Being Brave

October 02, 2014

October is my favorite month. It's easy for my fellow autumn-lovers to understand this -- changing colors, falling leaves, crisp air, putting boots and sweaters back into the rotation. October is also a month that I can't help but take time to reflect on the first time in my life that I had to be really brave.

Spina Bifida is a birth defect that most people have heard of but that few really understand. Spina Bifida shares its awareness month with breast cancer and Down syndrome, so you can see why it might be overlooked. I lived 25 Octobers before I knew about SB in a personal way.

The whole story isn't really important here. I've written plenty about my pregnancy and Molly's delivery. I've shared about the amniocentesis and my fear about the possible pain of the procedure. I've shared about watching my newborn recover from neurosurgery and how I had to care for her wound. I've told everyone about those seventeen days in the NICU and the emotion of it all. What I haven't shared with too many people outside of my circle is how brave Molly has been all of her life.

Needle sticks and procedures and tests are run of the mill for Molly. She has never known a life in which frequent trips to Children's and other medical facilities didn't exist. She hates it all, and she has understandably had her share of meltdowns as she dreaded the next thing. Really, though, those times  were easy for me to stand beside her or under her and encourage her to be brave because they were required -- they are necessary if we want to keep her healthy.

My middle girl has had to be brave in other ways that, quite honestly, have put me in touch with every negative emotion I could have. She's had to be brave and walk into a classroom or a cafeteria or a social event knowing that she would be the odd girl out. She has had to smile and blink back tears as girls whispered back and forth in front her. She has been brave enough to share all this with me, and she has been braver still to handle it on her own. Molly has shown courage and grace in the face of mean middle school girls -- that's common but be assured it is no small thing.

Thankfully, I'm able to report that her bravery is paying off. This year she left the middle school years behind and she is embracing her freshman year of high school. This year is bringing new friends, new activities, and a new delight in going to school. I hoped for this. I prayed for it. Just like Molly was brave, I was brave. I waited when I wanted to jump in and control the situation. I resisted the ugly urge to call up mommas and fill them in. I respected her wishes and didn't involve teachers or administrators even though I think she was walking through a clear-cut case of bullying. Sometimes, the really difficult, brave thing for me to do is hold my tongue. I was brave enough to trust that by God's Grace she would come through this unscathed, hopefully with an empathy for others that she wouldn't have learned so early on had this not happened.

I want to continue to be brave. I want my girls to believe that they are brave, too. Certainly the episodes of our lives that require bravery look much differently for us than in places where bravery means life or death. Mean girls are a very first world problem. But, bravery begins where you are. Who can possibly know what bigger acts of bravery lie ahead for any one of us? Be brave, and be bold right where you are.

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