Brave: A Compilation

For the last month or so, in this time in quarantine, I have asked people to write on the word brave. I asked people to write the stories of bravery. Or, to share where they have seen bravery. Where they have been brave. And, lastly, I asked what does brave mean to you? In this compilation you will see a wide variety of responses and approaches to this prompt.

I learned far more about the word brave and what it means to me through reading the words shared to my inbox for this compilation. I also learned a lot through writing different pieces myself on the word brave. And, in many ways, as you will see threaded throughout this compilation is that brave isn’t always what we expect it to be. It is both quiet and loud. It is both something within and something enacted on outwardly.

It is threaded throughout each of our own beings and lives. And, if you are someone, like me, who often has a hard time seeing that you too are brave, I hope these encourage you to see differently.

You all are in for something special with these reads. Thank you to these writers for so vulnerably sharing their words for the rest of us to connect to. And thank you all for reading. If there is a particular piece in here that really speaks to you, let the writer know— that encouragement can go along way in acknowledging their bravery in the writing.

Without further ado, here are the brave writing pieces:


“Grief is a Cocoon”

Her name was Lonely. She had lots of friends and she felt deeply loved by her family, but Lonely never felt satisfied with her name. It simply didn’t fit, she’d reason. She didn’t understand why her parents had named her that. “Didn’t they know that I’d be teased for it?” she wondered when she laid awake at night. No one was really teasing her, but she’d imagine that they did, behind closed doors. She never rarely imagined that they were teasing her when they were around, but when their smiling faces weren’t there to reassure her that she was liked, she felt that they hated her name and mocked her for it. So she went on, hating her name, but loving her life. She had basically all she could ask for, even though there were days that were bad and moments that felt incomplete, she couldn’t complain.

When Lonely turned 16, her parents told her “The Secret of Life.” Lonely knew something was missing, some vital piece of knowledge or adventure to be had, so when they told her that she was going to be let in on the “big secret,” Lonely couldn’t believe her luck! Finally! 

They pulled her in close and whispered, “When you’re wrapped up in darkness, all you can do is not let go.”

“WHAT?!” Screamed Lonely. “THIS is the big secret? It’s not an adventure? This doesn’t help me at all. This isn’t some great piece of wisdom, this sounds way more like a horror film. No thanks,” she stormed out of the room, full of angst. I’ll just make my own way. No one can trap me in that darkness. I simply will choose to keep my head up and I will avoid all dark places! So Lonely went on, avoiding the shadows.

When Lonely turned 20, she had pretty successfully avoided shadows and was living a rather fulfilling life. That is, before the ache began. She began to ache and ache. She pulled up the covers to push down the ache and then she decided they weren’t heavy enough. So, she became a seamstress. She sewed up her own heavy, weighted sort of quilt. Her friends laughed along and shook their heads . . . Lonely was always up to some new thing.

Lonely loved her new quilt, but she hated it too. It held her, it trapped her. It made her warm, it made her sweat. She stopped seeing a life without the quilt and she always had to carry it around. Her friends began to worry that the quilt was taking a toll on her, but she made excuses. “I’m a seamstress! It reminds me to sew!” She would justify. 

Some nights, she would try to sleep without the quilt, and she could. But she’d always miss it and need it’s warmth. She’d always wrap it around herself and be reminded of the time she took up sewing. 

After a few years of this, Lonely slowly began to realize that the quilt was keeping her from living. She knew she would have to give it away, but she felt she wasn’t strong enough. One day, as peace flooded over her, she brought it to the homeless shelter and gave it away. But the very next day, she came back and bought it for twice the original price. Lonely couldn’t imagine life without it. It was worth too much to her.

Everyone told her that maybe the quilt wasn’t the problem, that maybe it was something deeper, but Lonely was so sure it was the quilt’s fault. If only it wasn’t so warm and cozy! If only it wasn’t so beautiful! If only I hadn’t spent so much time making it! One day, Lonely looked at the quilt and saw that it was beautiful, but felt a deep knowing that it never meant to be her’s, although she didn’t know why. 

