Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Be Brave

I've been thinking a lot about what it means for me to be brave. Time with a therapist every week will do that. Expose all your weaknesses and then you have to find all your good pieces again. Sara Bareilles has been singing her lyrics in the van to me every time I run an errand lately, and I keep hearing her words in my head. 

"Honestly, I wanna see you be brave." 

But what does my brave look like?

In my head I immediately picture wielding a bow and arrow at a giant attacking grizzly bear who apparently missed his lunch. I have no idea why this image comes into my head, but I must admit, I look pretty. darn. awesome. fending him off (thanks to my healthy obsession with graphic novels to feed my avid imagination and superhero tendencies in my subconscious). 

My real brave, though, is slightly more mundane. But still, it's real. And to me, sometimes in that moment? Maybe it feels just as big as fighting off a hungry bear. 

So what is my brave?

My brave is greeting my children with a smile in the morning, even when the house has already been torn apart, no one has done their morning chores, and I was awoken at 6 AM to the sounds of fighting and screams. 

My brave is answering the phone when the caseworker calls.

My brave is hugging my daughter close when she just spent all of her energy hitting me and screaming in my face in anger.

My brave is buckling and unbuckling five carseats to take my kids to where we need to go. 

My brave is breathing deep when my daughter yells at me that I'm not her mom. I'm not. But I'm trying my best.

My brave is realizing that my daughter who looks just like me is about to go to public school and I'm not ready for that yet. But she is.

My brave is pulling a stuffed bunny out of the toilet with kitchen utensils and not making a big deal out of it. 

My brave is accepting that my life is nothing like I thought it would be. And allowing myself to grieve. It isn't better or worse than I thought. But it is very different. My brave is resting in reality. And learning to enjoy my family just as they are.

My brave is walking into my house and seeing my children instead of the mess.

My brave is telling a friend the truth. That I'm actually not always "fine." That I could use some help.

My brave is listening to our family therapist.

My brave is brushing my teeth with water (again) because my toothpaste seems to have spread itself all over every surface of the bathroom. At least it smells....minty.

My brave is eating quesadillas for dinner again because the park was way to much fun to go home and cook. 

My brave is giving love to someone who is constantly pushing me away. 

My brave is closing my eyes each night, next to my best friend, knowing that tomorrow is going to be hard, just like today. But hoping for some joy too.

My brave is putting paint on that huge canvas. I may not really know what I'm doing, but it brings me joy.

My brave is majoring on the big issues with my kids, and letting the little things go. 

My brave is asking for forgiveness. 

My brave is asking for help.

My brave is going out of my comfort level to do something special with the kids, even if it doesn't go according to expectations. 

My brave is throwing all those expectations out the window, and being OK with reality. 

My brave is smiling at my husband, choosing to laugh instead of cry. 

My brave is being committed to my children for years without knowing the outcome. 

My brave is loving them no matter what happens. 

My brave is accepting that our family is different.

My brave is trusting that God is good. 

My brave is seeing the fear in my daughter's eyes when she is lashing out and drawing her close instead of letting my anger take control.

My brave is reading "just one more story" before bed.  

My brave is watching my husband drive away to work every morning, leaving me and five kids and a whole big day to fill.

My brave is holding my baby close and making him belly laugh, even when there are so many other things to do. 

My brave is watching my boy take his first toddling steps, knowing that they grow up so so fast, and feeling like I've already missed it.

My brave is choosing to love a child in their most unloveable moments. 

My brave is having another night at home instead of spending it with friends. 

My brave is making my kids laugh when I dance silly for them in public.

My brave is sharing my world with them, even on the days I don't feel like it.

Every day, I have to fight for bravery. Fight for joy. Fight for finding the good and the peace in the tough and chaos. I like to look at people (thanks, social media) and think that they have it so much better. That their lives have a lot less "fighting for joy" and it must just come naturally because look at that great selfie she just took! And I know that whether or not that is true, ultimately it doesn't matter. Because my life is full of ups and downs just like everyone else's. But it's in how I choose to view my life and live my life that makes the real difference.

Most days I fall hard and fail often. But even in my failures, I am still choosing my family. I am still choosing to walk the path that God has brought us to, trusting in His goodness and sovereignty. And though I am completely and utterly overwhelmed by the responsibility of nurturing and raising five little humans, I am also thankful that God has found us to be up to the task.

Your brave is going to look different than my brave. Maybe for you, it's finally seeking out that other mom at the park that you keep seeing and going over and saying hello. Maybe it's applying for grad school, or adding another child to your family. Maybe it means renewing the lease on your rental, or uprooting your life and moving somewhere new. Maybe it means hugging your child instead of raising your voice. Or laughing at the toilet paper trail that is running through the entire house and then moving on. Or getting dinner on the table in the middle of everyone melting down.

Maybe your brave today is just being confident being YOU, and not comparing yourself to anyone else. 

Whatever your brave looks like, I hope you are brave today. 
Even if no one else notices.