“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt
More than once, after listening to me wrestle with a decision, a dear friend has wisely asked, “What’s the brave thing to do?” Not, “What do you want to do? What’s the easiest thing to do? What’s the convenient thing to do? What’s the least controversial thing to do?”
“What’s the brave thing to do?”
Yesterday, someone told me I’m brave for something I revealed in a recent blog. It was a compliment, but also acknowledgement of the risk of self-disclosure.
Bravery’s hard. Bravery requires risk and vulnerability. Bravery requires facing the likelihood of danger. Bravery requires stepping out of the shadows, and into the light. Bravery requires facing the possibility of failure and defeat. Bravery requires the courage to be real, to be exposed.
Bravery’s hard. In my High School Psychology class, I learned about the fight-or-flight response to danger. I’m definitely a “flight” kind of guy! My natural tendency, when feeling vulnerable or attacked, is to retreat to somewhere safe. I know I feel threatened, any time I realize I’m avoiding, isolating, or hiding. I know I’ve forsaken bravery, when I betray my convictions, by remaining silent or feigning agreement or consent.
Some time ago, I noticed, every reference to courage or bravery in the Bible is a choice – “Be brave…take courage…” Bravery is a choice.
If I choose bravery, you may not like what I say or do; you may not agree with me; you might be angry with me; you might judge and condemn me; you might fight back; you might reject me. If I’m brave, I might lose. But, if I’m not brave, what have actually gained? Anything? If I’m not brave, I’ve already lost by consent.
On the other hand, if I choose bravery, I might become your friend; I might be your ally; I might be your advocate; I might be your defender; I might be your hero; I might even inspire bravery in you, too.
Bravery’s risky business. But, everything worthwhile is.
I want to be brave, even when I’m not. I want to say and do brave things. I want to take stands for the things I believe. I want to be brave for those who can’t be. Even when there’s a personal cost, and always a risk, I want to be true to my convictions. I want to be brave.
I want to choose bravery. Don’t you?