I thought I’d learned to be brave when I began standing up for myself. After laying down and letting myself be walked all over in the name of love, I struggled to my knees and finally stood on my feet again. But I was all too ready to bloody my knuckles to keep from falling ever again. I thought bravery was toughness, putting up thick walls, audacity, and winning arguments. I thought wearing anger as armor was brave. I thought shouting over the voices of those who disagreed with me was brave. I thought burning bridges at the first sign of a spark was brave.
But truthfully, I’d never been more of a coward. It took me two years to realize that forgiveness is brave. Compassion is brave. Tearing down your walls, laying down your sword, and risking pain is what takes bravery. Calculating the gap and taking the leap is brave. Placing one foot in front of the other and walking forward when you’re ready to collapse is brave.
Standing strong but with a gentle touch is brave. Know your worth. Don’t allow toxic people to flood your veins and drive you into the ground. Know when to say no. Don’t drive down a dead end road until you crash. But don’t hold back kindness. Walk a mile in another’s shoes before you condemn them. Don’t bare your teeth before you show a smile. You can’t protect yourself from pain without hiding yourself from happiness.