I’ve been asking myself these questions:
What does it mean to be a brave woman?
Am I brave?
The remarkable women behind We Brave Women have got me thinking. One of them is our dear friend, Zina, whom we love for a thousand reasons. The We Brave Women project and hashtag have been blowing up my Instagram feed (you should follow them @webravewomen and spend a few moments reading through the #webravewomen posts. It’s powerful inspiration for your day). Women everywhere are posting about why they are brave. It is a beautiful use of social media, a medium I have a love/hate relationship with and that is often used for filth, snarkiness, and dissention.
But like I said, I’ve been wondering, Am I brave? Usually when I think of bravery I picture a soldier going off to war or a suffragette in 1915 or Ruby Bridges walking into school that first, epic day. I think of tremendous physical feats. I picture risk takers. That’s not me. I’m just a normal girl, living her normal life.
But even so-called normal life is hard, as I’ve openly written about lately not only here, but on Instagram. Which is sometimes embarrassing because then people bring me dinner and apparently imagine me dying over here. And some people have actaully called me brave for being willing to share the real struggle of life with 4.5 kids rather than sugar coat it. And honestly I can’t decide if being so open is brave or stupid.
This is what I can tell you.
When I was preparing to be an LDS missionary, I was marginally terrified. I was ready, I was excited, but I was scared. I found bravery in this New Testament verse:
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.
(1 John 4:18)
It came together like magic in my mind. All I had to do was love the Lord and love the people. Everything else would be OK. Every time I walked in snow up to my thighs or stood on an unknown front porch or asked someone to accept Christ I remembered that all I had to do was love. And I felt brave.
Sometimes, in my role as Mom, I’ve been slow to draw on the lessons I learned as a missionary. Slow to remember that the very same God will teach me and show me the way now, just as He certainly did then. I don’t know why I’m so bad at remembering, because, frankly, being a parent is approximately infinity times harder than anything I’ve ever done before. But I am bad at remembering, so I’d kind of forgotten that scripture and certainly hadn’t applied it to motherhood.
But Sunday, as I was marinating in the question, AM I BRAVE?, the scripture on the board in Relief Society (weekly Mormon women’s meeting) struck me to the core. Our wonderful teacher said that it had long been a favorite of hers, and I’m adding it to my short list as well.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
(2 Timothy 1:7)
And suddenly it all came together in my mind and heart.
I live in a state of fear or worry most of the time. I’m worried my children aren’t getting enough of my time. Fearful about adding a baby to this circus now in session. Terrified that I’m not measuring up to the other women in the world. Afraid I will never again have the energy I need to be everything my family needs me to be.
ENOUGH! The spirit urged me, as I let those words sink in. THAT IS NOT OF GOD!
And for the first time in months I understood that although my brain is being poisoned by over-zealous hormones, and my body is entirely exhausted, God is more powerful than all that. I realized that God’s grace (=power) will lift me out of my apathy. He will grant me energy. He can help me love more purely. His strength can become my strength.
If perfect love casteth out fear, then aren’t fear and love opposites?
Then isn’t love synonymous with bravery?
In that case.
I AM BRAVE! I am brave because I love. I love the Lord. I love my husband. I love my children. I love the life I’ve been blessed with. I love YOU. All I need in this world is loving relationships and all I can really give in this world is compassion.
I am brave.