I’ve had people tell me that I am brave before.
The theory is that because I take my pain and write about it and send it out into the world in the hopes that it will help another, I possess this trait that is called courage.
To that, my friends, I must laugh.
Because I am not brave. Not at all.
Because the thing of it is that sharing truth can be hard. Right at this very moment, you might be reading this and thinking all sorts of unflattering things about me. You might be tearing me to pieces. But I don’t know that, and I will never know… Well, not unless you are one to post cruel comments to bloggers. Then I might get an idea.
But in all earnestness, this is not bravery. Because pretty words can hide pain. They can hide fear. They take the darkness in us and dress it up and pretend that it is a gift rather than what it really is… our brokenness.
When I sit down and open up my computer, I get to pretend that my pain is pretty. And I get to try to convince you of it too. And since writing isn’t particularly difficult for me, I can sometimes achieve this.
In reality, the brave ones are all the other ones out there. The ones who take their pain, in all its broken, unsightly glory, and hand it over to another person. Those who take out their heart, put it on a ruddy old plate, and set it in front of another. Another who can see in their eyes. Another whose reactions they can gauge. Another whose opinion could crush.
We live in a world that is so ridiculously messed up that we believe that the strong ones are the ones with courage. That the people who take on the world themselves are the victors. We believe that self-sufficiency is a sign of success.
I remember reading the story of Genesis as a child. What I remember is that as soon as they took a bite of the apple, they saw their nakedness and were ashamed.
And that right there says it all. The first sign of our fall and our brokenness as a people is that we became ashamed of ourselves as we are. We insisted on hiding. We separated our true natures from not only God but from each other.
And we can’t ultimately fix that. We can’t create a world where we walk around without our shields. It’s not a safe enough world for that, and even if it were, we aren’t whole enough for that.
But we can try to open ourselves to the close ones, to the inner circle. We can try to put down our armor of smiles and happy nods and closed mouths. We can take a moment and remember that the single most courageous thing anyone can do in this world is let another see them for who they truly are. For even the briefest of moments.
I’m not brave. I’m not courageous. I’d say I’m the farthest from it.
Because I can’t even say the word vulnerable out loud. I cringe as I write it.
But really, that’s where beauty is. That’s where truth is. And that’s where holiness is.
I’m not brave enough to go there yet.
But there are those of you out there who are, and there are those of you out there who are doing your very best to get there.
And I applaud you. And I commend you. And I look up to you.
You are an inspiration to us all.