I would love to be a brave person, but I’m too insecure to be so. I don’t feel like I have a lot of security, even though I have somewhere to live, feel like we approach the world with a since of awareness and align our lives to weather uncertainty. But I’m a pretty fearful person and I’m not always secure in who I am. My fear and insecurity were once again top shelf when my husband and I went gold panning today. Yes, we gold pan, more he gold pans and I scoop dirt into a sluice box, but it’s a great way to spend a hot day. We drive through the back country, hike down trails and sit in stunning creeks, wedged between canyons while digging in the dirt, like children. I make it sound like I’ve done this a thousand times, but in truth, I’ve only been out with him like four times.
Today we hiked down to a creek, down an almost non-trail. I was extremely nervous as I inched my way down, with a stick in each hand, and Bentley excitedly pulling on his rope excited to be out in the woods. Rhett was further down the trail and I called to him telling him I was letting Bentley go, I didn’t want him pulling me down the hill, potentially ending up in a fall or worse. Usually Bentley runs towards Rhett, but the trail was steep and blocked and Bentley veered off to what he believed was an easier path. In actual fact, it was brush on the side of a large drop down hill. Bentley got stuck in the brambles quite quickly and Rhett had to go rescue him. I thought I was next.
I did make it down to the creek, but I felt like a wimpy, afraid “city girl”. Bentley also made it down to the creek, in Rhett’s arms, rescued from the hillside. Rhett praised Bentley, telling him he was a good boy for not attempting to jump off the ledge, while waiting for Rhett to come rescue him. I also wanted praise for being brave, when really all I did was inch-step my way down a path, sliding only slightly.
I told myself over and over how brave I was being. I also told myself how disappointed in myself I was for not being brave and acting scared over walking down a skittish trail. Surly this was something anyone could have done, why did I have to get so scared? I’ve decided fear and bravery are siblings. Different personalities, but usually found under the same roof. I can be afraid and brave and still get through, I don’t have to choose, especially in the moment when fear and bravery are arguing like siblings over who’s pillow that is.
The brother and sister team of fear and bravery seem to be having a lot of arguments in me lately. Sometimes life can feel like a steep, slippery trail and you walk down it with sticks you picked out of the bushes, hoping they will support you in a femur breaking fall, or as you inch your way down a path. The end point of the trail is never the thought in the middle of trying to get there, but once you arrive, the troubles leading you there are quickly forgotten and you wonder why you were so freaked out in the first place.
This year has been a rollercoaster for everyone and I’m sure more than one person can relate to it feeling like an almost trail that you’re bushwhacking with found sticks while a small dog is capable of yarding you over in a moment’s notice.
The perspective of allowing myself to be fearful and brave in the process, without having to feel shame over fear or fake for feeling brave, but allowing them to coexist helps me stay focused. It’s the tension, always holding the tension in life that gets you though. Holding the tension of walking sticks as your feet find their footing, holding the tension of being afraid while doing something out of your comfort zone, causing you to feel brave and proud of yourself, holding the tension of knowing what you want in life, but being ok with the waiting.
I’m afraid. I’m always fearful. Scared of everything. I’ll give you a list if you really want one. But I’m also trying to be brave, trusting that the journey ends up somewhere beautiful. Trying to trust in God and that he’s got this and, unlike Bentley, I will not jump off the path he has for me and end up cliff hung, needing to be rescued. The path is narrow, steep, slippery, branch blocked, and like an 80 year old, sometimes you need walking poles to get through certain parts of it. It’s scary and it’s bravery to keep going.
I’m sure anyone in history branded with ‘being brave’ also felt super scared about what they were doing. Just because you feel scared or fearful, doesn’t mean that what you are doing isn’t super brave. It’s probably just the opposite.
Feel scared? You’re probably being brave.