I was really brave this year.
I went through a period of uncertainty with my health. I saw a bajillion doctors and had a ton of tests done. It was scary, and had the potential to turn out terribly, and I had to put on my brave face. Thankfully, I am healing because I am learning how to treat my body well.
I started going to a program called Celebrate Recovery. It’s a 12 step recovery program for people who struggle with all sorts of things, not just addictions. I recognized that many of my patterns of thought – while they weren’t totally destructive and obvious at this point in time – weren’t exactly healthy. I started to work on stuff that if left untended for a decade, would be entirely destructive and harmful to myself and to those around me. Thankfully, I am healing because I am learning to treat my mind well.
I thought I wanted to go back to school. I emailed schools about programs, I set up meetings with employers to ask for references. I went through all the steps, thinking I was being gutsy by starting over. But then I didn’t go through with it. Instead, I chose to seemingly move backwards in my current career. I didn’t apply for a job. I purposely, clear-headedly, chose to return to the world of substitute teaching. I learned that I don’t have to want what everyone thinks I should want. I took a less time-consuming and emotionally demanding job so I could focus on taking care of myself. It was maybe the craziest decision I have ever made. It was very brave of me.
A few months ago, I taught my Kindergarten kids at church about Daniel in the lions’ den. We talked about how lions aren’t cuddly, and how standing up for your beliefs when the consequence was death would be a really scary thing to do. Daniel had to be so brave. God helped him to be brave. We sang a song about being brave.
I was really brave this year, but I’m still a giant chicken. Like, the biggest. There are some things I know I need to work on, but they’re hard, so I avoid them. Another big reason I chose to go back to substitute teaching was so I would finally have the time to write. I want to pursue this thing. When people ask, “How’s the writing going?” I usually respond with, “The progress is really slow. It’s hard work.” I’ve discovered that it’s exceptionally hard to make progress when you don’t do any work. Shocking, right? I made that initial brave decision to make more time, but I didn’t follow it up with all the little decisions that need to come after it.
Maybe being brave is about admitting you’re not perfect and you never will be. Maybe it’s inviting a friend over even if you haven’t done the dishes and there is dirty laundry all over the floor. Maybe being brave is about smiling on the way to chemo treatments. Maybe it’s writing in your journal every day, even if you’re afraid of what might be on that page. It’s about showing up to work when you have conflict with your coworkers. Or it’s about choosing to tell yourself, “I am quite great,” when you feel the opposite. Maybe you need to start acknowledging tough emotions or destructive behaviours. Maybe being brave is simply going back to that restaurant that the two of you used to go to all the time. Maybe being brave isn’t one big lions’ den moment. Maybe it’s a bunch of little ones.
This year, I want to be brave. I want to be lions’ den brave, but I also want to be brave in the thousand little decisions that I make every day.
Here’s to a brave new year, and not being a giant chicken. Who’s with me?