We grab for a dry towel when water splashes into our eyes.
We talk through all possibilities and potential scenarios so we won’t freak about what’s new and different.
We inch into doorways when there’s a room full of new people.
We’re not adventurers or discoverers, explorers or conquerors. We’re not risk-takers or rock-the-boaters. We’re not the movers or the shakers.
No, we’re planners and organizers. We’re the faithful and the hard-working and the folks dipping their toes in all gentle and nervous on the side of the pool to test the waters before jumping in.
That’s why we celebrate every victory in our house, every display of courage and every hint of bravery.
When my most fear-prone daughter announced this was the year she was really going to ride an actual roller coaster instead of the kiddie ride at Busch Gardens, we cheered her on.
I took pictures. We celebrated and high-fived after her victory.
And when my older girls went on to try out other roller coasters, we looked straight in their eyes and told them we were so proud of the courage in them.
Even when my one daughter tried a roller coaster and hated it and complained that it was creepy and made her afraid, we still celebrated because she tried it.
She doesn’t have to ride again—that’s wisdom. In Let’s All Be Brave, Annie Downs says, ‘The road to courage is lit by God’s wisdom.”
But to overcome her fears and try at all—that’s courage.
We celebrated a daughter not crying or freaking out over allergy testing and a toddler who climbed up onto the potty.
In just a few days, we’ll cheer them on as they step onto a yellow bus and head off to a new classroom, with a new teacher, and new classmates.
I’ve been spending all these years of motherhood cheering for my daughters to have courage.
I tell them:
It’s okay to make mistakes, so just give it a try.
I tell them:
God is with you, so don’t fear. Just relax and trust Him.
I tell it to them and maybe along the way I’m preaching to myself.
Sure there are plenty of other kids who have faced down bigger and badder roller coasters than we’ll ever dare to try. We’re no daredevils after all. But still, that’s not the same as true bravery.
Bravery doesn’t require doing what everyone else is doing or trying to keep up with or match the accomplishments of others. Courage is so personal; it’s not about you being like anyone else.
And, while not feeling any fear at all can make you look courageous on the outside, it can also make you foolhardy.
That’s not what courage is.
Being brave isn’t the same as being unafraid. Bravery means doing the right thing no matter what, even if you tremble in your sneakers and even if your stomach flip-flops with fear.
You trample all over the anxiety and the worry and the fearfulness and you do it anyway.
You don’t let fear control you, imprison you, or hold you back from what God has called you to do.
Those men and women of courage in Scripture didn’t follow God without facing their own fears.
When Mordecai told Esther that she needed to petition King Xerxes for the rescue of her people, she told him why that was too much to ask:
“All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days” (Esther 4:11 ESV).
Esther, the poster-child for Biblical courage, was scared out of her mind. She knew she couldn’t obey God on her own so she asked her to people to fast and pray with her for three days before she finally set one foot in front of the other and walked into the throne room to see the King.
She was terrified. But she took a stand anyway.
That’s being brave: Obeying God even when you’re afraid.
God’s calling can cost us. It can be frightening and unsettling. He can ask you to face down giants or ask you to face down change or ask you to face down the unknown.
In all circumstances, he tells His people to “Be strong and courageous.” He knows, after all, that we aren’t naturally strong or naturally courageous.
But He also knows we take courage from His presence.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2015 Heather King