What does it mean to be brave?
When Annike was a little girl she was tough. She didn't cry when she got hurt. If she did cry, then we knew it was bad news. We thought she was brave.
Now we have changed our minds. She squawks loudly at the mere thought of getting hurt. If Sommer touches her in any way, we hear about it... though I have to admit that Sommer can pack a punch.
The thing that is different now in Annike as a 4-year-old versus Annike as a baby is her knowledge of fear. She now knows fear because she understands that bad things can happen. Fear of the future, fear of blood, fear of what pain feels like, and of course, when it comes to interactions with Sommer, fear of getting clawed up at the same time as she loses a toy.
Lately, I have been thinking about what it means to be brave. I see a lot of brave people in my life right now, and I want to be one of them. And I have decided that when Annike was a baby and did not cry does not really mean she was brave. She just had a high pain tolerance that seems to have evaporated with her 3rd birthday.
Being brave does not have anything to do with pain tolerance. Being brave is also not about living without fear. It is not throwing caution to the wind, or acting in stupidity, or doing something crazy that Hollywood might call brave. It is not possessing physical strength.
Being brave is acutely feeling the fear of what can happen but choosing to walk forward courageously, all the while trusting God with the details, the journey, the outcome. It may be risky. It may be hard. It is a choice.
Brave is choosing to forgive while the anger is still fresh.
Brave is walking through cancer, chemotherapy, hair loss, nausea, all the while trusting in God and seizing the opportunities He provides.
Brave is choosing to give someone the benefit of the doubt, offering the gift of trust, even if undeserved.
Brave is knowing when to fight and knowing when to let go.
Brave is caring for a developmentally delayed child, though every milestone is harder reached.
Brave is facing a terminal disease and choosing to enjoy the little things.
Brave is standing courageous in the face of opposition, feeling it is enough to be on God's side.
Brave is embracing the pain, believing that one day life will be different.
Brave is losing a baby in the womb, when all of the technology and ultrasounds and medicines will never be enough.
Brave is choosing to tell your story so that others will be encouraged.