who feels brave?

that word- brave- and its variations: courageous. warrior. fighter.  those keep getting placed at my feet as though they apply to me, and i just don’t know.  it certainly doesn’t feel courageous to sit in a recliner, passively receive IV fluids, then lay in bed for 5-6 days. it feels like crap, really, and it feels like what you do because you have to, not because you’re brave.

my friends told me i was brave when i killed a bat in my dining room.  muttering ugly curses at the flying rodent in my house, i chased that @#$%-ing thing for 10 minutes, whacking at it and leaping over the dog and cat, who really really wanted to help me catch it.  i got it good- plopped it into a Victoria’s Secret bag for the pest control guys to test for rabies (as you do).  i did not feel brave.  i felt like there was a bat in my house.

i see brave every day…

men and women gathering strength and finding wholeness in life after their marriage covenant has been severed.

couples who have endured years of infertility, heartache, and miscarriage, and they join hands with others to carry them through their stories.

those who sit by their loved ones’ bedsides- living with them as they die.

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and you, who don’t think you are brave.  i see you.

you rise each day and take your steps in pain and uncertainty. that is brave.

you take a risk, try something new and challenging, and you fail.  again.  that is brave.

you worry about how to hold up your community through your struggle and loss.  that is brave.

you ask for help, invite others into your need.  that is brave.

you reach out and love hurting people even through your daily struggle, fear, exhaustion… that is brave.

and so many others… every day warriors, courageous in the mundane. maybe the brave i see in you is filled with tears and anger.  you would give anything at all to rewrite your story.  maybe you don’t feel hopeful and strong and inspiring.  you’re just getting through, and you feel ready to fall apart at any moment. maybe you live in dread; one more piece of bad news might be more than you can take. maybe you have strong doubts that God has any part of this, and His goodness? that seems like something happy people can hang on their wall in far away, light-filled rooms.  maybe you are numb, functioning in all the parts of your life, but barely there… hollow and separate.

is it possible we don’t have to feel brave?  what if bravery is what we see in others and gradually absorb into our deepest heart, unaware of what we’ve received.  what if it’s not how you feel inside, or even something larger than life that others see and exclaim, ‘i could never do that!’  i think brave can be quiet, a stillness in the swirling, thundering noise around us.  i think brave can be slow, not a title reserved for the fleet of foot and the heroic victors.

for those who believe in God, i think brave is trust.  even knowing the long record of God’s faithfulness to His people, we fear letting go of control, stepping toward the unknown. we fear the suffering we know comes hand in hand with this life, even (especially?) for those who daily place their hope in larger Hands. that kind of humility… that trust is courageous in surrender, brave in acceptance.

so maybe we can’t see brave in ourselves, but we recognize its presence:  in you, i understand brave.  in you, i see quiet, slow trust, and it soaks into me.  maybe that is how brave happens, and isn’t that even better?

Rock of Ages (When the Day Seems Long)- Matthew Perryman Jones- 

By Thy Mercy: Indelible Grace Acoustic

 Rock of Ages, my great hope secure. 

Your promise holds just like an anchor to my soul 

Bind your children with cords of love and grace. 

Rock of Ages, we give you praise.

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