I was standing on the ledge, preparing to step backwards off of a mountain. My heels hanging just slightly off the edge, attached to some ropes that were tied around the waist of our repelling instructor, who apparently was not even required to wear a shirt to work. We counted off “1….2….3…”
No movement. I froze. Maybe you’ve seen the video. I went into panic mode. I jumped straight from bravery to terror in just one short minute. We laugh about it now, but in that moment, I wanted to be anything but brave. I had taken a chance and now I was stuck standing in a place I never wanted to be. I want to tell you that in that moment, I took a leap of faith and everything was fine. That’s not what happened though. I entered into a 20 minute panic attack that involved a group effort to step away for me to cool off. Guys, it was the most embarrassing moment of my life. I think the ONLY positive thing that came out of that moment was that I get to tell this story.
Here’s what your favorite inspirational quote or song forgets to capture about being brave. It feels impossible. Taking risks can feel the opposite of what dreams are made of. Your stomach knots up and the “what ifs” chant their theme song behind each step you take (or don’t take). But risks involve emotion and action and sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind.
I have to tell you though, I’m not that person. I’m more of a fear girl than a brave one. Fear is “great” because you’re always prepared for the expected, even when the expected doesn’t happen. Fear is “great” because it’s paralyzing instead of freeing. Fear is “great” because it holds your hand and says “you can’t”, especially when you can. Fear was my best friend that day on the ledge and each time I looked down, fear would whisper “What good will that rope do?” and “You’ll probably hit the ground and break all of your bones”.
I didn’t though. I took a step (which actually ended kind of comically because my foot got caught and I flipped upside down), but I survived. And after that [failed] first step, I continued on and landed with both feet on the ground.
I’m entering into my 6th month of playing “You Make Me Brave” on repeat. Have you heard it? Go look it up. I recently read an article on how we sing one thing on Sunday and live another way on Monday and unfortunately that just hasn’t been the case with this song.
I wish. I wish I could tell you that I’ve sang the words “You Make Me Brave” and it has not affected my heart in any way shape or form. I wish I could tell you that I have not been challenged to take risks that I didn’t think were possible for me to take. But instead, this theme has begun to consume my life. I’m starting to have to face my fears and anxieties on some things that have chained me for so long now. I feel like I’ve spent so much time and effort running from God when I know I have to face my fears, and He is slowly teaching me that I don’t have to live this way anymore.
It’s easier said than done, though. Because sometimes risks hurt. Sometimes the first step is the hardest because it doesn’t go the way you planned and it can flip you upside down. Sometimes the risks you take don’t make you feel like your heart is dancing. But the risks you take by stepping out will help shape and form you, especially in your faith.
I’m not brave today. But I’m trying to be. God is teaching me to be anxious for nothing and that He is for me, not against me. And each risk I take is an effort to be released by the fear that consumes me. I know I am not being challenged to be brave because it will make me happier, but because it will make me stronger. So, here’s to stepping back off the platform in honor of being brave.