Dear Bravery, Maybe You’re Not What We Think

You are doing the brave thing,” a doting friend says to the heroine of the movie, over cups of tea.

My friend and I watched the scene unfold over our own mugs of tea and pumpkin cookies.

“Oh, I know it doesn’t feel like that. You feel like a big fat failure now. But you’re not. You are daring to imagine that you could have a different life.”

Scenes like these sometimes give words to the questions we wrestle with, don’t they? For the bright, creative heroine in this movie scene, her choice to close down her business felt like a massive failure. A heartbreak. The end of something that she never, ever wanted to end.

In the confusing aftermath of the closure, in true Hollywood fashion, her on-screen friend her tells her that shutting the doors was the brave thing to do. Not because it was glamorous or tidy or pleasant, but because it required her to be brave in the act. The brave thing was inside of her, not in the circumstance.

I interpreted these words through our tiny TV speakers and wondered: What does what ‘the brave thing‘ look like for me?

Does the brave thing sometimes look different than I allow?

I go back and forth daily – hourly, sometimes.

Do I stay content where I am, trusting that my everyday faithfulness is used by God? or Do I allow my lack of contentment spur me on to new challenges and dreams?

Today, I’m sitting right in the middle of these two questions.

Does bravery look like staying, or going?

Settling, or dreaming?

Sitting, or spurring on?

I think back to the days just after I finished college, when I was sitting with a similar set of questions. Just days after crossing the graduation stage, I flew to Europe with my family, hoping to leave the weight of the decision-making behind.

I can figure this out, I thought furiously to myself, as we flew over the slate-grey Atlantic Ocean. There is surely a right and wrong way to live my post-college life, and I am not going to be wrong. 

I weighed my options.

Was I supposed to take whatever job I could grasp, like my dad’s foreboding economist friends said? Or was I supposed to do something more ‘daring’ and ‘passion-driven’ with my new-found freedom, like the Millennials seemed to do?  And why wasn’t it all more clear?

I remember a deep weariness in my heart. I wanted God – or anybody, really – to tell me what the right thing was. But I was presented with only choice.

The choices didn’t let me rest – or maybe, I didn’t let them go. They followed me across Europe, on planes and trains, over dark cups of coffee and Nutella croissants.

What does the brave thing look like for me? 

I didn’t know. No one told me. (And this, I might add, is precisely why Nutella and croissants were created. For times like these.)

In the confusing aftermath of the closure of that chapter of life, I wish I could tell past Laura: There is more than one brave path.

As my favorite writing professor in college used to say, “There are many roads in life, and most are good.” 

There are many brave, right choices.

Your choice to take this or that job, to move to this or that city, to take the advice or take your own path. Your choices will not surprise God, nor toss him off his throne, nor incur his wrath upon you.

It is possible to be obedient to God and still choose from any number of good paths.

I can’t go back and tell past Laura, so instead I’ll tell my current self: brave is not a matter of right and wrong, but a matter of trust. Not a matter of what’s happening around you, but what’s happening within.

What if for us – like for the heroine in the movie scene – the brave thing isn’t the staying, or the closing, or the beginning again, or the dreaming. What if the brave thing is us? 

Friend, I think the brave thing is you. 

I believe that when faced with the job offer, the temptation, the crossroads, the creeping sense of despair…the brave thing is within. Within is where the Holy Spirit dwells, where your most essential, God-breathed self lives. No matter the decision or circumstance, bravery begins here.

Do you come to God with your choice, and listen for his still, small voice? Do you talk with a mentor about what the next right thing is for you? Do you weigh the options and seek the truth before you leap?

Then, you are a brave soul. You are daring to imagine that your life could look a little different tomorrow then it does today.

You can choose, and you can choose bravely.

You can trust the work of God in your mind and spirit. You can listen for where he calls you to obedience. And then you can choose with confidence.

Let’s live like this is true. Let’s trust that the bravery of the Holy Spirit is ours to own and claim and display to the world each day.

Let’s ask God for his help in navigating the hard choice, trusting that He goes with us and that He is for us, no matter the path.

And let the Father be glorified as we lean on him to help us live out of our brave, beautiful selves within.

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