A New Kind of Brave
In the last weeks of my pregnancy, I plopped down next to a woman on the rower in the middle of a workout class. I could see her gaze move towards my belly and then up to my eyes. I was expecting some sweet sentiment or well wishes. But I found myself caught off-guard as she uttered three small words:
"You are brave.”
Yes, I realize she was probably referring to the fact that I was still attempting to waddle my way through an OrangeTheory class at this point in pregnancy. But her words stuck with me for one reason: I’ve never heard them spoken to me before.
I grew up learning how to evaluate every decision to minimize risk and regret. I did my best to avoid anything that frightened me or that might result in failure. To me, bravery was associated with danger and uncertainty and instability and spontaneity. I don’t like any of those things. So, I came to see myself as safe or maybe even smart, but never brave.
But motherhood. This strange, beautiful gift revealed a new kind of brave.
When our baby girl came into the world on November 7th, I was overcome by an unparalleled joy and love. After losing our first baby and experiencing the scare of a second miscarriage in this pregnancy, Emma Quinn felt like our own little miracle from the moment we heard her heartbeat.
Yet, the joy I felt at the arrival of our baby girl was shortly followed by some of the lowest lows I’ve ever experienced.
This is when God changed my definition of bravery. Bravery was no longer about a grand, dangerous adventure. It was in the small steps forward.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” - Winston Churchill
Here are the new ways God helped me redefine bravery:
Bravery is getting out of bed each morning (especially if it’s at 1 a.m….and 3 a.m….and 5 a.m.).
“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Bravery is saying yes to help (yes, please add me to every meal train available and hold my crying baby while I nap and bring me ALL THE COFFEE).
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
Bravery is thanking God for His goodness through tears of exhaustion (Lord, this one is SO hard).
“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Bravery is letting go of past comforts to embrace new joys (like the exchange of sleep for baby snuggles and smiles).
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:18-19).
Bravery is trusting God to carry you through situations that seem impossible (and there will be LOTS of impossible-seeming situations).
“For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
Bravery is choosing to let go of guilt about what you “should” be doing (because the mom guilt is REAL).
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
Bravery is choosing to rest in God’s grace instead of striving to do and be more (because God’s love is not dependent upon a clean house and folded laundry).
“‘Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light’” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Bravery is made possible through God’s strength, not yours (thank goodness, because my strength ran out a long time ago).
"But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Bravery meant moving forward when I didn’t know the outcome. It meant taking a step forward without the assurance that my foot was going to find solid ground beneath me. It was the decision to continue.
Maybe you’ve walked through experiences like that. When every step feels forced, like there are weights tied around your ankles and it takes all your strength to put one foot in front of the other.
Wrestling through the conflicting feelings of Postpartum Depression while you hold your brand new bundle of “joy.” Feeling alone and isolated as you stay at home with multiple littles ones. Watching your teenage kids hide their lives behind closed (slammed) doors. Aching for relationships with grown children who are busy with work and friends and lives that don’t involve you. Crying out to God for the chance to have a child of your own.
"You are brave”...I think God knew I would need those words for the days ahead.
Maybe you need to hear them today:
You are brave.
Read it again.
YOU. ARE. BRAVE.
You are still here. You are still moving forward. You may feel weak, but you have a God who is strong. And merciful. And loving. And it takes bravery to admit we are weak, to confess we don’t have all the answers, to agree that we need Jesus.
“…‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…’" - 2 Corinthians 12:9a
Discovering a new bravery wasn’t about the sudden realization of “I can do this!” or a sudden rush of energy and renewed motivation. It was looking back and recognizing that I absolutely could not do what I just did on my own. Yet, God knew exactly what I needed every step of the way.
I bet you’ve made brave decisions today that you wouldn’t have considered brave before. Be encouraged by your “courage to continue” and thank God for His strength when we are weak.