There are so many ways to be brave. Doing something that needs to be done even though you’re scared. And not doing something everyone else is doing when it feels wrong. Standing up for yourself or others. Speaking out against injustice when it would be so much easier to stay quiet. Facing a tough diagnosis with hope and patience. Being there for someone when they are hurting. Each of these experiences is the right thing to do in a less than wonderful situation.
What is your idea of being brave?
Sending love and encouragement to anyone going through a less than wonderful time right now.
Sometimes it’s easy to respond in love. People are kind; you’re kind in return. Someone is generous to you; you pay it forward to someone else.
But sometimes it isn’t easy at all. Sometimes it feels like the world is on fire, and everyone is rushing around thinking only of saving themselves. You feel vulnerable, exposed, in danger. You are on emotional high alert, alarms clanging. What then?
It is in these times, that any shows of love shine like light in darkness. Focusing on expressing your love gives the people you care about safe harbor. Focusing on being gentle with the people around you can calm the tide.
In her delightful book, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, Lori Gotlieb relays this encounter with her therapist:
“I’m reminded,” he begins, “of a famous cartoon. It’s of a prisoner, shaking the bars, desperately trying to get out–but to his right and left, it’s open, no bars.”
He pauses, allowing the image to sink in.
“All the prisoner has to do is walk around. But still, he frantically shakes the bars. That’s most of us. We feel completely stuck, trapped in our emotional cells, but there’s a way out–as long as we’re willing to see it.”
We cling to what we think is an agonizing choice between A and B and don’t even see choices C-Z. Sometimes we have the choice not to make a choice at all, to not be part of the conflict. Sometimes choices are knee-jerk reactions that maybe, if we had just paused, we will regret. Sometimes we need to step back and consider.
If only all of our choices could be made from a place of hope, seeing the best in ourselves and our neighbors, looking to build up rather than tear down, reaching for healing rather than harm.
Why do some people become so bitter? They can’t seem to shake the hurt, that victimization they feel, and they just want to drag down someone else to wallow in it with them. If the blame for the problem is always seen as someone else, they never have anything to confront in themselves or to fix. It’s out of their control, they think, so they just rage.
But is it really? We all get hurt. We all at one time or another are mistreated. But to stop the harm from infecting our hearts and making them bitter, we have to learn how to forgive and let it go. We have to be able to not let that damage change the way we show up in the world. We still have the ability to choose our response and the kind of people we want to be.
Someone may hurt you, but don’t let them poison your life even long after they’ve left.
For Lincoln, it wasn’t a choice between peace and war. It was a choice between war and a divided nation. Peace would not have solved the larger issue of whether slavery should be tolerated. If he had framed the issue as a choice between peace and war, the country might look quite different now. To make a difficult decision, you have to consider what you want most, the ultimate goal, and then consider what is necessary to get there. It may be a long road to reach that goal, but if you settle along the way, you may not ever get there.