I just changed the wooden letter board sitting on my desk to read, "It's a Great Day to Be Brave."
Honestly, it was a pain to twist all those plastic letters free from the packaging so I could spell out a new message on my board. But, the reminder to be brave felt important enough to spend 10 minutes arranging the letters just right.
Bravery matters because, well, I'm not naturally gifted at it. I've lived a lot of my life avoiding circumstances that required ample amounts of courage. There are few sensations I dislike more than the quickening of my heartbeat as I enter into a situation with an uncertain ending.
Two years ago, when I first came to TCU, I learned a few things about bravery that I seem to have forgotten now. Right as the plane landed in Dallas, freshman Victoria decided that she would make an intentional effort to encounter that nervous feeling, no matter how much she hated it.
Back then, I envisioned the college experience that I wanted to have and I knew I would need to be brave to attain it. Getting outside of my comfort zone was never easy - but it rewarded me with a memorable and transformational year of college. The discomfort was SO worth it.
Flash forward to sophomore year - I got a little too settled into my routine. I knew who my friends were, I could navigate every corner of campus, and if nothing else, I had a year's worth of experience to fall back on. So for a while, I stopped choosing bravery. It didn't feel like a loss at the time; but as I snuggled up with complacency, I unintentionally paused the process of becoming who I want to someday be.
Here I am now, about to head into the second half of my college career - and I feel God putting it on my heart to chase after that boldness once again. These days, I'm learning that growing into the best version of myself requires some courage. If I want to live an extraordinary existence, I need to be brave.
Courage is such a seemingly glamorous emotion - from the outside it seems sweet and very doable. But, being brave actually requires a lot of grit and determination. Bravery is doing the things you don't really want to do. It's that moment of "okay, let's do this" before you enter a scenario with an uncertain ending. It's a deep breath and your heart rate increases and then...you just see what happens.
Even writing that stresses me out a bit. Like I said, I'm not wired to love risk taking. But deep down, I know I want to change and mature and achieve. While I love my current life, I don't want to live this same way forever.
Recently, life has given me no choice but to be brave. And so, even when my insides begged me not to, I've had to rise to the occasion and get outside of my comfort zone. In the midst of a summer full of unknowns, I'm learning that bravery isn't so bad. It's one of those things you just have to practice until it gets easier.
Our situations don't become any less menacing, but we become more confident in our ability to handle them as we practice boldness. We realize that on the other side of courage is growth. And at some point, we have to decide which we want for our lives - to stay stagnant and comfortable or to move forward with a little bit of fear. Bravery is part of the process; and we can't make progress if we aren't willing to go through the process.
I want to say yes to job opportunities and personal goals and new relationships and situations that move me in the direction of my dream life. Saying yes will require some bravery, but I believe it's worth it in the end.
So, how do we learn to love bravery? How do we rise up and take hold of situations with confidence even when everything in us wants to run and hide?
Since I don't have the natural inclination toward risk taking, I have to find my bravery outside of myself. For me, it all goes back to the voices I listen to. The voices in my head scream at me to say no, stay in, and go back to where I'm comfortable. But, if I choose to listen to the positive voices in my life outside of myself, I can find the courage I need. These voices are those of the people in my life that encourage me to be better, and the God who I believe knows all about me and loves me just the same.
When I don't feel brave, I need to remember that I believe in a God who is always with me and therefore I have no reason to be afraid (Isaiah 41:10). I need to hear over and over that God loves me (Ephesians 2:4-5) and that He has a plan for my life (Proverbs 16:9). These are the truths that create courage inside of me.
I hope you know that these truths apply to you as well - God is with you, He loves you, and He is for you. He will help you be brave, and He'll place people in your life to give you a little nudge in the right direction when you're afraid.
As I enter into the second half of my college experience - I don't want to stay stuck in complacency and insecurity. I want to be bold and spontaneous and feel alive. It will require courage, but I pray that I'll learn to love those moments of uncertainty - because usually, something beautiful is on the other side of bravery.
It's a great day to be brave.