Brave to you will likely look very different then it does to me…
I was recently challenged to consider the bravest thing I have done. I thought, instead, of all of the courage and bravery I have seen in the people I know and love. I have friends who have literally chased down muggers/assailants. I have law enforcement friends. I have inner-city-teacher friends. I know several people who travel the world, adventuring into unknown and remote locations… (I recently read a story about an Anaconda, in the Amazon, that stalked someone in the water. It STALKED them. Snakes are in the wild, unknown and remote locations. This is a problem for me.)
My sister Joy lives in a beautiful home in south-eastern New Mexico. (she also has snakes who stalk and intrude on her life) My son is a soldier, as are so many friends. I know a beautiful soul who is a surrogate. The list goes on and on. I see bravery demonstrated so regularly and, when I look at myself, I feel like there is no comparison.
And therein lies the issue. There IS no comparison. My brave won’t look like yours. While it may have been brave for me to fight for my marriage and stand by my husband after infidelity and betrayal, it may be brave for another woman to walk away from a similar situation… And that is the thing about courage- no one else gets to decide it. A soldier, in and of itself, does not make them brave. A soldier who is willing to protect us and fight for what is right, even if it costs him his life- THAT is the brave part. Courage and selflessness in the face of danger is their brave. We can define ourselves a thousand ways, but brave will never be located in the title.
My brave can be found in my pursuit of motherhood long after I lost my uterus. I was shattered, but did not give up.
My brave can be seen within the moves I’ve made, the jobs I’ve taken.
My brave is there, beyond my comfort zone. In the once-awkward situations, the stranger-conversations, the elements of life just beyond my natural limit. I have grown to push myself there, into that place. Sometimes it is downright nauseating.
My brave is rooted deep, in my writing. To be authentic, raw and displayed does not come naturally, but it is the only way that it feels right.
My brave may have been born the day that I realized it was up to me to stop the patterns of sexual abuse that were happening within my childhood. There was no shame, only a concrete knowledge that the more people I told, the less likely it was to happen again.
I told everyone.
It never happened again.
Perhaps the most ironic part of each one of those things though, is that they never felt brave. They often felt woven with elements of worry, anxiety and more than a healthy sprinkling of fear. Second guessing was my second nature during the seasons that, upon reflection, reveal themselves as brave. Bravery often makes me feel like I need to throw up, pass out, curl up in my bed and hide… The list goes on and on, but never have I though Woah! Now that, Misty, that was one mighty fine act of bravery! And it’s pretty unfair for me to hold myself to another soul’s standard of bravery before I’m willing to label it is as such.
Maybe you scale rocky mountainside’s for fun, eat nails for breakfast and only date psycho clowns- if so, my list probably seems pretty mild to you. (I’d also like to point out that two of those three things aren’t brave, they are reckless and that’s not actually always a fine line. Sometimes it is a gigantic 8-lane interstate.)
I don’t know when I’m brave, always.
I am pretty sure I could sit here and list out the ten-thousand ways I have felt and acted the opposite, just this month.
I’m working on accepting my brave for what it is. I’m learning I don’t need my neighbor, brother, husband or friend to call it brave, for it to be. Most importantly though, I know to my core that I need the brave list to be growing longer, by the day, while the other list grows smaller and smaller…
So that’s my plan.
(Minus any and all snakes, anyway.)
What has your brave looked like?