With this revelation, she breathed in all the bravery she could and brought it up to the most expensive department store in town for them to put a price on it. The store clerk told her that the workmanship was so beyond anything he had ever seen and the perfect wear on it made it a priceless piece of art. She smiled with tears in her eyes, “I know.” Then she added, “You can have it.” The department store clerk was shocked, “FOR FREE?!” clearing his throat and gaining his composure once more, “For free? Are you sure?” A part of her wanted to rip the blanket out of his hands– of course she wasn’t sure! Who could ask such a question?! But another, deeper, richer part of her whispered: “Yes. I’m sure” She heard her voice respond in the same way. The clerk nodded, feeling an eerie sense that he had entered into a holy, solemn place with the girl. He shook his head, not quite understanding her or her decision, but respecting her bravery. “Okay! If you say so!” and he took the blanket to be sold to someone else. 

Lonely came back to her room and cried for 3 days straight. She had no quilt to keep her warm this time, which made the crying both worse and better. There was nothing to do now. She would wait for the quilt to be sold and she would do all the things she couldn’t when she had to carry it around. But she didn’t want to do anything anymore. She thought she’d feel free and joyful, but she mostly felt a battle between confusion and confidence. Which would win? She didn’t know. She felt the darkness settle in, so instead of resisting, she got comfortable. Then a little voice brought to her mind the time her parents told her: “When you’re wrapped up in darkness, all you can do is not let go.” So she decided not to let go. She didn’t know how long it would take or how long she’d feel stuck, but she knew not to let go and that was enough for the moment. For once in her life, she decided to embrace her name and let go of all the fear that someone might tease her for it. Lonely is what her parents named her, so Lonely she would be.

A few weeks later, Lonely walked out of her room and her friends gasped. “WHAT?! Is there something on my face?!” Lonely shrieked. They whispered in awe, “Go look in the mirror.” She walked up to the mirror and saw many delicate butterflies painted all down her arm. Glistening, iridescent, and surreal, Lonely traced the butterflies with her fingertip. Tears rushing down her face, she thanked the secret artist who painted her arm and whispered in revelation: “It was a metamorphosis.” 

After the incident, everyone began calling her “Butterfly.” She always smiled at the name because it reminded her of that cocoon of grief she lived in. It reminded her that she had to embrace her true name before being given a new one. It reminded her that she was brave enough to give away the quilt she so carefully made. It reminded her she could still be a seamstress without it. It reminded her that her name came with a price. But most of all, it reminded her that it was worth it.

Melanie Beadles 


 

what does bravery look like for the lion hearted?

for the one whose second nature is to

jump

leap

lead

stand

rise

raise

move

onward

toward

forward

without fear

 

what does bravery look like for the brave one?

the one honored as resilient and powerful,

the one who wishes she didn’t have

so many places where she had to be

 

what does bravery look like for the fighter?

for the little girl who had to make her own rules

who was thrown into the battle early on

pushed and pulled

to be stronger,

tougher,

better —

capable,

competent,

and brave.

 

maybe bravery for her looks unlike any would have guessed —

a gentle kiss

soft licks from a kitty

admitting she was wrong

being afraid

saying yes to what she wants

trusting again

not having it all figured out

feeling pretty wearing make up

feeling pretty without it

 

a flower budding

the sound of light rain

crying in front of a man

asking for help

getting angry

not being okay

expressing how much she cares

having high hopes

leaving a mess in the kitchen

leaving a mess in herself

 

laying in bed all day

splurging on perfume

someone calling her sweet

staying still

being carried

feeling loved

letting go

giving grace to others when they make mistakes

giving grace to herself when she does too

writing again…for the first time, in a long time.

 

you see, we think bravery has to look like this fierce, bold, and bright act of defiance against the laws of nature and our own will. but more often true bravery looks like being yourself, and having enough room to welcome whoever that is. bravery can look like conquering the mountain and championing a foe — it can also look like sitting in a chair, baking bread, singing a song, letting the light in.

 

for the one who was brave before she was born,

who feels safer in risk than in her own still skin,

who spent all those years stretching, reaching, striving to be brave —

let the warm and lovely tenderness of your soul be exactly what and who it is.

for then, you will be brave.

Alex Cooper 


 

Please stop putting bravery on a scale

Stop trying to measure it 

Stop trying to see if yours looks the same as everyone else’s

If you have that moment 

When your heart speeds up 

And there’s a voice in your head that asks “are you sure? 

