When you think of bravery, what comes to mind? Do you imagine a firefighter rushing into a burning building? Or do you see a soldier at war fighting for their country? For the most part, when we think of bravery, we think lifesaving acts; acts of heroism by everyday men and women that restore our faith in humanity and make us feel good. But what about the little acts of bravery that people commit every day? You see, when I think of bravery, what comes to mind is stepping out in faith; facing your fears head on and living your best life. While I absolutely agree that acts of heroism and selflessness are brave, it also takes a lot of bravery to live life to the fullest.
Let me unpack this a little and explain what I mean. If you are going to be a firefighter or soldier, you need to take risks. A firefighter is literally running towards the fire that everyone else is running away from. Every firefighter runs the risk of getting injured or dying when they walk into a fire, and taking that risk requires a heck of a lot of bravery. I don’t know that I have it in me to do that and I so admire the men and women that do. But risk isn’t only limited to life and death situations, it is also present in the everyday. We don’t always realise it, but risk sits behind some of the decisions we need to make on a day-to-day basis. It’s nestled amongst the decisions that we need to make for ourselves and personally, this is where I need to be most brave.
For us mere mortals that aren’t running into a towering inferno, being brave looks very different. A few months ago, I moved out of home, which may not sound like a big deal to most people, but for a Lebanese girl who has parents that can be somewhat traditional and believe that you only move out when you get married (which I’m not), it was a big deal. It required me to be brave and tell my family that I was breaking away from what is culturally expected from me and going my own way. My parents found my decision hard to take however they supported me because they are awesome, but it was still hard for me. It was a tough conversation to have because I knew they wouldn’t understand why I wanted to move and it required a lot of bravery from me, not just in telling them, but in sticking to my decision and not letting the guilt kill me.
Because guilt, like fear and shame, can paralyse us and stop us from doing what we want, or need to do. It gets in the way of being brave and keeps us stranded in its deep waters, treading water but not actually going anywhere. Facing fear and guilt can be just as scary as running into a burning building and it is sometimes easier to just not go there. But, I as I decided to be brave, every time the guilt reared its head, I went to the altar and prayed. I lifted my eyes to heaven and prayed for strength and wisdom and courage to follow through because I knew in my heart of hearts that this was what I needed to do. Everything starts at the altar of God for me, everything! I do not make any life changing decisions without first praying and seeking peace for my actions. I get counsel from people I trust and respect and know will pray with me and for me to be brave enough in my decision-making. It is only through that, through seeking the face of Jesus before I act, that I can be brave. I am very much like Peter in the bible. Peter was in the boat when he saw Jesus walking on water and he wanted to do the same, so he called out to Jesus. When Jesus called Peter out onto the water, he stepped out and took a few steps, however as soon as he heard the wind, he took his eyes off Jesus and got distracted and started sinking. When my eyes are not on Christ and my heart isn’t at the altar, I get distracted and lose my ability to be brave; I lean back into comfortable and easy and familiar and if there is one thing I have learnt it’s that bravery doesn’t live there.
So, what does being brave look like for you? Maybe for you, being brave is saying yes. Being brave can also sometimes mean saying yes. I recently said yes to something that I have long said no to and it was a little difficult but that’s a story for another blog. But maybe your brave is you saying yes, instead of no. Or maybe it is saying no. Maybe you have lived up to everybody else’s expectations for far too long and being brave is saying ‘no’ when you are asked to do something you don’t want to do. Maybe being brave is facing your fears and quitting your job so that you can pursue your passion. Or buying a one-way ticket and travelling to all the places you have dreamed of. Or maybe, being brave is facing yourself in the mirror and admitting that you are not happy.
There are many people who are just living in negativity and bitterness and they have no joy at all. I am not going to pretend to know what that feels like however what I know is that is not the way to live. That is not what Jesus went to the Cross for; He went so that we would have life and have it in abundance and sometimes we need to stand face to face with ourselves and be brave and admit that we need to heal. We need to look deep inside and do a soul check. We need to check where our heart is at and see ourselves for who we are and admit that we are angry or hurt or just over it. that isn’t wrong. Feeling that way isn’t wrong because how you feel is how you feel, but it doesn’t bring joy or freedom or life. Joy and freedom only comes when we acknowledge what we feel; it comes when we are brave and face our emotions head on. Then, and only then, things can start to change.
There will always be risks. Always. You will always be at risk of being hurt if you have any kind of relationship with people. You will always be at risk of getting heartbroken. But personally, I would rather be brave and take the risk of getting hurt, then not taking a risk at all and living a mediocre life.