I used to believe bravery included a well-worn passport — one stamped with adventure from cover to cover. I thought courage consisted of daring risks, life changing experiences, and escapades sure to grace the gritty insides of a novel.
And this, perhaps, is still true. I do believe these things are brave — but surely there’s more to bravery than just this. Bravery is biblical. It’s an idea I believe Jesus is rooting for, and it’s one I want to root for too. The more I long to know courage, the more I have realized it is a choice and not a feeling. I’d like to choose brave more often. I’d like to choose it every day.
When I look at the bravest people in my life, I see a pattern. They choose bravery, over and over and back over again. I’m certain they don’t feel brave all the time — in fact, they’ve told me quite the opposite. But they choose brave, not because they feel it, but because they know — deep within their quivering bones — that bravery is strongly connected with freedom.
If you feel as though your bravery cup is close to empty, let me tell you some practical ways you can choose brave today:
1. Wake up. Get up. Show up.
This might be the hardest part of your day — the brave act of slamming your feet on the floor and deciding to show up where you’re needed today.
2. Write a letter to your body.
I’ve done this twice now. I can’t tell you it’s gotten much easier, but I can tell you it’s worth it. Be honest when you write your letter, but more than that, be kind. Try and view yourself through the lens as someone wildly worth loving.
3. Tell yourself you are beautiful.
Tell yourself you are worthy. Tell yourself you are enough. Maybe you aren’t convinced of those things yet, but sometimes if we practice something for long enough we’ll eventually start to believe it.
4. Be vulnerable.
Brené Brown says, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they are never weakness.” Being vulnerable with someone — though most of the time incredibly terrifying — is one of the bravest things we can do. It’s brave for us, and it’s brave for the person sitting there listening.
5. Ask someone their story.
Who are you? Where have you come from? What are your dreams? Each time I’ve reached out my hand and asked someone their story, I consistently feel as though I have been given a precious gift.
6. Say no.
I find saying no hard. I like to do everything, and often times it scares me that if I say no I’ll miss out. But when I need more margin in my life, or when the circumstance feels stressful or anxious or not right for me, saying no offers me freedom and gives someone else an opportunity that might be exactly what they need.
7. Say yes.
Just like saying no can be brave, so can saying yes. Say yes to that wild adventure. Say yes to that risk. Say yes to that brave, terrifying dream.
8. Admit you’re wrong, and say sorry.
I’m not so great at this one. I’m working on it.
9. Affirm someone’s significance.
I focused on practicing doing this during the summer. I was working at a camp, and I made sure to relentlessly affirm the seventeen-year-old girls who were there. The first few times I told them I believe they’re significant and important and worthy, I felt ridiculous. But then I saw the tears in their eyes, and I recognized it wasn’t about my feelings of insecurity, but about theirs.
10. Write down your dream(s).
Take a pen and write down your dreams. Physically scrawl them down — in a notebook, on a sticky note, on the back of a receipt. Be brave. Write them down. There are no boundaries — just dream.
11. Pass your brave on.
Find someone who’s scared and pass on your brave. Whisper that they’re brave too.
I often go back to what our friend Annie says: God made you on purpose and He made you to be brave. I’ll try and choose brave today. I hope you will too.