As defined by Merriam-Webster:
Having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear and/or difficulty. Having or showing courage. To face and endure with courage.
Do you know someone who is brave? Think about what brave means to you and give yourself a chance to spend some time thinking about those around you. What about someone in your family? Maybe someone in your inner circle? Is there someone in the community in which you live that you might consider brave? As I was writing last night, I could feel this blog entry coming to life. As today went on, I knew exactly who I was going to keep in the forefront of my mind while writing this, and without mentioning any names, I hope she reads this and figures out it’s about her. I’ve told only one person about tonight’s entry, and the person I told knows this woman much better than I, so if I miss my mark, I’m sure somehow I’ll find out…
Brave. Brave to me means so many things. I’ve been told so many times over these past several months how brave I am. Maybe I am, but I see what I’ve done over these months as many more things than just brave. I’ve done so much out of love, with determination and without knowing what would come next. Facing the unknown takes bravery, sure, but this isn’t about me. The woman I’m focused on is much different from me. I’ve never met her in person, but I know her. I also know about the woman that someone else made her out to be, but I can tell you as sure as I am sitting here she is NOT that person at all. This woman is one of the bravest people I have ever had the pleasure to know.
It takes a tremendous amount of bravery to stand up to, and push back against someone who bullies you. Bullies know this. When someone sets out to destroy you and tries without ceasing to hurt you and those you love, you either have to stand against the attack or turn and run from it. Running away takes bravery as well, but standing firm and facing the hurt is beyond brave. It shows strength of character, and when that bully is trying to hurt not only you, but your child? Um, I don’t think so! I have had a front row seat (in a manner of speaking) to such actions and I have been amazed by the bravery, and tenacity shown. I know this woman would willingly lay down her life for her child. The fact that she has been a single mom, willingly working to co-parent with the father of her child while being attacked relentlessly by someone bent on destroying her shows so much bravery. She could have very easily made the father’s life a living hell, but knowing that he was already there because of someone else gave her the strength to not be bitter. Bitterness can look a lot like bravery in some ways, but I believe the bitterness would always seep through the fabric of any life and overshadow the braveness. Being brave takes strength, being bitter doesn’t. Being brave takes form in so many ways, sometimes people mistake it for foolishness, or recklessness, but it’s neither of those things. It’s having the will to keep pushing forward when you feel so alone. Bravery is taking chances without knowing the outcome, but working hard to make the outcome as good as it can possibly be.
People have mistaken my bravery for foolishness many, many, many times and I think back to the days I thought about the woman I am writing about and how foolish I thought she was. Those thoughts were wrong, misguided and beyond foolish on my part because I believed what someone else had said about her. I believed that she was the villain in the story that was being spun by a jealous and petty person. I have since apologized to her, and have been watching her acts of bravery unfold. Raising a child alone is not easy, she does it with grace. Being alone and worrying about the future isn’t easy, she faces it with a straight spine and a firm resolve. I am honored to know her, and to be able to say I admire her is a blessing. We can all learn things from one another, as long as we keep our pride in check and are willing to accept the lesson. I’ve learned that being brave looks different for each and every one of us. I want to be brave like this woman. I want to love without reservation, I want to fight for what’s right, and true, and good. I want to be brave enough to step out into the unknown and live without fear. I have done this, she has done this, and we all should do this as much as we possibly can. Living isn’t for the faint of heart, I’ve come to fully accept that.
Living with bravery doesn’t happen naturally, it takes effort, lots of effort. It also means that we will fall, fail and get hurt. We’ll be bullied, lied about, stepped on and demeaned. That’s okay. It took me all these years to realize that every hurt, every lie, every incident of being bullied has been turned into a lesson. I’m not okay with being treated as less than, but that’s not on me, it’s on the person being mean. Bravery means walking away and still finding it in your heart to forgive. Like the Lord’s prayer says “Forgive our trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against us.” Being able to forgive is a form of bravery. Being able to forget? Well, if anyone really knows how to do that, please advise me, I seem to have trouble with the forget part of forgive and forget.
I hope that I’ve been able to convey in some small way just how brave I think the woman I’ve written about is. She is strong, beautiful and definitely brave. She doesn’t deserve to be bullied, vilified or scorned because someone else thinks she is not worthy of kindness. As much as I wish I didn’t believe this, I think we are all worthy of kindness. Being worthy doesn’t give license to kick people when they’re down, or spread lies about someone. I am living proof that no matter how much you love someone, try to help someone or want to be connected to someone, if the other person doesn’t want you in their life, they’ll be cruel, hateful and unbending. I’m also living proof that the human spirit can thrive in the face of hatred, pain and scorn. We just have to be brave enough to believe in ourselves. Not an easy task at all…