Some years ago I was with some of my dearest people and we were giving words of affirmation to each other.  Isn’t that lovely?

One of the words spoken of me was “Brave”.  It startled me, because I didn’t think I was brave at all.

I’ve learned, since then, that courage or bravery is not the absence of fear.  It is standing in the midst of fear or anxiety and showing up anyway, doing the right thing, facing difficulties, even not being afraid of my mistakes which are inevitable.

Even when we are brave, sometimes we need a “time-out”.  Time-outs are not just for toddlers or upset children, but I’ve come to believe that I too need a time-out at times to stop and breathe, to evaluate, to think about my response, rather than a reaction.  Sometimes this happens later than it should, when I already have regrets about my actions or words.  It is good to pay attention!

Putting on the Brave to me means showing up with the right attitude.  It needs to be cloaked in love, worn with respect.

I love acronyms, so here is one for you:

B:  Be Bold!  I can be timid, I shy away from controversy, I am a people pleaser.  But there are times to use my words, to stand up for what I believe is right, especially when it comes to standing up for those who are being bullied or abused.

R:  Respond, not react.  This is a mantra for me, one I need reminding of at times.  When I stop to breathe, evaluate and listen, my response is usually much more loving and reflective.

A:  Be Authentic.  I am part of the human race, and I don’t always get it right.  Even as I am brave, I am also real.

V:  Be Valiant.  The dictionary says this wonderful word means to show courage and determination.  To me it says, don’t give up, you are valued.  Hang in there!

E:  Be Empathetic.  It is always good to see things from another’s view point, to hear where they are coming from.  It opens the door to conversation, understanding and mutual respect.

Bravery isn’t seeing things my way or even pushing my point of view.  Bravery is showing up, and using my actions and words to make a difference.  Sometimes this means taking a stand.  Sometimes this means saying no.

I’ve known some incredibly brave people.  In my work, I often sit with people who are facing death, and I am amazed at some of these dear folk, who will lovingly say to me, “how are you doing today, Grace?”.  It blows me away.

I know others who show up, day after day, to do the most difficult of tasks, caring for the very sick, and even those who do not or cannot give thanks.  I applaud nurses and social workers and the many others I work with.

Our communities are filled with brave people, often unnoticed, who show courage each day.  I want to be a noticer, to thank them, to remind them how much they matter.

Being brave has been part of my calling.  It isn’t always easy to be a woman in ministry.  Most are incredibly supportive and encouraging, it is sad the few voices against women in ministry are often loud and hurtful.  In truth, I didn’t always support women in the pulpit or ordained roles myself. It was a mystery to me.  I come from a conservative past, which often came with patriarchal thinking.  I’ve come to see the love of Jesus and how he reached out to women, he valued them, he included them in ministry.  There has been much joy and affirmation in my calling to ministry!

I respect those who don’t agree.  But I will also stand up for those who feel marginalized, for those who are the target of harmful, hurtful, unnecessary words.  Jesus taught us to love… there is no other way.

Sometimes I hear these beautiful whispers in my ear, which I believe come from the One who loves us.

“You are loved.”

“Just show up.”  (Sometimes this calls for bravery).

“Use your words.”  And while there is a time to be silent, there is also a time to use our words, lovingly, respectfully and carefully.

I love these words of the Apostle Paul, speaking to his disciple Timothy:  “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love, and self-control.”  2 Timothy 1:7

And these words for us today:  “Be strong, and of good courage!!”  (1 Chronicles 28:20)

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