A few months ago, a conversation with a friend made me realize something about myself that I didn’t know. I’m brave. I don’t/didn’t think of myself as brave, because in the fight/flight response, I always freeze. By the time I’ve figured out what to do, the other people around have already started doing things, and I generally follow their lead. I’m perfectly happy to do this – I know my own capabilities, and combat isn’t one of them.
Anyway, there aren’t generally too many folks around who are smaller/weaker than I am, so my protective streak (and I have one, a mile wide) doesn’t come into play very often. But when it does… see, that’s the thing. It comes up so seldom, that I do the darndest things because they just seem like the obvious things that need doing, so I do them. (And then usually my husband has some words with me – self preservation isn’t my strong suit, and neither are tactics).
Isn’t that what bravery is? Doing what needs doing because it needs to be done, and not worrying a whole lot about yourself?
Since I’m protective but not aggressive, and my protective urge doesn’t pop up very often… I have a hard time knowing what to do in tense situations. And once I have my back up, it’s hard for me to return to rest. That’s the thing – I am small, and I am non-threatening, and I strongly dislike aggression, but once you trigger the protection… it doesn’t go away. Until I no longer perceive a threat, I stand guard.
Once my dog was badly mauled by a pit bull*. As soon as he was vertical, when the pit bull was playing in the yard next door, he’d put his own body between the dog and my kids (and me) while I got the kids inside (there’s a long story to this). It’s not because my dog thought he could take down the pit bull. He knew that he couldn’t. He hadn’t put a mark on him defending his own life. But he knew that he could slow him down long enough to keep us safe. And that’s bravery. Knowing you don’t have a chance, but getting in there because it’s the thing that needs doing.
So, how does this relate to Christian living? I’m not too sure. Bravery isn’t one of the cardinal virtues. It’s not a bad thing in principle, but it can lead you (me) into folly. So, if I’m going to be on guard, I need to learn how to be on guard the way Jesus wants me to be, and not turn fear-aggressive.
Yeah. That’s the ticket. Keep the protection, keep the bravery, lose the fear. (I often talk things out to think things out, why do you think I have three blogs?) I don’t have to bristle in response to threat, I need to stand firm in my faith in Christ and not in my own pathetic strength. And thus, I have no need to fear.
In the moments when I was called to act… I never could have planned out my response to any of those moments, because I never imagined them.
But we’re not supposed to prepare our responses, we’re supposed to prepare our hearts.
Mark 9: 11 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost
Ephesians 6:10-13 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
*English Setter (hunting version). Long long story – and no, I don’t have it against pit bulls. Against owners of intact male dogs with a digging-under-fences problem who don’t control their pets? Well. That’s a different story. It *did* go home when I told it to, even with my dog’s blood in its mouth. What? I told you I was
brave insane. And yes, I got chewed out for not taking a weapon with me. Didn’t occur to me, frankly.