I love the Pixar movie ‘Brave’, and most especially its main character. ‘Merida,’ a Scottish highland royal, is a spunky princess with a fiery spirit. She questions everything and she resists restrictions of every kind. Yet as the plot unfolds, Merida discovers what real bravery is, and owns it in a way that’s true to her story. Along the way, she realises that – contrary to what she first thought – courage is not escaping the realities of her life but rather facing them head on – learning compromise and contentment on the journey.
The women I see all around me are all kinds of brave. All kinds of strong. All kinds of courageous.
- Bravely longing
Im thinking first of those who quietly carry the weighty burden of unfulfilled longings.
… a soul mate to live life with
… a child of your own
… a friend to open your heart to
… a body free of pain
For now, it seems like all around you people are celebrating their attainment of what seems so far out of your reach.
Some of you sob silently in the car, in the shower, after every wedding, social occasion, a dedication service you attend. Longing yawns at your soul like an ever widening chasm that you can’t escape.
You want to hide away. But the majority of the time you don’t. You attend that engagement party, wedding, baby shower, choosing to shower your friends with gifts, meals and love.
Even in the depths of deep longing, you continue to cultivate contentment and grow in gratitude.
You are your own gracious and generous kind of brave, even when you don’t feel it.
- Bravely Misunderstood
I’m thinking here of those of you who are ambitious, gifted in leadership, and career-minded. You have been painted as hard-nosed, cold, detached, or as having a hidden agenda. You’re the threat in the boardroom, the butt of chauvinistic jokes, the brunt-bearer of laddish humour. You laugh it off as you smart inside. You hold it together there and then and cry your tears later.
It hurts, but it won’t stop you striving for excellence, growing in your gifts and getting those promotions.
You are your own delightfully determined kind of brave, even when you don’t feel it.
- Bravely Battling
We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.’ The fact is, some of you are fighting private battles we will never ever know about.
Whether it’s hormonal issues, digestive problems, anxiety, depression, abuse, or traumatic childhood memories … you drag yourself up and out, go to work, smile, serve others or tend to little ones’ needs. You do your best work. Every single day. Even on the days when your best is simply lying in bed, crippled with pain.
Even those days.
You are your own tenaciously tender kind of brave, even when you don’t feel it.
- Bravely exhausted
Some of you caregivers are living bravely in the midst of your exhaustion. Whether it’s looking after multiple babies and toddlers, partners with depression, parents with dementia, or children with complex needs; you pour yourself out day on day, year on year, for the dignity and flourishing of others – often with very little support or respite.
You are bravely exhausted. But you’re effervescently courageous, even when you don’t feel it.
The women I see all around me are all kinds of brave.
Courage comes in all shapes and sizes. It looks different for every person. But it always involves facing facts, summoning strength to persevere, having the humility to make changes, and cultivating a sweet spirit along the way.
Let’s remember, though, that bravery is not something that needs to happen alone.
If you are experiencing complex challenges in life, you may feel invisible to the world. But you are not. You are seen by God. And you are cared for by so many.
Join a ‘strong girls club’ near you today. Reach out to other courageous women you see around you. Because when you are your own kind of brave before others, they will catch your courage, and they will pass it on.
Be your own kind of brave, but don’t be brave alone.