The Third Aspect: Bravery
What does Bravery mean? As a question, it takes me back to my days of football. Our coach would always psych us up with talk of what it meant to be a man; what it meant to overcome; what it meant to be brave. In this context, bravery invariably meant willingness to commit: commit to a tackle, commit to training, and in light of recent studies, commit to brain damage. Apart from the male-dominated framing of this definition, it’s not wrong. Bravery is about committing.
Before going on with that though, let’s take a quick look at what else Bravery means, in a linguistic sense:
1. The quality that allows someone to do things that are dangerous or frightening: the quality or state of being brave.
2. Fine clothes or a showy display [I didn’t know that, did you?]
In a traditional sense, bravery is the ability to do things that scare you. We reject this definition as simplistic. It isn’t though. In all reality, Bravery is simple. Simple, yet very truly difficult. At a fundamental level, this is the lesson in its entirety. There are things that scare us, which we must nonetheless do.
Still, there is a more expansive definition. Bravery is the willingness to commit to your understanding of reality. When you have higher goals, you are willing to incur lower level suffering in order to obtain that goal. In the case of football, you’re willing to get hit, in order to drive downfield. In the case of war, people are willing to die for the ones they love. The willingness to pursue an ordered reality is Bravery. In Christianity, Bravery is still that basic willingness to undergo existential, emotional, spiritual, even physical pain, in order to come home, in order to be reunited with Ancient of Days.
I diss on Harvard kids a lot. It’s easy. I’m one of you. I know what we do wrong. One of the few things I think we do well though is Bravery. Our hierarchical reality is one for which we are so brave, so willing to incur serious costs (sleep deprivation, social isolation, etc. etc.) in order to attain that which we believe to be important (e.g. prestige). One problem though, it’s not a correct hierarchy.
It’s not a bad ordering of reality in the scheme of things. For many, it is one grounded in altruism. So many people here want to make the world a better place and that is a good thing. However, you’ve got to have God. You got to have love. Not just an altruistic desire to better the world around you, God in your life is a wholly transformative, top-down revitalization of your relational self. And that can begin when you pull yourself out of yourself, and commit to that more real natural order, which isn’t capped by that one A, or by summa, or even by (God forbid) a Rhodes. The proper ordering of reality has God at the top, and it is for this reality we must be prepared to act.
For this, we must reorder our lives.
For this, we must accept that things we are attached to may need to go.
For this, we must be brave.
For this, we must ask for help from God.
Yours in Christ,