The other night I attended a book signing at Sustainable Faith Indy. Aside from my spiritual director, I didn’t expect to know anyone else at this event. As I was walking on the sidewalk, approaching the house, I thought to myself: “You are brave!” Normally when I attend an event like this, I either bring someone with me or I plan on meeting someone there. Neither was the case this time. I was alone and a little nervous, but I walked up the steps anyway. I was brave.
Bravery looks different for everyone…
Getting out of bed in the morning might be brave.
Asking for a raise or advocating for yourself at work might be brave.
Stepping out of the car knowing bullets may fly might be brave.
Talking to a stranger might be brave.
Going on a date might be brave.
Sharing your true feelings to someone you know well might be brave.
Writing a blog might be brave.
Dancing in public might be brave.
Choosing to be silent might be brave.
Crying in front of someone might be brave.
Saying “no” might be brave.
Saying “yes” might be brave.
Taking a trail on your own might be brave…
There are so many ways each of us chooses to be brave everyday. I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for our bravery. I know I don’t. So, when I was walking on that snowy sidewalk acknowledging the bravery inside of me, it was easier to keep walking, to go up the stairs, to ring the doorbell because my bravery gave me the extra strength I needed to take those final steps.
I walked in the door and almost immediately I made eye contact with a woman. I knew her. Surprisingly, it only took me a moment to figure out from where I knew her. We’ve never spoken and I don’t know her name, but I know her face. Yoga! We have practiced yoga next to each other for a few weeks. We’ve breathed and moved and stretched and said “Namaste” together, but we had never introduced ourselves. And now, because I took those last few steps, because I chose to leave the house even though I really wanted to bail and just stay home, here we were in the same place, together.
Bravery means opening yourself up to new possibilities – whether that be the possibility of a new day when you get out of bed or the possibility of a new friendship when you walk in a door. I have no idea where this connection will lead. We might become friends and we might not. However, because I was willing to take an uncomfortable step – because I was brave – I opened myself up to the possibility of something new in my life. And the next time I’m not certain if bravery is the choice I want to make, I’ll remember this time – the time when I was brave, when a new door opened – and then, maybe, I’ll make another brave choice.
Bravery also means stepping into the unknown trusting that something good is waiting for you. My whole life feels unknown right now. Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration – my whole life isn’t unknown, but a lot of it is. It’s scary not knowing. And yet, I’m facing the unknown and that is a brave thing – to face something you don’t know, something you can’t control. (And let’s be honest, that’s all life is – we like to pretend we know and control, but we don’t and we can’t.) I truly believe there are amazing opportunities waiting for me the darkness – I know that God, the Universe, Life has good things for me. Unfortunately, right now, I can’t see two feet in front of me. I have enough light to get to the next thing and that’s it. So, taking that step every day toward the darkness, toward the unknown – that’s brave! Taking steps toward new life and new opportunities – that’s brave! And, similarly, knowing when to slow down or take a break or rest for a while, well, that’s brave too!
I don’t want to take my life lightly. I don’t want to brush off getting up every morning or making dinner at night or meeting a new friend or talking with my husband or walking the dog or going to yoga day after day – these are not things to take lightly! These are brave steps toward a whole and full life.
In the words of Mary Oliver, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
My plan right now is to keep showing up – to be brave.