Maybe it’s safer to not” 

And you even think about doing it anyways

That’s enough bravery for today 

Maybe one day you do the thing 

The thing you’ve been afraid of doing for so long 

And that’ll be enough bravery for that day For some people, bravery is skydiving like they’ve always wanted to

For others, it may look like walking outside of your house when anxiety has been crippling you for months 

Maybe it’s finally calling that girl and asking her on a date 

Or calling a parent you haven’t talked to in years I don’t know what being brave looks like for you 

But whatever it is, please have grace with yourself 

Stop being so hard on yourself 

Stop having expectations for how your body should react when you choose to be brave Take the steps you can when they feel safe for you 

Nothing more, nothing less

 Let that be enough 

That’s brave

Haley Naylor


“Brave doesn’t look like I thought it would, but then again the older I get not much else does either.  

A lot of small voices accumulated into a roar that said Brave meant I would change the world. 

A pat on the back at my highschool graduation party along with a card that said “world changer”

“You’re gonna do big things”

Somewhere along the way Brave and Bold got confused as Loud and Impactful.

But as I dug deeper and unwound the voices whispering these things into my ears, I found that there was more bravery in the staying than in the going.  

Brave meant staying when I wanted to run. 

Brave meant pressing into the holy and uncomfortable moments.

Brave meant, in the words of my favorite blogger to “punch fear in the face and drink good coffee” 

Brave meant choosing to believe that small acts of kindness were actually louder that the grand sweeping gestures that I could have performed on a stage.

Brave currently means choosing to sit with those who feel unseen and making extra cups of coffee for my roommates in the morning and digging my hands into soil and flour.   

Brave means that I stay and invest and plant roots when I want to go ahead to the next best thing. 

Brave means waking up early and soaking in the golden light and choosing to believe that there is enough to go around. 

To have enough courage to find my own definition of brave and wear it proudly.”

Lauren Welsh 


Bravery

 I see bravery in the upper-middle class 50-year-old mom who takes every precaution she can to wipe down the groceries and avoid all germs for both herself and her grown kids.

 I see bravery in the 22-year-old undergrad who is willing to slow down and face the trauma from her childhood because she has the time to process through it.

 I see bravery in the 27-year-old refugee who continues to work two jobs to provide money for his family in South Sudan.

 I see bravery in the 22-year-old refugee who has stopped working in order to stay healthy.

 I see bravery in the dad who is also a doctor and goes into work each day even though he doesn’t really feel like being a hero right now.

 I see bravery in the professor who gives grace to some of her students right now because they are currently caring for their six siblings at home, but who also expects other students to continue working and succeeding as they were before.

 I see bravery in the 30-year-old mom and dad who have now taken on the role of homeschooling 3 kids on top of their now virtual day jobs.

 I see bravery in high school students adjusting their entire life/learning structure to fit into a laptop.

 I see bravery in the students who feel unsafe in their homes that they are used to avoiding with school and sports.

 I see bravery in the kids who are taking advantage of the chance they now have to play outside more.

 I see bravery in friendships that are building up on trust that cannot be supported by in person contact right now.

 I didn’t realize how much I could see here from inside the walls of social distancing.

  Anonymous 


“My anger never meant that there was something wrong with me. It meant that there was something wrong out there.” – from Glennon Doyle’s Untamed                                             

Anger 

 The last few years I have been angry with Anger.

  Anger was always violent to me. So, I ran and hid from it— knowing I was not strong enough to take its blows. 

Only, I realized that what I was hiding from was also residing within me—crippling me and controlling me through a different kind of violence. I was not absent from Anger and Anger was not absent from me. 

 No, I did not yell, throw, or hit. I pushed away from all that infuriated me and fell deeper into Anger’s arms myself. The further I fell into Anger’s arms, the further I fell into fear of the anger around me and within me. 

 I understand this need to yell, throw, and hit— this need to gain control of your body, in losing control of your body. But, I was far too afraid to let my body get there. And, sometimes… I was angry I couldn’t let my body go there. 

 I wanted to break something. I wanted the release. 

 All the Anger I knew within me was from different things that had happened to me. My Anger grew from the impacts of Anger. But, I was okay with allowing it to take up a space that stayed quietly hidden within me. That was up until my Anger was no longer about what was happening to me… 

When I began to see what had happened to or was happening to people I loved: 

        When I saw more of the injustices I was once not seeing…

         When I saw how the church was hurting people…

         When I saw the government was dehumanizing people…

         When I saw how I was hurting people…

                        I grew Furious.

My anger grew into Anger. It needed to step out of the hidden and quiet space— it needed a release.

 

But, again, I pushed away. Not knowing what to say.

