I just finished reading Annie F. Downs’ book Let’s All Be Brave, and I’ve watched the Bloom Book Club videos about it. I’ve been thinking: what does brave look like for me?
Starting this blog was brave. I am not a person who usually speaks up; few people except my husband and a few close friends know what I’m really thinking because I don’t say it aloud. I tend to keep my thoughts and opinions to myself because I’ve found that speaking up tends to make life more complicated. The truth is, it is fear that keeps me from joining the conversation and standing by my views. I’m afraid of being judged, disliked, or written off by others — but I write myself off by not speaking up sometimes.
My first career was in journalism, and in that field, being unbiased is valued. Of course, it was impossible not to form personal opinions, but it was my job to represent both sides equally so that the reader could form an opinion independently. It was my job to be fair, and that was a professional priority for me. I got used to telling other people’s stories and voicing other people’s opinions eloquently.
Yet, saying what I’m actually thinking in a blog format — that takes so much more courage than the journalism writing that I did before. As a reporter, I was sent out to do interviews in a tornado one time, so journalism took plenty of courage as well. That type of writing never left me personally vulnerable though.
Even if people didn’t like what I wrote as a journalist, I knew it wasn’t actually me that was bothering them. That helped me develop a thick skin for criticism, but I have begun to break down some of those defenses — especially now that I am a wife and a mother. My heart has softened. I realize that I do care what others think, but it does leave me much more open to being hurt.
Even now, I don’t want to be vulnerable. I felt led to start this blog earlier this year, and even though it is small, it takes bravery every time that I write. What I write isn’t very controversial for other Christians, but for people who are not believers, what I’m writing is bold territory. To stand up and say that I believe in Christ takes courage, but I am glad to say it.
If you are like me — a person who is shy about speaking up, even if what you have to say is encouraging and edifying — I understand how brave it is to write a blog post or leave a genuine comment on someone else’s blog. For more extroverted types, this probably doesn’t look brave at all. One of the points that Annie makes in the book club videos is that my brave will look different from your brave. What looks easy for one person will take bravery for another, but God sees and knows your heart. He knows how much bravery He’s asking of you.
For some people, it takes bravery to believe that Christ really forgives. It takes bravery to share your spiritual gifts instead of hiding them. It takes bravery to open up to others if you have been hurt in the past. It takes bravery to stop repeating past mistakes. It takes bravery to pray and let Christ show you an area of weakness in your life that He wants to address.
In this blog, I have shared two very personal things about myself: the scar that I have, and my experience with preeclampsia. I have also shared so much of my joy about being a mother and about God’s grace. I will probably never know the full impact of this blog on the lives of others, but I do know that God is teaching me about myself as I write.
So, this blog is my BIG brave. Also, keeping a positive attitude despite struggles and relying on God to keep his promises in my daily life is another BIG brave.
One of my smaller areas of bravery lately was committing to sewing some dresses for Sewing 4 Souls even though I do not sew well. I also think it took some bravery to go to adult guitar lessons at a local church this fall; it is something completely new for me, but I am enjoying it. What would be really brave would be to play the guitar in front of others, and that day may come.
To give you something to think about, I want to leave you with a quote from Annie’s book.
I never tied discipline to courage. I never saw the correlation. I guess I should have, since I lack in both. But in all matters — physical, mental, and spiritual — I believe that to live a disciplined life leads to a brave life. We long to be brave in the big moments, in the clutch times, in the times when our backs are up against a wall. But to get there? It’s the everyday. It’s the practice. It’s the steps. It’s the discipline.
What areas of practice (honing your talents) or spiritual discipline (prayer, etc.) might help you be more brave when times get tough?
I hope you are having a wonderful week. If you read along with the Bloom Book Club, I hope you were challenged by this book.