I checked on my friend, the mama who had just dropped her daughter off for her first weekend away.
“She’s so strong,” she said, “so determined. I’m having a hard time already.”
“You’re brave,” I told her. “That’s where she gets it, from her mama.”
“Not me,” was her response. “I don’t feel brave.”
Maybe it’s sending your child to camp. Maybe it’s starting your own business. Maybe it’s losing weight, or taking the first step to reconcile a broken relationship. Maybe it’s facing surgery or fighting an illness. Maybe it’s becoming a parent for the first time or expanding your family. Maybe it’s facing life without someone you love. Whatever it is that you’re facing that scares you, maybe you don’t feel brave.
The world would be a lot more comfortable, a lot easier, if bravery were never called for, if strength were never needed. None of us really want to face our fears, no matter what they are. I suspect that none of us feel we have all the strength we need to get through our toughest times. In the middle of the storm, when the sky is getting darker by the minute and the battery in the flashlight is about to die, no one feels brave. Everybody panics. Everyone feels scared. Everyone wishes, at that moment, to be somewhere else.
All of us deal with fear at some point. Each of us has something to wrestle
with that scares us and makes us feel powerless. It doesn’t matter how
big or small your struggle seems to you. It’s easy to look around at the world and the other people in it, the ones facing great difficulties, and to think we are less than they are. It’s easy to think that what we are facing is ordinary. It’s easy to think that the fear we feel when we face our challenges means that we are weak.
Well, you’re not weak. You are stronger than you know. You just need an opportunity to show yourself how strong you are. And that’s exactly what fear is: an opportunity to show strength. A chance to be brave.
Brave people don’t have less fear than the rest of us. They have more courage…which just means that they make a decision to do what a brave person would do under the circumstances.
No one ever feels brave, because that’s not what brave is. Brave isn’t how you feel. Brave is what you do.
Brave is knowing with every fiber of your being that you can’t do it…and then doing it anyway.
Brave is facing the impossible, knowing full well it is beyond your grasp…and then attacking it with everything you’ve got.
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.”
Brave is your choice, every time.
“No one ever feels brave,” I told her. “It’s what you do afterward that makes the difference, that separates the brave people from the rest.”
If you’re afraid, you’re in good company. What you do after that is up to you.
Abbey Dupuy is a stay-at-home parent to a preschooler and one-year-old twins. She writes about practicing gratitude and learning to be a little easier on herself through the ups and downs of life at www.survivingourblessings.com. To keep her sanity, she enjoys running, fiber arts, baking, and going places that offer free refills on coffee or Diet Coke.