My three old is cautious. She’s afraid of the swing, she’s hesitant to climb the ladder on the playground…she basically doesn’t like to do things that she’s not sure she can do. Oh, how she wants to though. I can see it all over her face and in her eyes…she longs for it, but the fear keeps her from doing the very thing her soul is stirring to do.
We went to a park at the edge of a river and the bank was scattered with big rocks that trailed into the shallow parts of the water. She and I sat and watched while the older kids all began climbing on the rocks, hopping from one to the next…seeing how far into the river they could go without getting wet.
I watched my three-year-old take it in and saw the wonder fill her eyes. I secretly hoped she would join the adventure.
To my delight, she got up, walked to the edge of the riverbank, and picked her rock to leap onto. But, she stopped, and I could see the hesitation as she looked back at me and caught my eye.
Would she do it? Or was her hesitation going to keep her from her adventure?
Then, she said something that surprised me…
“Mom, I’m brave…okay?”
It was a statement and a question all wrapped in one; she believed she could do it, but doubted it all at the same time. She was looking for affirmation that she could, and should, do what was stirring inside of her.
At that moment I saw myself in her.
She was like me…cautiously daring and hesitantly hopeful.
She desired to respond to the way her soul stirred, but she hesitated because she was so aware of what could happen if she did. To take an action on something she felt so intimately made her feel exposed.
Sadly, fear stifles vulnerability and it wins more often than it is conquered.
As her mom I want to teach her how to conquer it, to be vulnerable, and take that step of faith…but, I’m still learning how to do that myself.
My three-year-old made eye contact with me in her hesitation. In a heartbeat, I affirmed her statement and answered her question with a simple, yes.
“Yes, you are.”
My response propelled her to motion and I watched her leap onto the rock from the bank; she took a step of faith with her fear still very intact.
She demonstrated exactly what it means to be brave.
Being brave doesn’t mean mustering up the strength to overcome fear. Being brave is taking a step of faith in fear. The fear doesn’t disappear, but in the act, it is overcome.
I need to preach this to myself daily. So often I get hung up in all the doubt, the what-if’s and the fear…it stifles the way my soul is stirring to move.
I need to take a lesson from my daughter and learn what it means to be brave.
Bravery, taking action of faith in fear, can look like moving or like being still. Sometimes it can look like speaking while other times it looks like being silent. Oftentimes, bravery looks like quieting the inner critic, or a slew of lies, and listening to the heart speak.
For my daughter, it looked like leaping onto a rock from a riverbank.
Ultimately, being brave is allowing your soul to be entirely affected by the God who stirs it.
My three-year-old demonstrated what it means to be brave today and it ministered to my heart. Her statement-question resonated deep within me because I am just like her and too often I’m hesitant.
Like my daughter, I need to look up and speak aloud that same statement-question to my heavenly father who is delighting in the ways his spirit is moving me…
His voice is affirming, gentle, and provides the ability to move in response to his leading; to take an act of faith in fear.
“Yes, you are.”
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Kristina M. Ward