I’ve never thought of myself as brave. I’ve quit, avoided, and run away from things that scared me (including a job that gave me panic attacks). But I want to believe, at least for the things that matter most, I usually stick it out. I ran my first 5K, having never been a runner before. Then I did another one a year later. I remember that one because I felt like garbage the entire race. I was questioning myself with every step. There was no runners’ high, no race endorphins, just struggle. If I hadn’t had the leader of my training group running with me, I’m not sure I would have crossed the finish line that second time. At the end, when I saw my time, I realized I had run a full minute per mile faster than the previous year. I thought that improving meant feeling more confident, but the reverse proved to be true.
I keep thinking that eventually I’ll be able to coast downhill; that if I build up enough momentum I’ll be able to breathe for just a moment without slowing down. Yet some of the best things in my life have come when I was dragging myself, uphill all the way, just putting one foot in front of the other and not at all certain I’d get where I was going. The year after my daughter was born, she didn’t sleep more than two or three hours at a time (save for two nights that I’m convinced were some kind of supernatural respite or cosmic joke). My husband suffered a severe relapse of his clinical depression, the worst since I’d known him. I honestly wasn’t sure if we were going to get through it and still come out an intact family. Most days I just got by on a combination of prayer and denial with a little help from my MOPS group. That was eight years ago, and while we are in another session of existential questioning, we are still here and now we are a family of five.
I am more capable, but I’ve learned that won’t necessarily mean I feel more confident. I am being equipped, day by day, to cope with all of this and whatever new challenges lie ahead. But I can’t do it on my own. Most days I remember this and am smart enough not to try . Other days I get too big for my britches and by the end I’m on my knees and realizing yet again, that’s where I should have started. My brave is just to keep moving forward knowing that even in weakness, I am being made strong; that what looks likes quitting can just be rerouting, and it’s not running away if you’re going home to Daddy.