Bravery is such a bold and beautiful word. Hearing the word, I immediately envision a man or woman strong in physical body, but also an inner strength that radiates outward.
What I have learned about bravery in life is that in the strongest bravery stories I have heard, the brave person was forced to make a choice; a choice on how they handled the challenging and often unfair situation that was given to them.
One might argue that in a forced bravery situation one would show whether or not they had grit. There is truth to that statement. But I am not sure that those of us that choose to be brave in a scary or sad situation are always pushing forward using grit.
I think sometimes maybe people simply surprise themselves.
I think sometimes people are brave when they would rather be timid.
Maybe it is not even that they don’t want to be brave, but they simply feel they don’t have the strength to do so.
Years ago Owen’s dad had to travel 5 days out of the week for work. I was still fairly new to Alabama and did not have a strong community in my life yet. He was my family and my friend and when he traveled I felt very alone. During the week when he was gone I was timid. I was scared to be alone and cried a lot. I felt the opposite of brave.
Fast forward to the present. Last night my son and I arrived home to an empty house in Alabama after a holiday season filled with people surrounding us. Again I have been forced to be on my own, this time solely caring for a toddler. And yet, now I feel so much braver and so much less alone.
I believe my bravery isn’t a simple explanation like I am stronger than I was, or I have learned more through life experiences, or it is coming from God.
I think it is all of the above. My bravery is coming from belief; a belief within myself that I can do hard things but also a spiritual belief that I am not alone when doing hard things.
Regardless of all the different beliefs out there, I think most people would agree that some days there is an energy out there that has helped them somehow, someway, even if it was just a push to get out of bed on a hard day.
Thank goodness for that energy. Without it, I am pretty sure there would be many days where I would make the choice to stay in bed. I’m so thankful for this energy that has forced me to be brave.
I think that’s a lot of what life is about. Finding our own strengths and weaknesses but then trusting that that energy, is going to show up when we need it most.
I’ve been forced to be brave a lot lately making decisions for me and Owen about our house, our financial security or lack thereof, my job and just life. And I know I wasn’t alone as I was making those decisions.
My bravery in moving forward is because of everyone that is holding me up from behind.
My friends and family that text me when they know it is a hard day. My son that immediately brings a peace with him wherever he goes. My faith that reminds me I will never have to do anything hard alone.
Last night I felt brave and scared all at once coming home to my empty house. Putting my feelings out into the wide open world of the internet makes me feel the same. Posting pictures that show my flaws cause the brave and scared feelings together.
I sure am learning a lot through this journey. And the bravery lesson has been one of the hardest, but also one of the best. Because it has been a reminder that life isn’t black and white.
Life isn’t brave or scared. Life is a mix of all the gray.
While I continue on this journey through the gray, I hope I continue to encounter braver moments and fearful moments. I think there are lessons in both.