A man leaps into a burning car to save the life of the woman inside.
A teenage girl dies saving her six year old brother from drowning by jumping into an icy river.
A father of two daughters risks his life to rescue an elderly gentleman who falls in front of a train during a seizure.
Brave. The word has some great glory about it, and speaks of honour and grandeur and presence of mind. It is a beautiful word. When I hear it in conversation, I am immediately attentive, my eyes widen, and my mind imagines as hard as it possibly can what it would be like to be there, to see that need, to act with so much courage...and then I wonder.
Am I brave?
I was pondering this confronting, gorgeous question on a sunswept Wednesday afternoon last week, and I came to a conclusion.
I don't think that on my own I'm that brave at all.
I thought I was. Or rather, I thought I would be if the situation arose.
Of course I would be, wouldn't I? I would be brave if I was in that position, but I have not been in that position yet, and probably never will be. I would be brave, if only circumstance would bring it to light.
Circumstance has brought it to light, and I have lost so many opportunities because I have not realised it sooner. I don't need a burning car, a freezing river, or an oncoming train to be brave.
I have always thought that bravery meant striving for an ultimate, human bigness. It doesn't. Bravery is not about seeking honour, but honouring someone else. It may not require sacrificing your life, but it will often require sacrificing your pride. It is not about appearing to do the right thing, it is about actually doing the right thing, whatever the consequences. It is about living fully. It is about hoping, when every part of your heart tells you to despair; giving $10 to the homeless man you just walked past; being happy to be you, when everyone is telling you to be someone else; hanging out the washing when your mum asks you to, despite wanting to scream, "NO!". It is about loving, even when they don't love you back.
That is brave. And every moment that goes by where we reject an opportunity to help someone, act with integrity, speak the truth, be who we were meant to be, or do what God tells us to do, we are missing, losing the brave moment that could have been ours.
On my own, I am not brave. Not in the slightest. But I have a hope. A hope in Jesus. And 'Since we have such a hope, we are very bold.'
(2 Corinthians 3:12)
And we start with the little things.