Only compared to some, on bravery

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Over the Christmas break we introduced our two oldest children to the movie The Princess Bride. It’s one of my favorites. It has such a great story told from such a creative perspective, plus it’s one of the most quotable movies ever.

There’s a scene with the princess is being stolen away on a boat. She tries to escape by jumping overboard only to be nearly attacked by screeching eels. As she’s pulled back into the boat by her captors the leader says to her “I suppose you think you’re brave, don’t you?” Princess Buttercup replies “only compared to some.”

I was thinking about what it meant to be brave when we are watching the rest of the Princess Bride. What will the next year look like for me? Is it time for me to set some new goals? How proactive should I be and how much can I just live day to day?

As we end this year and head into the next we are about to be bombarded with a lot of advice. Blogs, newspapers, magazines and more will tell us what is going to make the next year the best year. If we can just be brave and ____________. It’s all a little overwhelming sometimes.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the comparison and the conversations about who is brave, who is conquering what and what more I can/should/could do.

I look at the mom with more kids than me and think “she’s definitely braver than me.” I look at the writer who is more consistent and transparent than I and think “that’s so brave, I could never be that.” I look at the woman who is taking greater career risks and think “she’s a risk taker, so very brave.”

And then I remember Princess Buttercup’s words… “Only compared to some.”

There are two things I take away from this…

First, there will always be someone who we perceive as being braver than ourselves. This is a good thing. We need people to motivate us, inspire us and challenge us. Those who we see as braver than ourselves are many times people who have great qualities that we would like to emulate. Seeing others as braver than ourselves keeps us humble. It reminds us we are unique in our callings and those people and their stories encourage us to keep going, keep trying.

Second, we are reminded that we are someone else’s brave. As I watched the above scene, I was reminded that no matter what, I am meant to be me. Sure, I won’t be climbing Mount Everest, curing major diseases in foreign countries or solving any large political crises, but I can be my own kind of brave.

I can do what I was meant to do to motivate, inspire, challenge and encourage someone else.

In my parenting I can be my own kind of brave and sow seeds of peace amongst the chaos of four small children. I want them to think on these years not as rigid and crazy but as peaceful and full of exciting growth and to be that kind of brave to their own friends.

In my friendships I can be my own kind of brave by deciding to be really present and listen and respond with my whole heart. I can be the friend that I want others to be for me and maybe they can be that person to someone else.

In my marriage I can be my own kind of brave by really committing to be my husband’s best friend and greatest advocate no matter what the year might bring. I want to make my marriage work, and not just work but lots and lots of fun, trying begins with me.

In my church I can be my own kind of brave by giving what I can when I can, even if it cost me something. I can be the catalyst for small change that might change a life forever.

In my own life I can be my own kind of brave by taking the time I need to be quiet and to work and do so without guilt. If I’m going to be my kind of brave I have to commit some time to it.

So what does next your hold for you? Who knows. I have no great advice. I don’t know 10 steps for the perfect waist, the top 5 recipes to make your kids eat their veggies or how to stay cool calm and collected 100% of the time.

What I do know is that there is only one you. You have to be your kind of brave or fun or creative, the world needs you.

In the end, Princess Buttercup was exactly brave enough, she ended up where she wanted to be, happily ever after.

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