I didn’t want to offend, yet I really wanted to offend.

I was so damn tired of being quiet—

And passive.

  

However, the quiet Anger within me grew loud and I could no longer be quiet too…

___________

 There is a lot wrong with the world. That really won’t change. I know that. And I am angry about it. Really angry about it. 

 

And, I am angry it has taken me so damn long to freely admit I am angry.

         I am not just the quiet, peaceful, soulful girl who writes.

         I am fiercely strong and incredibly weak. I feel deeply and I let myself do so. 

I have a fire stirring up inside of me that is not one in the same with my Anger. But, they sure are friends— they propel me to speak. They are what lead me to write the words on these pages.

I am both the gentleness and the Fire within. I am both the quiet and the scream. I am both the peace and the storm.

And, yes, I still say sorry when I speak for “too” long. Or when I let me Anger and fury out. Or when I share my strong opinions.

 But, I am not sorry. I am sorry that I thought I had to be sorry.

 I am not just a teacher, a coach, a friend, a sister, and a daughter.

Apart from what I do, I am a whole human being who has a full range of emotions within me.

 I am a fighter— who is still desperately afraid of Anger and her own anger. But, who is more afraid of not facing it.

And yes, I am still (and always will be) incredibly fragile. But, what I will not do anymore is try to protect my fragility with everything within me. 

         Let me break.

         Let my pieces shatter out onto the floor.

         Let the anger fall too. And let it be heard.

And then, let me be pieced back together. Transformed with each break.

 

I am angry.

And sad.

And joyful.

And fearful.

And frustrated.

And anxious.

And brave.

 

I see it more now. I will fight for it more now. And people can see what they see, while I begin to learn how to do me, without worrying so much about what they are seeing. 

Let the Anger release and mold me.

Bailey Frederking


 

“Brave” is the small, cracked inhale before emerging from the charred rubble of first, second, third and fourth attempts. 

She’s the defiant and subversive breath of anticipation that creeps into your atrophied lungs. 

She’s the raising again of your hand to tenderly brush the dust of your failures from your bleeding skin. 

She’s every small and feeble movement of your body, soul, mind, and spirit through the carnal desire to freeze in order to remain safe.  

She’s the decision to allow the light to come in again before you have the comfortable certainty of knowing whether it will burn or soothe. 

“Brave” is not big or loud like anger or passion but delicate and frayed like a flower that chooses to bloom in a bed of thorns or a small moment of grace in the aftermath of great harm. 

She doesn’t announce her arrival; she doesn’t need to. 

She doesn’t hold arrows, armor, or arguments. 

She was born without the ability or desire to keep any of the promises you’ve required her to make. 

She’s the openness of a heart unraveled and extended in all its glorious imperfection. 

She’s the warm glow your hand holds when you thought the last beautiful thing had slipped through your fingers. 

She’s the precious voice that reveals the radiance of the journey and while you’re still a long way off, reminds you that you are more able and deserving than you know. 

Shelby Frank 


 

Every person I take the time to know has a story that will make the muscles in your face tense and stomach flutter. I have always valued and seen beauty in those stories, but not in my own. My story makes me build up a gate to keep everything in and others out. The most brave choice I have made and what I call my “floodgate moment” is the first time I told a friend I had been a victim of intimate partner sexual violence.  

The feelings behind the wall I built were dark, lonely, and bred rampant shame. Being brave initially felt like an emotional hangover. Telling even a fragment of my story felt like pouring alcohol into a cut and felt like giving a finite part of myself away. I remember not being able to get sentences out amidst the tears. I remember the look on my friends face as I told my story. Most vividly, I remember the before feeling of what it’s like to hold it all inside.

The instinct to distance from this part of myself still runs deep, and I often feel disassociated from my body because of what happened. For a while it felt pointless, but small victories pave the way to becoming shame resilient. I have gotten to support and navigate the legal process with a teenager who was sexually assaulted. I get to share my experiences with a therapist who conducts research that brings light to age-old rape culture within religious organizations. I have given myself permission to deconstruct what I believe about myself and God, knowing I might emerge believing nothing at all. Most importantly, I get to share the comfort of saying this happened to me too.

My favorite musician says that “yes you need to be there to plant a garden”. When I want to walk away from this part of myself, I have to choose to stick around. I know this deconstruction is going to require me to dig deep and to open up, but I owe it to myself to continue to choose bravery. Through the unknowns, the one thing I am sure of is I don’t want to miss out on the garden. 

