The common person rarely knows that bravery is about to be required of them. While some spend their careers training for brave moments—for moments that will require sacrifice, or a suppression of self-preservation, or a willingness to become acquainted with death, most of us struggle to figure out what’s for dinner and whether or not we can pay bills. If we are developing a default setting of brave, we’re completely unaware of it as we shuffle sports schedules, work deadlines, and evaluate of our everyday successes and failures. We only see our own bravery in retrospect, realizing we conquered adversity with surprising results.
If, in December 2015, you’d told me how my year would unfold, I would not have had the bravery to step into it. I would have told you I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t trained for this. I was unqualified for the struggle. I would have refused to embark on the adventure and chosen to stay huddled right where I was, thank you, in safe familiarity, free from unnecessary stress.
Instead, I ran blissfully unaware, heart-first into the New Year.
My oldest son told me about the process of hypertrophy—or causing tiny tears in the muscle that, once repaired by the body, results in muscles that are stronger and better able to handle the stress that caused the damage. I didn’t believe him, but then I googled it; he was right.
Looking back, I’ve declared my word of the year in 2016 hypertrophy. I think it would make a lovely inspirational forearm tattoo.
I know it’s customary to choose more positive words as a banner of exaltation, words like: hope, dream, adventure, and passion. But when I look back over my last 12 months, I think of words like: shattering, dissonant, struggle. They’re negative, but represent a positive outcome as the fight was worthy, for the woman of December 2016 has a stronger core than the woman of December 2015.
In 2016 I was shattered and forced to collect the pieces of myself, but it gave me the opportunity to choose the pieces that really mattered and leave the rest.
In 2016, I was dissonant, feeling as though my voice was off key from the rest of the world, but it gave me an opportunity to evaluate what I was saying and how I wanted to say it.
In 2016, I struggled. I struggled to find the right words for faith. I struggled to find God’s presence. In the struggle, I felt myself fatigue and it was in that fatigue I was reminded of His faithfulness.
My point is this: We are headed into 2017 blind. Bravery will be required of us. And rather than fear the difficulties, let’s embrace them, knowing it’s the overexertions—the stress and strain, the micro tears in pride and ego—which build character and strength.
Some of us will lose love while others find it.
Some will reconcile the life they live to the life they dreamed of living. Others will have goals materialize into reality.
Some will admit their desire to manage is in conflict with a lack of control.
Others will concede they can’t force someone to be anyone other than who they are.
All of us will look in the mirror and choose to either love what we see or despise it.
In light of all a new year promises, maybe I do have a feel-good word to tattoo on both our forearms, thus reminding us of the only effective response to circumstances demanding bravery: embrace.
Let’s embrace it all. The good, the easy, the ugly, the shattering. Let’s embrace moments of prosperity and seasons of disparity. Let’s not boast about one or complain about the other. Let’s just live through them, together, for this is what we’ve been trained in and made for. Let’s spot one another, serving each other in the fatigue. And above all, let’s encourage each other, reminding one another that the most extraordinary example of bravery indwells us.
Bring it 2017. And bring us together as you both rock and rule our world.