by Michelle Berkey
I live in Tennessee where forest fires have decimated Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and the surrounding mountain areas in the past month. There have been stories of brave firefighters and brave citizens in the midst of both personal loss and devastating community loss. This is what we think of when we think of bravery. Nationally televised news stories. But, bravery is much closer to home. And accessible in small moments.
Moments that can shift your life. And the lives of those around you.
I see bravery daily in my best friend fighting a cancer that is only potentially managed. We're told it's not going to be cured. She faces her days, her parenting, her treatment and her future with such grace and positive attitude that I can think of no other word than brave.
I see her step bravely into the idea she may not be here for her kids as long as she wants to be. I see her step bravely into a regimen of treatments and terminology that would make your head spin. I see her step bravely into dependence on others because she can't drive while taking pain medicine. I see her step bravely into the reality of pulling away from a freelancing job that has given her purpose and identity in addition to income. I see her do these things, not without struggle, but with assurance, faith, grace and most certainly, bravery. And I'm humbled.
Her brave is drawn from a deep well of faith and allows her to move through the dance she's been given with grace and joy determined by her faith rather than her circumstances.
I see bravery in a circle of online women taking a class they expected to be about style and soon realized it was about how they choose to show up in the world. And that quickly became a very deep, very important conversation. I saw them tackle their body image. Their belief in themselves. Their understanding of who they are and who they want to be. I cheered as they bravely began to show who they are on the inside to the world at large. With fear, yes. But with honesty, vulnerability and truth. I saw them make choices based on their own strength rather than the stories they've been hearing about themselves from others and in their own heads. Outwardly the shifts weren't dramatic every single day. But internal shifts sometimes require far more bravery. I saw them transform from intentionally hiding from the world to shining in it. And I'm humbled.
Their brave came from a deep sense of community where each person is seen and loved in a way we don't experience in our over-connected but under-communitied culture. The support in this community allows them to tackle new steps in their dance daily.
I see bravery in the actions of my nephew who recently defended a boy in his fifth grade class. This classroom of boys has been unmercifully picking on a child who is different. And my nephew had had enough of it. I see leadership, kindness and bravery in him. And I'm humbled.
His brave shines from a soul who knows who he is and believes in the dignity of all people. In kindness toward others. He may not articulate it that way himself at this age. But the rhythm of his dance does it clearly.
You may not be facing a fire of the magnitude of the one the Tennessee mountain people faced this month. But daily each of us face our own fires. Maybe it's not cancer. Or self image. Or bullies. But, I guarantee there is something that requires you to put your brave on and dance the song in your life. Whatever that thing is, know that there are everyday heroes around you taking those steps daily. Yes, the fires are there. And they may be difficult and painful.
Not in spite of the fires, but because of them.
Step into your brave and let the world around you be enriched and encouraged.
Michelle Berkey is a Podcaster, Artist and Small Business Strategist creating art and an intentional life in the countryside near Nashville, TN. She's currently in the midst of interviewing 60 small business owners in 60 days about their experiences as entrepreneurs. If you'd like 20 minutes of personal or business coaching in trade for 20 minutes of conversation about your life as a business owner, schedule a call at www.michelleberkey.link/schedule.