When I think about being brave, I remember a quote by A. A. Milne, the author of Winnie the Pooh. I’m sure it’s familiar. It’s been made into hundreds of memes. “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” I take comfort in that quote when I think that I’ve failed at being brave because my perception is that I fail a lot with this concept. I don’t feel brave at all. In fact, a lot of the time I’m scared to death when I’m trying something new.
The same thing happened to the author of the devotional I’ve begun reading. God led her to do something, and she took steps of faith. But, she didn’t feel brave at all during the entire process. In fact, she cried the entire time she was moving to her new city. Crying. The same thing I feel ashamed of doing. It’s hard for me to get involved in conflict or in expressing my opinion because I’m afraid I will cry. That doesn’t stop me from crying when I’m upset though. I do my best to hide it for as long as I can, but when my bravery shields break down, they usually do so spectacularly. I’ve been told lamenting is a brave thing to do, but my feeling is that crying and bravery are very opposite.
What complicates all this is that I suffer from depression. There are days I don’t want to leave the house, but the big thing is that my depression convinces me that I’m not worth very much and that people couldn’t possibly want my company. So, I keep to myself even when I’m in a crowd of people. Why would I want to be brave when I’ll just be kicked down by the world again?
But, even though I suffer from depression and fail at being brave, I still want friends. I still want to do things for God, and I still do my best to listen to His voice. As I think about this conundrum, a quote from the author of 100 Days to Brave pops out at me. “I never felt brave. But day after day, I just did the next thing, took the next step, said the next yes.” Sounds like feelings might not have a whole lot to do with being brave even though we depend on them for the things we do in this life. We take the next job because it feels better. We move to another city because we feel like we need a change. We go on a missions trip because it feels like God is telling us to. I’m not saying feelings are invalid though, and that is my struggle. I’m not sure what the difference is between good feelings and bad feelings. I know God gave them to me, but my illness prevents me from processing them well.
Back to being brave. The author suggested that I journal about three instances in my life which I or someone else might label as brave. The first was when I was first put on depression medication. Before I did this, I had just shouldered my way through life’s pains and disappointments. That was the only way I knew. It proved I was strong and made it so no one could hurt me. But, there was a point where it got to be too much. In the time span of a couple of years, I had a death in the family; my husband had surgery and became unemployed; we moved (more than once); and I had a miscarriage. So much pain. My doctor heard me say all this and said she was impressed I was still on my feet. She prescribed me medication that helped my feelings even out and become manageable. I guess you could call that being brave.
The second instance is fairly minor in scope, but it meant a lot to me when I was able to do it. Last year, a young couple in my church got married. The bride grew up in our youth group and is not much older than my own sons. So, we all knew them well and were invited to the wedding. There was a bridal shower a few months before the wedding which I was invited to attend. Since this couple was popular, I knew the shower would be crowded. I hemmed and hawed to myself about going because just the thought of being around a lot of people terrified me. Finally, my regard for the bride tipped the scales, and I went. I was right. There was a lot of people. More than fifty, but I managed it, and I was pretty proud of myself when I came home. That sounds like being brave too.
Finally, and this is the big one, I started sharing my writing in this blog and in my writing blog. I was giving myself a hard time the other day because I hadn’t submitted any of my stories to be considered for publication. What was I waiting for? Was I too scared to even try? But, then I realized something important. I was sharing my writing through these blogs. I was sharing the hard things, the private things with people I didn’t even know. The most personal parts of my heart. The parts where if certain people knew I had shared them, they would tell me I should be ashamed. But, I had thought about it and prayed about it and felt that God was leading me to share. People who have been through what I’ve been through shouldn’t have to feel like they’re alone. They shouldn’t feel ashamed. So, if they shouldn’t feel ashamed, I’m not going to feel ashamed either. I’m going to be the brave person God wants me to be.
Because, isn’t that the point? God promises to give us everything we need if we will only ask Him. He promises to give us strength as it says in Psalm 27:14. “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” That strength may only enable me to put one step in front of the other, but it is strength from God, and I am so grateful He doesn’t leave me or forsake me. May we all be braver than we believe as we wait on the Lord!
Praying God’s blessings on you all today!