We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are. –Madeleine L’Engle
I’ve been thinking a lot about bravery today–about what exactly it means to be brave. I turned to my old friend Merriam-Webster for initial guidance, just to see if I was even on the right track. At first all the dictionary gave me was “courageous behavior or character.”
Great. Now I was left with another word to define.
A little further on I read: “Bravery is the quality that allows someone to do things that are dangerous or frightening.” And then maybe half way down the page of the google list, the word courage popped up in big letters–bigger than all the rest on the search page.
“Courage – Courage is the ability and willingness to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation.”
By this definition, I suppose I can honestly say I have courage. I’m not afraid to speak my mind even if it means losing some friends–or a job. I’m not a fearful person in general. I love to walk outside in the dark at the lake house with only the moonlight to guide me. I have often walked into the unknown of a new experience with my eyes wide open, heart pounding in my chest. I have traveled to many new places alone, even places where I did not speak the local language. I have never minded or been afraid of being hungry when there was a scarcity of food. I have looked bullies straight in the eye and walked away with nary a scratch.
All those things I have done in the past.
But still I wonder about the future: Will I have the courage to swim across the current of negative opinion and harsh criticism? Will I be able to take a stand for what I believe is right and good and honest in the face of persecution not from my enemies, but from my “friends”? Will I have the fortitude to forge ahead with a detached intrepidity that looks only to love and justice for guidance?
I look at Ev. He’s five. The next 13 years of my life will be spent shaping him, guiding him, pointing out the way to live to him with every comment I speak or leave unspoken. My life will lead him.
And I wonder: What do I want my life to say?
I want to tell him that no matter what, standing up for the broken-hearted and voiceless is what really matters; that God created all people equal not the writers of the Declaration of Independence; that it is never all right to choose what he wants based on practicality or fear.
Living a life of love is what matters.
Lovingasawayofliving as I like to call it.
The opposite of love is not hate, but fear. Through the ages great men have said it in different ways. Gandhi said: “The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear.” Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” And of course I can’t leave out John Lennon: “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back…When we are in love, we open up…” Or a better quote yet: “All you need is love. Love. Love is all you need.”
Before all of them, The Aposlte John said it in his epistle: “Perfect love casts out fear.” It’s not wrong to have fear, but we must push through our fear. Fear is based on judgment and love holds none. True bravery faces the fear and love overcomes it.
Love and fear cannot coexist.
I want my life to shout, “Love and fear cannot coexist!”
Living in love without fear is true bravery and courageous living. My prayer is that Ev picks up this truth like a favorite rock on the beach and places it in a treasured place in his heart. I pray I demonstrate how to invoke a stouthearted approach to life and its challenges.
In the face of harsh criticism, I want to stand strong with my loving heart intact.
dauntless and daring
in the face of danger,
valor and honor
work together with boldness and love
to form a new kind of hero:
a brave one
who loves without fear.