What’s the difference between courage and bravery?
This is the question that emerged, unbidden, in my Zoom call last Monday.
I was with a group of lovelies engaging in our weekly practice of Examen when, after naming the people & projects I am currently tending, I was asked:
How would you like to tend them in the week ahead?
My two-fold response surprised me:
- I want to bring more of me to them.
- I want to walk myself to them with bravery.
When it came time to ask for a gift & grace to carry into the coming week, my answer was yet again, bravery.
Somehow it was crystal clear that I was to ask for bravery instead of courage.
But I didn’t know why. Why that word? Did it matter?
The short answer was yes. Yes it did.
Turns out the word ‘bravery’ is used for situations that pose danger. In fact I was to learn the main difference between courage and bravery is that bravery implies real danger and courage does not.
Well that’s not really what I wanted to hear! But Okay, let’s roll with it. What danger? And while we’re at it, what, technically, is danger?
Off to the dictionary I went only to be surprised once more. The danger definition starts off with a word for which I was completely unprepared: Vulnerability. Seriously?? Who makes this stuff up?!
Danger: “Vulnerability or exposure to harm, pain, loss, risk.”
- The possibility that something bad might happen;
- The possibility of something unwelcome or unpleasant happening;
- The possibility of suffering harm;
No wonder I preferred courage – it didn’t require “real danger,” or the possibility of all this pain.
I had named my desire to bring more of me to the people and projects I was tending. Instead of withdrawing or withholding, I was purposing to “walk myself to them with bravery.”
But now I saw putting my ‘whole self in’ could prove to be risky business.
The possibility of pain. No wonder I needed bravery.
Bravery: “the ability to face danger (all those possibilities) even when scared half to death.” That’s pretty scared, friend.
Bravery: the ability to face.
Bravery: The ability to face all those possibilities, in all our vulnerabilities, and still show up. Still engage.
Friend, if we show up to our lives with hearts spread wide we will be vulnerable to all the possibilities. We’ll get hurt. We’ll hurt others. We’ll fall. We’ll fail. Bad things might happen. It’s easier (and so very much safer) to hole up and hide. To give up or give in or give only part.
If you find yourself there, hiding under that bed of yours, might I bless you as the angel did Daniel?
“Do not be afraid, you who are highly regarded by God. May peace rest on you and make you whole; be strong; be brave.” (Daniel 10:19)
How ’bout we rise and shine, you & me? I bet together we can walk ourselves into the day, brave-hearts that we are.
Be brave: Our Little Life Words of the week.
- What are you facing?
- How much of yourself are you bringing to each day?
- What possibilities do you fear?
- Grab a partner and do the Hokey Pokey, being sure to put your “whole self in.”
- Throughout the day take deep breaths and intentionally “walk yourself to each person or project with bravery.”
- Consider purchasing a little pocket reminder for yourself and a friend.
Ask God to help you be brave in the face of possible ___________.