I signed up for a memoir workshop with Tweetspeak Poetry. There are about ten brave souls taking courageous steps toward better understanding their own stories in order to share them with readers. But first, we are learning to share them with each other. It’s an online class, which eliminates the nervous in-person issues and could help us hide behind the distance of the world wide web. But, they are truth seekers and truth speakers and their bravery inspires me. Whatever your story is, there is beauty and redemption in it. The work to write our stories is hard and requires serious moxy. This little piece is dedicated to my memoir classmates. You bless me with bravery.}
I was only eight.
Courage was something I knew nothing about, like sex and driving cars and reading my dad’s black, leather bound Bible.
Brave was not in my lunchbox or my coat-pocket. Brave was a higher branch on a tree. Higher than I ever needed to climb. Brave was taller than me.
I was books. I was reading. I was playing with my sister who, aged thirteen seemed more interested in bravery than playing with me; I was only…me.
I was not brave.
But something about that age, being not yet a big kid and not a baby either, makes everything not fit quite right. Like tight seams pulling at the back of my arms, I knew I was being held back. But I didn’t know what lay ahead of me, what secret tree limbs lay beyond my reach. And the want of knowing what I might be missing tasted fresh in my mouth, like a berry, picked too soon — sharp with newness and juice. I did want to grow up, didn’t I?
I watched my sisters who all galavanted ahead of me at various stages of maturity well beyond my reach. Couldn’t I be like them? But then, I loved the sweet-from-the-bath scent of baby shampoo and my mom’s pitch-perfect voice reading some story as I drifted drowsy in her arms. I wanted to remain suspended beneath the night-quiet conversation of my parents discussing above my head grown-up things that didn’t concern me. I cared nothing for the subject matter, I only wanted the music of their voices.
I craved safety like an infant. The womb of childhood cradled me too lovingly for me to want to move on.
But brave girls can rise from the cradle of love. I didn’t realize that then. My bravest moments grew up from the culmination of all that security. My confidence lay not in my brave-heartedness but in knowing who I was and knowing who loved me. I know now that courage comes in many forms:
prosthetic-bound soldiers who still serve their country,
women who shave hair from heads and claim their brave-beauty,
children who push through a life of injustice and abuse,
friends who forgive,
and men who love their women well.
There’s bravery on every branch.
I still know so little of courage. I know I am brave, when I need to be, and I have to say that has to be enough.
Because I know who I am in Christ. I know he loves me, he who bravely faced horror so indescribable. I know he did that for love and because he knew who he belonged to, who loved him most.
And I believe that I don’t know what I might have to face, how much courage I have in my pockets, until that day comes when brave becomes me.
This is linked up with Lisa-Jo. The word brave was the prompt today.
I didn’t feel like I could speak with any authority on the topic of bravery. It’s such a subjective concept. What is brave when we know of children who’ve persevered through famine and war and every imaginable abuse? What is brave when people have stood in trenches until their feet froze in the mud? What is brave when people survived Dachau?
I know little of bravery. I know a little about Jesus, who did a very brave thing in dying for me. And that’s where I rest. When brave needs to become me, then I know he’s with me, being my courage.
Bless you! You are dear to me,