I’ve been talking about bravery lately, particularly with those who participate in my Rise Up Writers group.
“Be Brave,” I say. And I believe it.
I wonder, though, if my attempts to encourage others come out with the scent of tainted waters.
Because, for many of us, we have smelled the stench of pride and we know we fight against it. The idea of putting on brave seems all at once appealing, yet also wholly undesired. To be brave seems to imply a sense of self. Self-importance. Self-ability. Self-actualized courage. Self-focus. In many ways this perception is perpetuated incessantly by the world around us.
When the world tells you to be brave, it’s usually accompanied with the words, “Believe in yourself.” “Believe you can & you will.” “Just believe.”
As if this is enough. As if the power is ours and it’s up to us to be brave – on our own.
Allow me to say, it’s not.
Believe in myself? With all my imperfections which keep rising to the surface? No thanks. I need more.
Believe I can? What if reality is that what I want to believe I can do is something I really can’t or shouldn’t do? I need more.
Just believe? In what? In whom? I need a whole lot more.
Too often, the unwritten message says, believe in yourself.
And I heartily disagree.
This kind of brave wears an appealing fragrance of truth while covering a heap of stinky lies. When I see this slogan sold to us over and over again, I cringe.
The kind of brave I refer to is far from self-empowered. It is a recognition that we can not do this, whatever this is for you today, in and of our selves. It’s a recognition that we were made to need God. To rely on Him, not ourselves.
“Be brave,” I continue to say. And I still mean it.
This kind of brave doesn’t look like a victory chant. It looks like surrender on a field of self-defeat, waving the white flag. Where surrender to the King is the noblest and safest kind of defeat/victory possible.
No longer I. But you Lord. Oh, how I need you.
Too often we fight against God, His truths, and the ways in which He works, which are so far outside the ways we can comprehend. They don’t make sense. They’re topsy-turvy to the ways are hearts are inclined to go.
When He chooses to do something which we find uncharacteristic of what we think he should do, we’re left trying to figure out solutions on our own or seeking truer answers in Him alone. May it be the latter and not the former.
When we choose the way of surrender, we find our pride waving the battle cry where the only way to win is to die.
It’s ironic. It’s unpleasant. It’s not the way we want. But it is the way of God and it’s the way to true freedom and peace.
Jesus did it.
He chose to surrender His right to prove everybody else wrong. He was more ‘right’ than anyone else around him, yet, He didn’t fight to prove it. When they asked what He thought, Jesus was humble and honest. He didn’t shirk from who He was, but He didn’t force their understanding either.
He gives each of us the freedom to choose Him.
To trust Him.
To surrender to Him.
To believe in Him.
To put our faith in what He can do and desires to do.
To be brave because of Him.
Can I tell you honestly? I struggle to lean into this kind of brave. Regularly. In these last few days I’ve fought hard against it, all while knowing how my pride needed to lay low so humility could take over.
It’s hard. It’s painful.
It’s worth it. A reminder I need daily.
We fail to be brave when we choose to believe in ourselves. When we choose to believe we have what it takes in our own understanding and our own abilities, without God.
We fail to be brave when we think we have to force the issue of rightness.
We fail to be brave when we choose a fleshly fight over surrender to spiritual empowerment. When we choose to fight against God instead of against our own pride.
But we can be brave I say.
Choose the brave way of surrender. Allow the painful work of spiritual correction which causes hearts to be transformed from believing in self to believing in God.
Choose the brave way of putting hope & faith in Him and not in yourself.
God gives grace to the humble which means that when we surrender we find a good and gracious God. The path of surrender leads us into safety, where we can truly begin to live well.
God is ready to reveal His goodness in new ways. As believers, we have what it takes to rise up, to fight another day, and to live well, because we have the power of Christ within us.
We are brave because we have Christ. We are brave because we live for Christ and die to our wayward and self-absorbed ways.
To choose the way of surrender is the bravest way to live.