Anonymous 


 

Sometimes I feel like I’m a ghost

Wandering around from place to place

Wondering if anyone would ever look me in the face

 

Why does everyone see right through me?

Do I belong here?

 

Sometimes I feel like I’m a wave

Roaring and crashing into rocks and sand

Wondering if maybe

Just maybe

Someone would wave back from land?

 

Why does no one ever wave back?

Do I belong here?

 

Sometimes I feel like I’m a star

Twinkling and glittering in the sky

Wondering if someone is looking back at me with a glimmer in their eye

 

Why does no one ever twinkle back?

Do I belong here?

 

Lately I’ve felt like I’m a flower

Dancing and singing with laughs of color

As if singing a song

To the One who created me

 

I see Him singing back

I belong here

 

Lately I’ve felt like I’m a tree

Standing tall and waving free

Branches thrust upward, searching for a  Hand to hold

 

I see His Hand reaching for mine

I belong here

 

Lately I’ve felt

More like myself

For I know and I see

That this is who I’m made to be

 

I know

I belong here

 

For I was searching for other things

To make me feel treasured

While the true gift

Was right in front of me

 

But now I see that I belong

For I stopped searching

And started abiding

And there I found the desire for which my heart longs

 

It takes bravery – you see

To be a ghost

Or to be a wave

Or to be a star

Or to be a flower

Or to be a tree

And especially,

To be me.

 

For it’s in the longing

And in the waiting

And in the crashing

And in the falling

That we find our weakness

As well as our strength

These are all essential steps

In this process of growth

But first we must see

That we were made to be free

 

But if I spend my whole life

As a ghost

Or as a wave

Or as a star

I’ll spend my whole life

Searching for someone to see me…

And I’ll miss the beauty

Of who I was made to be.

 

For this is a waste

Because the only One who can truly see me for me

Already does.

 

I have found

That courage grows beneath the surface

And bravery is the water

That seeps into our roots

 

Sometimes the bravest thing you can do

Is to let go

And know

That who you are

Is exactly who you were meant to be 

Hailey Hawkins


 

Bile creeps up your throat as you find your seat on the itchy blue couch. Heat rushes up your body coupled with a feeling of lightheadedness, a result of nerves and a lack of sleep and proper nourishment. You know you should have treated your body better, but what is the point?  

The wooden block toy table in the corner, a fixture of every pediatric waiting room, mocks you and confirms you are a child, unable to care for yourself. Classical music plays softly overhead and you can’t help but to fixate on the French “Adventures of Tin Tin” posters to affirm you are indeed in the wrong place. 

The last few weeks have indicated this is necessary. You can’t find your footing. Fear and anxiety lie ahead while grief and regret lie behind you. The perfect, organized, color-coded ROYGBIV, neatly stacked life that you had laid out is now a heap of rubble and try as hard as you might, you don’t have the tools to reassemble it. How do you admit defeat? How do you admit failure? How do you raise your hand and say “I can’t do this anymore”? How do you say, “I need help?”

You sit there eyeing the door with dread and fear. You could leave. You could send an email explaining you weren’t ready, this just isn’t the right time. You could say you can handle this on your own, but deep down you know this is your hail mary. You’re running out of options. You can’t go back-it’s not possible. You don’t know how to move forward. 

Grief and broken trust is what caused you to walk through the door in the first place, but what makes you think the person on the other side is trustworthy? How do you approach a perfect stranger and unfoil every dark place in your mind, body and soul? How do you let the wall down? 

The door handle turns, blood drains from your head, you stand and follow. You catapult into uncertainty, unfamiliarity and the unknown.  You emerge unscathed, slightly better than before though not quite whole again, with a renewed sense of ability, autonomy and most of all hope. 

 Meghan Murphy 


 

Digging

“Between my finger and my thumb

The squat pen rests.

I’ll dig with it.”

 

Shovel in hand,

You make your way out.

Walking to the earth-spot,

You feel the blisters

Begin to smart on the handle.

 

You’ve been digging for days,

But you feel different now.

You started timidly,

Unable to give the shovel a good push.

 

When you arrive, you get to work.

Your muscles feel sore but strong,

Capable. 

Your hands feel tattered but useful,

Connected to your body.

 

You don’t quite know what you’re digging for,

Sustenance,

Discovery,

Discipline,

 

But you know that digging is the brave thing.

