I’m usually brave.
Her words are bold—and true. She often walks up to strangers and starts conversations. She’s fearless. She expects the world to be a good, kind place and she meets it with the same energy. I didn’t want to crush her spirit, so I let her words hang on the air, pregnant with all the possibility. She feels brave. I love that she does.
But I know as an adult that she’s not actually brave. She’s unafraid. She doesn’t see how high the tree is off the ground because she knows I’ll catch her when she jumps. She doesn’t see all the little strings connecting that have the potential to spin her world upside down on a whim. The butterfly effect is outside of her comprehension. She is fearless.
I long for that fearlessness. I was the girl who wanted to go as fast as possible. I raced horses, road roller-coasters, skied and snowboarded. I roller-bladed down steep hills, often sporting scraped knees and elbows. I climbed trees and jumped to the ground. And did it again and again. I always thought I would bungee-jump and sky dive.
I’m not that girl anymore
Because now I see how high that tree is off the ground. I feel how hard and unforgiving the ground is. The knowledge of all the way all the things can go wrong rests heavy upon me. I know the world is dark and scary—that monsters are masked as a grandfather. A friend. A neighbor. I know that one wrong turn or stop can end my life as I know it.
I am not brave.
I have been held captive in fear. Terrified of the things outside of my control. And it’s different for me. I’ve never thought of myself as someone who is afraid. It’s a new thing. And I don’t like it. I’m the mom who took a three and two year old to Africa three years ago. But this past Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to go visit my sister in Uganda. And I didn’t. Because I was afraid. And that’s when I finally admitted where I am. I missed out on an amazing adventure because my brain sky-rocketed to all the worst-case scenarios (which, at the time, included contracting ebola.)
And then my five year old’s words loosened something inside me.
I whispered to my heart, to my children, and to my Jesus
Brave isn’t the absence of fear—it’s doing it anyway.
And that is sinking deep into my bones. The words washed away the scars and raw, exposed skin. It healed something in me that had broken open.
I don’t want to be fearless.
I want to be brave.