You Are Brave

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I love history because I love attempting to see things from all perspectives. I want to know the “why” behind things and what steps were made ahead of time leading up to a particular event/moment in history. I want to see things from as many perspectives as I possibly can, knowing all the while that my perspective is skewed because of who I am, where I was born, how I was raised, what color my skin is, etc. Still, my heart yearns to be able to see things from someone else’s perspective so that I can have more compassion and understanding. I want to see the ways in which people have been brave throughout history and the ways people are still being brave today.

Now picture being a teacher to teenagers in today’s world with all that entails. Man my heart aches when my kids are impatient with one another, when they fight and gossip and speak poorly, when others (even adults, myself included) say things that crush their spirits. Oh how I wish I could fix each broken heart, each painful word spoken, each lie the Enemy tells, convincing them they hold little worth to anyone. I wish I could help them see things not only from their own perspective, but also from the perspective of those around them. I want them to see the ways in which they are brave each and every day, even when they don’t feel like it.

It was out of this heart that “You Are Brave” was born. Most of the time when I am coming up with mini-lesson plans (like this one and “Your Words Matter”) it is because they are things my heart needs to hear, things I need to grapple with and figure, maybe if I needed to hear it, my students might too. Sorry kids! You guys are great about putting up with constant need to learn things over and over!

This last spring I was having a difficult time knowing how to be brave enough to get through to my students, a specific class in particular, the power of their words. This specific class never ceases to amaze me. They are bold and brave and unique. They are each different with strengths and skill sets unique to each one of them. Because of those differences there can be conflict. If you have ever attended a small school you know, the family feel and closeness can be both a beautiful thing and a source of great conflict, and the atmosphere is ever changing depending on the day.

As I read Days 3 & 4 of “100 Days to Brave” by Annie F. Downs I realized I saw their strengths and the beauty in how they have each been created so uniquely wonderful, but maybe they did not. Maybe they did not realize just how brave and bold and beautiful they each are. And maybe that was my fault. I spent more time encouraging them to love one another and use their words wisely and less time telling them the areas I already see them doing this well. And so I decided it was high time for me to tell them each, where their classmates could hear, ways in which I see them being brave every day.

With this class I have felt that I am in the presence of world changers. The idea continuously flashed in my mind as I stood before them teaching throughout the year and yet I had never felt brave enough to tell them. And so I decided to change that. I came into class one day, at the very end of the school year, stood before them and told them not only that I believe they will be world changers but also the ways I already see them choosing to be brave. I looked at each one of them through a teary eyes and told them the ways I see them being brave. How they are brave in their quiet leadership, their fierce loyalty and love, their willingness to speak up for what they believe and face conflict. In their kindness and compassion. In the ways they offer their talents and gifts to serve others. The way they face challenges and never use those challenges as an excuse to accept anything less than their best.

They are brave.

You too are brave.

In case nobody else has told you, I want you, dear reader, to know that you are brave. I would be willing to bet that if we sat down for coffee/tea and you shared your story with me I would be able to spot the areas you are brave without even knowing it.

Being brave doesn’t mean not being scared. Being brave doesn’t mean you won’t still have doubts in your heart and mind. Being brave, as Annie F. Downs points out, “is hearing that voice of fear in your head, but saying ‘Okay, but the truth is, God made me on purpose and for a purpose.’” It is no easy thing to remind yourself you were made on purpose, for a purpose, and to truly trust in that. It is no easy thing to be who God made each of us to be.

“We can only keep on going, after all, by the power of God, who first saved us and then called us to this holy work. We had nothing to do with it. It was all his idea, a gift prepared for us in Jesus long before we knew anything about it. But we know it now” 2 Timothy 1:8-9 (MSG).

You may not feel brave. Most brave people never truly do. You may have a moment of extreme courage but those moments are often few and fleeting. Being brave is being willing to do the next thing. Day after day, do the next thing. Take the next step, and the next, and the next; doing exactly what it is God has asked of you. Being willing to take brave steps in obedience to God. 

You are brave for waking up each morning and choosing to live each day. You are brave for finding hope even in the small things. You are brave for the sacrifices you make each day at work and at home for your family. You are brave for growing and blooming even on the edge of cliffs. You are brave for choosing to not settle for less than what or who God has for you. You are brave for choosing love each day.

You. Are. Brave.

Cheer on the bravery of others, see the courage and bravery in those around you and you, in return, will be all the braver for it. I have two challenges for you:

  1. Think back on your story and pinpoint moments (at least one or two) that you realize now were brave
  2. Seek out bravery in those around you and be bold enough to share it with them

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