1. Sometimes brave doesn’t look like you think it does. My friend Sarah used to live in Scotland, which sounds like a dream. But she was depressed – which is hard to believe if you meet her, because she is fluid joy. Her laugh is infectious. Her smile heals me when she shows up on my doorstep with chocolate, brushes past me to make me a cup of tea in my own house and get down on the floor with my boys and trains and tickle fights.
She told me the other day that brave in those days, in Scotland, was getting out of bed (and I know that, I’ve been there). It was making tea and toast. Leaving the house. Driving her car from A to B. It was just being, just doing. Just eating and drinking and breathing and not letting herself fall off the edge.
Sometimes brave is climbing mountains and rescuing trafficking victims and being shot at on the front lines. But others, it is just being alive. Just doing today, and seriously considering doing tomorrow.
2. You do not have to be brave all the time. John Stott, in his farewell book The Radical Disciple, wrote this:
“I sometimes hear old people, including Christian people who should know better, say, ‘I don’t want to be a burden to anyone else. I’m happy to carry on living so long as I can look after myself, but as soon as I become a burden I would rather die.’ But this is wrong. We are all designed to be a burden to others. You are designed to be a burden to me and I am designed to be a burden to you. And the life of the family, including the life of the local church family, should be one of ‘mutual burdensomeness.’”
It is a brave thing to carry another person’s burden. But occasionally you can be a coward and let yourself be carried. There is no shame in it. If anything, there is glory in it – in the allowing of your weakness to be seen, to be covered over by someone else’s strength.
3. You are braver than you think. I have gotten emails saying, “But I’m not as brave as you!” Why not? Because I live in England? Because I chose love and moved 3000 miles away from home? It is brave, I suppose. Or it was when I did it. But today it is just a life, though it is on different soil than the stuff I grew up on.
You are just as brave, wherever you are. I promise. Not because of what you’re doing, but because of what you are made of. I know you feel like a scaredy cat sometimes, but that is a lie, so let’s call it what it is and be done with it. You and I are made of courage and grit and power and love. I’m talking to you, and if you think I’m talking to everyone else, you are exactly the one I’m talking to.
Call it what it is. And listen to me when I say you are braver than you think.