You know that digging calls you to be unafraid of the underneath, of what you’ll dredge up.

Digging requires space and time that you have to ask for,

An accepting and acknowledgment of the self.

 

So you dig.

For yourself, this time.

 

Between the dirt and the freedom

The shovel rests.

I’ll dig with it.

Maggie Dryden 


The bravest people I know// an ode to my team

 

We sat in a circle- 

more of an unorganized cluster of broken humans. 

And we admitted our fears. 

Our hopes. Our deepest hopes. 

Our pain. 

Stopping to laugh at mishaps,

and celebrate success. 

We dreamed. Planned. Pushed. Tried. 

 

Failed. 

 

Failed and lost. 

 

So we sat in more unorganized clusters.

And we admitted our fears again. 

Gave them up to each other and to our Father. 

We continued to dream. Planned. Pushed. 

Tried with everything we had. 

 

I watched as the other 9 broken humans 

stood up,

and went out.

and got knocked over. 

Even got kicked in the face a few times,

but went out again.

Choosing to give everything,

for nothing in return. 

 

Bravery isn’t a story of victory, 

but the choosing to keep on.

To shake off the dust, 

the harsh words,

the looks,

the judgement,

the darkness.

And to choose to keep loving. 

 

Love with no agenda-

each other and all others. 

 

These people are my definition of brave.

Hailey Lombardi 


 

  1. My Mom’s bravery

Everyday, for your whole life

You went to work

Not just any work,

But work where you lived

Day in and day out

In people’s worst days and hardest seasons

With angry and rich

Poor and immigrant

Cancer and sobbing mother

Alone old widow

Young widow too. 

 

I didn’t learn until much later

The way you avoid conflict

Near constantly, you hate it.

But every day you went into conflict

With a cup of coffee in hand

Every day into the belly of the beast

Knowing the worst was there, 

And you walked right into it

Did you know the only peace

Would come from your bravery

To do the thing every day

That scared you most?

 

     2. Post-grad Bravery

I know bravery

Because i’ve seen it with my eyes

A picture of alabama farmland growing

Applications for grad school

The choice to move home

One-way ticket across the country

 

I know bravery

Because i’ve felt it with my feet

Walking halls of McGlone

Streets of DC and sidewalks of brookhaven

The empty houses of Athens

The pavements of Raleigh

Bravery isn’t a place, no

But I walk in it when I’m where

The brave people are

 

I’ve heard bravery too

Coworkers asking how we’re doing

You calling depression by its name

(People feeling– feeling is brave, 

Maybe the most brave)

The sounds of tears and laughter

Feeling the fullest range of life

Choosing not to miss even one second of it

 

Bravery’s smell,

The smell of a send-off pot of pasta

Made in love before a big change

Spring flowers on the banks

Press into another season against all odds

The bread, secret strength small and

Bubbling it tall and sturdy in the fire

And the bravery tastes good and tart

Always a bit unexpected

 

Bravery, given shape by the people around me

Who show me every day what bravery is

Katie Lynch


I’ve seen bravery when my friends share their own personal struggles – it can be a tragic past, abusive parents, or an ongoing health problem. I met two wonderful friends, and I thought that they had everything together until I learned about their hidden issues. Hearing their tough times has made me feel more appreciative of them. After all, the best way to know people is to know their own personal stories. I have been brave by not giving up and to finish what I’ve started even though it can be scary. To me, brave means to stay bold through the trails and temptations and to consider it all joy.

Nick Soong 


I’ve been staring at the page for a while. I wrote a response a few days ago, but I wasn’t proud of it. I decided that I just wouldn’t submit anything this go-around. That’s what I did last time, though. In fact, I can turn a few pages back in this notebook and see my response to the last prompt. But I never shared that piece. Why?

I’ve recently become aware of a thought pattern that attacks my deepest dreams, desires and convictions. It’s the belief that someone else is always more _________ than me. Fill in the blank with what you will. There’s always something occupying that space. Someone more talented, more equipped, more passionate, more articulate. Someone who is smarter, skinnier, funnier. There’s certainly someone out there whose writing piece will be better than mine. While these things may or may not be true, I’m tired of this belief holding me back from pursuing my dreams.

