Brave Words

“Say what you wanna say / And let the words fall out / Honestly I wanna see you be brave.”

(Sara Bareilles, ‘Brave’)

You get a text asking if you’re interested in taking on a big assignment. Or your old nemesis from high school (totally a thing) sends you a friend request. Or God confronts you about how you’ve deeply hurt a family member. All of these require responses, and goodness knows, your flesh has a way it wants to answer.

3/4 of the way through my year of brave, I’m thinking about what courage says. Despite my love of black-and-white thinking, having guts is irritatingly situational. What does brave sound like? It depends.

Brave sounds like yes.

For those of us with an addiction to protective boundaries or major fear tendencies, yes might be how God plans to stretch our faith. He loves us and cares about our well-being, so we can be courageous the next time we’re invited to join in an adventure—whether it’s hosting a small group, inviting someone new out for coffee, or accepting the mic on karaoke night.

Brave sounds like no.

People pleasers, listen up. Because we have the complete pleasure of God over us, we’re free to establish some limits with others. No doesn’t have to sound mean; you can decline in such a way that whoever asked feels weirdly blessed by the encounter. If yes isn’t the wisest answer for this season, you’re free to take a bold and gracious pass.

Brave sounds like let me pray about it.

I’m often tempted to immediately commit to (or turn down) an opportunity based on what I think I can handle. Asking for some time to lay it before the Lord establishes a rhythm of curbing my pride and self-suffciency. Besides, God deserves the chance to override my preference in any situation. When I give myself space to listen, peace follows from acting in line with what He wants.

Brave sounds like I’m sorry.

Another pride murderer. As lovely as it seems to not need Jesus anymore, it’s just not possible. We’re dependent beings with a massive proclivity to screw things up. Relationships comprised of two sinners will get messy at some point, and if we can extend grace enough to choke out a genuine apology, we invite Christ right into the middle of our friendships with all of His strength and mercy.

Brave sounds like let’s try again.

Failure is one of our culture’s biggest fears. Because we’re fallen people in a fallen world, though, it’s inevitable. When you’re having another freakout moment or if you fell off the healthy wagon again, you have a choice: mistakes can be followed by either giving up or by learning and moving on. Allowing yourself second (or third or two hundredth) chances takes some guts.

Brave sounds like silence.

Sometimes silence is golden (and brave) in moments of emotional intensity. Is that coworker trying to push your buttons again? Deep breath, no retort. Are you walking a sister through a crisis? Sitting with her quietly might be the best balm for her soul. Do pauses in the conversation make you nervous as a mentor? Wait for God to move while you listen to the silence together.

Brave sounds like the Spirit.

We’re faced with a thousand tiny chances to be brave every day. The courageous answers we give will sound different, but if we sway to the rhythms of heaven with our ears cocked upward, our brave words will be a glorious song to the world of a good King worth being brave for.

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