I’ve been thinking a lot about what it really means to be brave. I’m a word nerd, so the first thing I did was turn to the dictionary. Merriam-Webster says that brave means “feeling or showing no fear, not afraid.”

And while it pains me to say this, I don’t think that the trusty ole’ M-W has it right this time. (But I’m sure it’s just this one time, and the next time my dictionary will get it right.)


How many brave actions throughout history have been accompanied by an incredible amount of fear? Consider the storming of the beaches of Normandy, the sitting still on a bus of Rosa Parks, the call to action in NYC on September 11, 2001. I dare say that all of the people involved in these actions were afraid – very afraid and very aware that their lives were at risk.

Any of them could have walked away from the fight. They could have said this is too much. Let someone else do it.

But they didn’t.

They (and a whole host of people throughout history) took the next step, made the next move, did the next right thing – even though they were afraid.

I may have mentioned that we watch a lot of Thomas and Friends around here. In the most recent Thomas movie, Tale of the Brave, we hear these wise words:

‘Being brave is not the same as not being scared, it’s about what you do even when you do feel scared.

God is asking me to be brave this year – and truthfully, I don’t want to. I don’t feel up to the task. As I write this, I am coming off of my first week after treatment, and it was most definitely not fun. I am on the upswing now, but on January 26 I get to go back to the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center and do it all again. And then I get to do it six more times after that. And then there will most likely be some more stuff after all that.

Being brave right now means facing each one of my eight treatments and the side-effects head-on. I most definitely do not want to go back and do it again, but that’s what our friend Percy the little green engine is talking about.

Being brave is about what you do even when you are afraid.