I have been reading and discussing a lot about bravery in my classes lately, and its been on my mind a lot. Exactly what bravery is, and what it looks like. How to know when your being brave and what it feels like. I might have shared a few moments when I was brave or felt like I was stepping out of my comfort zone and being courageous, but I've never shared my view of what I think the word brave actually means. And deep conversations like this are my favorite.
I know people who believe bravery is based upon actions that are done for others, and fight for honor such as, police officers/firemen, or military service. Yet I hear other people say that bravery is an act that takes courage no matter how big or how small, as long as you take that first step and overcome your fear in someway. I believe it is both. Both are acts of bravery, and courage, but I believe one is no greater than the other. Who is to say who is brave, or what actions are to be called brave? Something that take an enormous amount of courage for one person, could be very simple and easy for another. Of course certain tasks take more bravery than others, but that does not mean other people are limited to what we call having "bravery".
I remember my freshman year in high school I went to summer camp with my church, and stayed on a house boat all week. It was my first time being away from home, and going to summer camp. So throughout the week everyone thought the greatest things about living off a house boat is that you could sleep on top of the roof and jump off of it into the water. Well, I am deathly afraid of heights! There was no way I was going to jump off the boat, nor could I even stand or sit on the edge because I felt as though I could fall in. Being that close to the edge was just too scary for me, and my stomach would feel all funny. But by the end of the week (my last night) I finally jumped off the boat, into the water! It was a huge accomplishment for me. Even though it was small I finally gathered enough courage to step on the edge of the boat, and even jump!
So even though I became courageous and brave through this little moment, I remember my friends doing flips in the air while jumping, and doing many other crazy things. And I felt like my accomplishment wasn't that big or even important anymore. But it was! I overcame my fear of heights, and jumped off the boat...while having to much fun doing it. In the end it was worth the risk.
So my point is, whether you take those first steps like I did at the edge of the boat, or performing those crazy backflips in the air, you are still being brave. I might have had to take more courage of overcoming my fear of heights, then my friends who were adventurous and bold who flipped in the air, but no matter what level of bravery you take, its still bravery! Some things require a lot of courage while some take smaller amounts of courage. My amount of bravery will be a different from yours.
The most important thing is not to get caught up in saying who is and who isn't brave. Who has the courage to be bold and to do courageous things, and who doesn't. Being brave is something internal, and very personal. It's more important to show grace and compassion for others in certain circumstances because you never know what they are going through, or what fears and concerns they might have. One of my favorite quotes is by Ian MacLaren..."Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."