating to New England, the unknown of a new diagnosis or the arrival of the brand-new baby or the starting line of your first race), when you feel afraid or scared or fearful or anxious or however you label that feeling of helpless inadequacy, it isn’t how you feel that matters.
Brave isn’t feeling strong, like you have the courage to take on the world. Brave isn’t feeling ahead of time that you have everything you need to make it through unscathed. Brave isn’t feeling confident that things are going to work out just fine.
Brave isn’t actually a feeling at all.
Brave is staring fear in the face, shakiness, nausea and all, and deciding to act anyway.
Brave is feeling sure you’re outmatched, but choosing to give it everything you’ve got anyway.
Brave is what you do after you are completely and totally terrified.
Brave isn’t about the severity of your circumstances or how your life compares to someone else’s. Brave isn’t the exclusive territory of people who have to face harder things than you do. Brave is what you do when you decide that you will not let your struggles define you. Brave is how you act when you live as if you had all the strength you wish you had. Brave is who you are when you look your challenges in the face and say (through gritted teeth if you have to), “I will not let you defeat me.”
No one ever feels brave…so if you’re scared, you’re in good company. It’s what you do next that counts.