quiet courage

The word brave naturally conjures up certain images in my mind.

I envision Mel Gibson roaring "Freedom!" in Braveheart. I picture Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks. I see Jim Elliot and Mother Teresa... our armed forces... persecuted Believers... single parents... 

I imagine my Grandma on the long sea voyage to America a lifetime ago, in pursuit of a better future against all odds. Images of heroic feats, courageous adventures, and Mount Everest conquerors flurry through my head.

What doesn't come to mind, is me. Even after a year in which I intentionally chose to be brave.

Clearly I'm still working on recalibrating my own definition and understanding of bravery. It's a process — and probably a lifelong one. 

As I look back on 2014, I don't see any grand achievements or monumental victories or dauntless acts. But I do see quiet courage and lionhearted grit in a myriad of small things. 

I made big financial decisions, Forrest Gumped my way through building myself this new website, swung for the fences with work projects, put my introverted self out there, chose to do things just for me sometimes. 

I leaned into healthy friendships and away from unhealthy ones; I set better boundaries for myself; I put myself first in areas I'd normally put myself last. I let others in.

I opened my heart to possibilities, let my guard down, and allowed myself to enjoy the present without knowing what the future holds. {Translation: I started dating. (!!!) That's a whole other blog post. That will never be written.} 

I used my words more: I wrote a blog post about depression and suicide, even though I was terrified. I raised my voice for what matters to me, despite my fear of making waves. I stayed in the ring of the controversial and uncomfortable when I wanted to run and hide.  

I lost someone dear to me — again — and I'm somehow still standing. 

I returned to church. {Enough said.} 


All of it. Bravery.

So I'm more than okay with the fact that my brave journey didn't lead me up Mount Kilimanjaro, or into the Peace Corps, or through any fearless acts of heroism.

I'll stick with my quiet courage and lionhearted grit, and remind myself that the process of becoming brave trumps the finish line of being brave.

(Originally shared on Velvet Ashes)