on being called “brave.”

Brave is not a word I’d use to describe myself, yet it’s one I hear quite often.

Maybe it’s because the past few years of my life have been less than typical and have involved lots of airplanes and foreign countries and eating grasshoppers and running through Dubai alone in the middle of the night because I had an 8 hour layover and I could. Maybe because it’s involved living in places that people tend to assume the worst of. Whatever it is that leads people to stamping that word on my life, I’ve stopped trying to figure it out.

Because I don’t feel brave. I’ve never felt brave.

If I’m being honest, I’ve been afraid more times in my life than I’ve felt brave. Most things I’ve walked into doing, I’ve been trembling. Pictures where I’m laughing hysterically are covering up the fact that my legs were shaking and my mind was racing (especially when those pictures were taken on raised surfaces because my fear of heights is so real).

For a long time, I took everything fear said as truth.

Fear told me to stay inside. It told me to hide my heart. Not to trust other people. Not to let too much of myself be seen or known. Fear told me the world was a dangerous place and people were going to let me down. It told me I was a risk that wasn’t worth taking, so I shouldn’t even put myself out there.

And you know what, maybe some things fear told me were true. Maybe there’s a gift hiding in fear that protects us. But at what cost?

I didn’t wake up one morning and decide to be brave. I just stopped letting the fear tell me what to do.

And I don’t know, maybe that’s what actually makes us brave.

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I started writing. I started telling my life’s story to people who became fortresses of safety and peace in my life, and it made me braver. I decided that, while the world may be dangerous and full of darkness, there’s also light that exists that will always overcome the dark.

I realized that no matter what happens to me on this earth, my soul has found the safest resting place in the God that created it. Fear tends to pale in comparison to that.

I’ll never stop being afraid of things.

I’ll never stop my legs from shaking when I’m standing on the edge of something risky and beautiful.

I’ll never stop my heart from racing when I’m about to expose part of it to another person.

But I’ll never again let it keep me from doing it anyway.

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To be continued.

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