For me, bravery is believing that my voice is valuable. It is finding the courage to share, to speak up, and to pursue opportunities when I feel the least qualified. Bravery is embracing failure and realizing that rejection can bring about immense growth and freedom. Bravery is believing that my Father truly delights in giving me good gifts. To be honest, it feels safer to settle. Why try when someone else is more _____ than me?

I’m tasting and seeing that there is immense joy to be found in the pursuit. There is newfound hope and expectation, new heights and depths to love. There is often grief and heartache, too. But these are accompanied by rediscovered strength and confidence. I’m realizing it’s a bigger risk to settle. It’s a bigger risk to believe that it’s not worth the effort. Today I choose bravery. I choose to believe that my voice and my life matter. And I beg you to believe that yours does too.

Katherine Glover 


 

Listen in.

Can you hear it? 

I know. It is scary. It is scary to sit and to be alone with your breath. To be aware of the rising and falling of your chest. To allow it to sink deeper. 

But, listen in. 

You are here. Resiliently being. 

Listen to your heart beat. How alive you really are. 

Listen to your mind. I know you are constantly hearing it speak. But leave the noise for a moment and really pay attention to all that your internal is speaking. It may surprise you. It may bring about your fears. Or the depths of lies and insecurity. The pain may come rushing forward. The bitterness may unfold into its anger. Your sadness may release into tears. Let it. Lean in. Sit with it. Listen to it all. 

I know. It is scary. But, try it. Get to know yourself. See the depth and the beauty beneath. 

What is it that you need? Listen to the answers crying out within you. 

 

Do you need to be held? 

Do you need comfort? 

Do you need someone to listen? 

Do you need affirmation that you are enough? 

Do you simply need the presence of a friend? 

Do you need to let all that is within release? 

Do you need sleep? 

Do you need someone to acknowledge your pain and beauty? 

Do you need to break? 

Me too. 

 

What is it that you feel? Listen to the answers within every layer of your being. 

 

Are you sad? Has there been any loss lately?

Are you disappointed?  Have any expectations not been met by reality? 

Are you angry? Has there been something wrong in the world that you have experienced    or seen? 

Are you frustrated? Have there been circumstances that are difficult to understand? 

Are you lonely? Do you feel the absence of people around you and with you in life?

Are you scared? Is there pain within you that feels terrifying to face? 

Are you fearful? Are the “what ifs” crippling you whenever you think? 

Are you happy? Has there been a contentment and new freedom in this space? 

Are you any and all of these on any given day? 

Me too.

What is it that you desire? Listen to the answers that quickly arise when you are being honest and vulnerable with yourself. 

 

Do you want someone to just show up to be with you in whatever it is you are walking through? 

Do you want security? Feeling a bit unsettled with all the unknown and shifting of plans? 

Do you want comfort? Is all of this overwhelming you and a hug or a hand to hold important to you right now? Or the comfort of a warm cup of coffee and a blanket wrapped around you? 

Do you want freedom? From the pain? The insecurities and lies? The past? The pressures? The fears? 

Do you want ice-cream and a long car ride away to escape? 

Me too. 

Listen to it all. You deserve that. It may feel crushing at first, but it will lead you into new grounds of bravery. And the sitting and slowing and listening may be the bravest thing we can ever do. That, and then letting a few people into those spaces with us. Let someone listen with you. Let them listen to you.

Breathe. 

Be. 

You just allowing yourself to be and to listen to yourself is far more brave than we ever allow ourselves to see. 

It is scary, yes. But, lean in. 

Bailey Frederking 

This is what I wanted to leave you all with. Life is hard and complex. And we, as human beings, are also incredible complex and unique. Yet, we carry within us so many of the same struggles. Fear, worry, insecurity, loneliness, heartbreak, sadness. At one point in time we all feel too much or not enough. We all worry about acceptance. We each want to be loved. We all are afraid of some parts of ourselves. And, we each are far bravery and far more valuable than we ever see. Your brave may look different than someone else’s. Your brave may even look different for yourself on different days. Let it.  My hope in all of this is that somewhere and somehow you felt encouraged through the words shared here. That the bravery and the words of these writers spoke to you and connected to you. That is where writing and sharing our writing can be incredibly powerful. When we reach the moment of, “Oh wow, it isn’t just me” we can take steps into more freedom and bravery.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

And a huge thank you to the writers here— your courage in this all has greatly impacted me. I never take it lightly when someone chooses to share their writing. Thank you for entrusting us all with your words and thoughts. We are better because of it.

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