As therapists, Vincent and Laura (the Relationship Helpers) are in the unique position of working with people when they need to be brave and face difficult situations.
Today, the Relationship Helpers tackle becoming more brave in their series “A Better New Years Resolution.” Rather than focusing on fleeting external qualities such as weight loss and diet, we are looking at internal qualities such as gentleness, friendliness, cheerfulness and this week: bravery.
It’s Brave to Darken the Door of a Stranger’s Office
We see it often, someone comes to us in crisis and they have been brave enough to face it. They have swallowed whatever pride or fear they have just enough to talk to a stranger and open up. When a client does this, it does not go unnoticed by us—it’s a big deal! People are sharing the deepest, darkest parts of their hearts and souls with us.
We Need to Talk
When you have a friend, family member or spouse who reaches out to you and gives you a glimpse of something hidden deep down in their soul, this is your opportunity to thank them for sharing with you. Acknowledge their bravery for sharing. Having difficult conversations is courageous. Talking about your struggle, no matter the amount of anxiety or fear that surrounds it, is courageous.
Being brave does not mean that you talk without crying or that your voice doesn’t shake. Being brave is talking anyway, no matter how your voice shakes. Being brave is confronting these fears with tears in your eyes, if that’s what it takes. Brave people cry. They step out into the unknown. They are vulnerable and don’t know what will happen but they do it nonetheless.
In our episode with Jill Martin, she talks about not being afraid to talk about the elephant in the room. Be sure to check out that episode to hear about her approach, as she is definitely someone who welcomes the challenges of the elephant in the room!
Bravery sometimes means confronting someone and addressing grievances. Laura describes her job as a bit of a “conflict planner.” We work on how you “do” conflict: body language, timing, word choice, how you say it, and being able to gauge the emotional temperature in the room.
Preparing Yourself to Be Brave
When your body and mind are screaming to avoid conflict, it requires preparation to follow through with an act of bravery. Praying about the situation will open you to listen to the Lord’s leading. Searching scripture will give you a biblical foundation for your situation and help you to see if what you’re about to do aligns with scripture.
An example may be someone who finds that they are talking to other people about a problem when they have not talked directly to the person that is involved with the problem. We are told in Matthew [18:15], to speak directly to the person involved FIRST, then to go to other witnesses if the person does not listen. Learning scripture is helpful in giving us guidelines such as these in how to handle conflict.
Talking to a counselor or pastor can help you gauge what is appropriate. Writing down a plan of what you are going to say can be particularly helpful in situations where there is a lot of emotion and difficult feelings involved. There is no shame in “going with a script.”
In fact, having something written and prepared helps to keep the conversation on track. It really is more brave to read off of a script than to approach the situation strictly out of emotion. The logical brain is thrown out the window when we speak purely out of emotion, and we become very reactive.
In Paul’s letter to Galatians, he is addressing Peter’s hypocrisies. Paul shows us the benefit of writing a plan to handle conflict, so to speak.
Following God’s Will & Not Your Own
This means taking the time to pray to God; not just “talking at” Him but listening to Him. It may mean writing out your prayer and then taking the time to listen. Ask Him “What’s a healthy way to handle it? What would be appropriate?”
Stepping Outside of Comfort Zone
“Great things never happen inside of comfort zones.” Comfort zones are so fear-based, so limiting. Comfort zones limit God.
Vincent describes how in Daniel we see Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego, three Israelites in exile and how they refuse to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzer. In the 1930s and 40s, this biblical story was well known in England. Winston Churchill, sent out one short message in morse code to the troops preparing to storm the beaches of Normandy, he said “And if not…”
These are the words the Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego used when they told the king that they would not bow down to him and that they would continue to worship God, regardless of whether God chooses to deliver them from the fiery furnace. They are saying that they are determined to do this nevertheless, regardless of the outcome, this is my duty.
Take these words to heart, let them bolster your courage as you prepare to confront. Let what you’ve read from the Bible, different historical figures, and others who have faced what seem to be insurmountable odds encourage you. Be a student of how they have faced fears with bravery.
As we learn from the story of the three guys thrown in the fiery furnace, the men were walking about in the furnace, unscathed. Upon viewing the men in the furnace, another man was seen in there with them.
The three are pulled from the fiery furnace and the king proceeds to praise God. This is six hundred years before the birth of Christ. Vincent likes to think it may have been Jesus with the men in the fire. What an image that creates! He is right there with you during your trials, too.
Quotes to Remember
“There is no such thing as bravery; only degrees of fear.” -John Wainwright
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.” – Mark Twain
“Last, but by no means least, courage – moral courage, the courage of one’s convictions, the courage to see things through. The world is in a constant conspiracy against the brave. It’s the age-old struggle – the roar of the crowd on one side and the voice of your conscience on the other.” -General Douglas MacArthur
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew [5:10]
We hope that you have felt encouraged by today’s episode to face challenges even if your voice shakes, even if you cry.
We will continue with our series “A Better New Year’s Resolution” for the next four weeks. Be sure to check with us next time to learn about being more generous.