what it really means to be brave

“Brave” was the last word I would use to describe myself. I thought it meant doing risky things. Culture talks about bravery like a medal of honour; it seems to have to involve doing something scary or out of the ordinary. I thought to be brave I’d have to face all my fears and force myself into uncomfortable situations.

While certain elements of that may be true, I’ve come to learn that bravery is many things; and it’s certainly not something that can be wrapped up in one definition. Being brave doesn’t always look like jumping out of an airplane or doing dangerous things. It doesn’t have to be speaking in front crowds or facing your biggest fear.

Being brave, I have learned, is recognizing your inherent worth as a child of God and holding yourself to a standard of nothing less than that.

It’s saying no to something you want, because you know that God has what you need. It’s fully believing that you deserve to be cherished and treasured. It’s holding out for God’s will and boldly walking in firm “yes”’s and “no”’s to get there. It’s making small but meaningful choices that come from a place of faith and a willingness to obey; rather than fearing you might somehow mess things up.

Bravery is acknowledging that we, nor other people, are powerful enough to ever ruin God’s plan for our lives. When we let that sink in to our hearts, that’s when bravery begins in us. When we fully see that we are living lives in which every event has been ordained by a sovereign and completely loving God, bravery is second-nature. And while being brave might still entail uncertainty and unknowns, there is beauty in every brave moment and action we take.

Bravery is merely living.
It’s showing up in each day, as hard or difficult as it may be. It’s cherishing the sad moments. It’s letting yourself feel what you’re feeling. It’s letting it all engulf you and take you in because when we do that, we are held within the hands of God; carried under His wing; protected by His love for us.

I recently saw a quote that said, “do not waste your suffering, for it will be the making of your faith.”

Bravery is embracing suffering.
It’s the bold decision not to run away, not to isolate yourself, and not to become void of hope and peace. It’s brave to live life by the knowledge that God has called you to where you are right now, with every circumstance and situation that it includes.

Bravery is a lot of things.
The common thread, however, is that bravery takes on a whole new and refreshed meaning when you believe in God and have faith in who He is. No longer is it about how much strength you can muster up to accomplish or get through any given experience. It becomes entirely about your trust in the Lord.

Do you really believe that all of His promises are true? Because if you do, you will see your true worth as a child of God. If you do, you will see that nothing you have done, are doing, or will ever do can separate you from the love of God. If you do, you will see that you are completely powerless apart from God. If you do, you will see that He is a God who does not waste suffering, who does not bring us through circumstances without a reason; who sees our pain and feels it with us, and whose heart breaks when ours does.

Oh loved ones, how brave it is to choose a life completely surrendered to Christ. How glorious a conviction to hope and trust when all seems lost. How wonderfully broken and bruised we will become when we do, but how beautifully we are being refined through it all.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

This verse screams bravery to me: it’s brave not to lose heart and it’s brave to see the hardships and struggles of this life as light momentary affliction. It’s brave to trust that His ways are higher than our own.

I never would’ve said I was brave until God opened my eyes to see that it’s because I had the meaning of the word all wrong. In the moment I wanted to hide my face and distract myself, in the moment I wanted to say “yes” but knew I should say “no”, in the moment I wanted to sell myself short, God’s promises remained and made me brave.

So, rather than bravery being this grandiose gesture, to me, it’s a choice we get to make about how we live our lives. You can either turn to yourself or turn to God for strength, for bravery. Only one of those options will actually satisfy, only one of them will deliver. Only one of them loves you more than you could ever love yourself. Only one of them did the bravest thing of all by dying on a cross to save you.

Only one gives you a source of hope; not that which is seen, but that which is unseen.
Not that which is fleeting; but that which is eternal. The choice is yours.

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