Being Brave

family farm

As far as I can tell, all the responses I have gotten to the news that I quit my job to write a book fall into two categories: the excited for me crowd and the raised eyebrow, “okaaaay,” secretly-think-I’m-crazy people.

Amongst the people who have expressed excitement over what I am doing, there have been a few who were awed by the news as well as some who have called me brave.

Me? Brave?

The first time I heard it, I just thought, Really? But I would rather be called “brave” than “stupid” so I let it go.

But it happened again. And again. A few more times and it was stuck in my head.

Do these people know me? I am no risk taker, I thought. I don’t think I’ve really shocked anyone with my decision, but the idea that it took courage was puzzling to me. My response was to shake my head and move on. The words I wanted to say — to convince them that it wasn’t at all what they thought — wouldn’t come. Because I hadn’t worked it out for myself yet.

On one of my last days in the office, a coworker was talking to me about my plans for the summer. She had somehow missed my news over the previous weeks. She sat, mouth agape, as I told her what I was doing. After answering a few of her questions, her mouth crept into a tiny grin that grew into a wide smile.

“Thank you,” she said.

“For what?”

“Being you. Being brave. Following your dream.” She proceeded to tell me her dream — a detailed image of a cabin in the woods and the life she would have in it.

“You’ve helped me see my cabin in the woods again.”

Not that I needed any more confirmation at that point, but her words kind of did it for me. My decision was primarily about me and being true to the things that I want from life, but if my choices could have that kind of impact on another person…if they could be inspired to remember what they want…how could I fail at this?

On June 2, 2012 I picked up my favorite journal, a well-loved Moleskine, and wrote these words:

I wish I was brave. People have been telling me that I am lately, since I am leaving my job.

I don’t believe it is bravery. For me, there was no other choice. Somehow, I have gotten back on this path. This was where I was meant to be from the beginning.

You are there. You have always been there. I am sorry it’s taken me so long to come home to you.

All I am doing is returning to the thing I have loved since I was a little girl…to the desires of my heart that have been there for years. This is the only thing I know to do.

Is it brave to be honest with yourself?
To acknowledge your hopes for the future, even if they are incongruous with the present?
To dig up the best version of yourself and revive it?
To return to your first love?

Seven years and one day before that entry, there was this. Maybe it won’t make much sense out of context. But the pieces fit.

Excavation

Perhaps in a past life they died together and were buried under miles of sea. And now they’re being discovered. Bones…bodies all tangled up and together and keeping the other warm. But a hand reaches out now and it knows, hesitates in touching that flesh it has longed for. For the first time in centuries, eyes meet and stop, breathing. You’ve been there. Forever.

26 Replies to “Being Brave”

    1. It will be something, someday. It’s got a life of its own and is way too autobiographical in nature for me to share completely right now. Had to edit and pare it down just to post it here.

      Thank you though! I needed some affirmation 🙂

  1. I think I actually used the word courage in my response. I say that because I know you are not a risk taker by nature and that it is a leap of faith to quit your job and rely on the Lord. But mostly I say that because many people haven’t even been able to uncover their dream, and some have but don’t have the courage like you to break away from the norm and follow it. It would be easy and comfortable and secure for you to stay in your job, and a lot of people could never get past that or get past some of the notions that our society has set for us that this is what we are supposed to do. There are so many people who have never even tried to follow their dreams for one reason or another so I applaud you for knowing yourself well enough to be true to your calling and having the faith in God to feel secure enough to break away from the norm.

  2. Following one’s dream is brave. It’s easy to sit in a cubical somewhere and dream about making things different. The hard part is standing up doing what needs to be done to get there. So yes, you are brave.

    Also, love love love love that “excavation” scene…wow, so powerful. 😀

  3. such a great post. and yes, being brave is when we do something even when we feel terrified that we may fail, but we have to do it anyway. congratulations for being brave and inspiring others as well.

  4. I find you both brave and inspiring. As a non-risk-taker myself, I’ve been struggling lately with determining where my true passion lies. There’s a part of me that wants to do something huge. Something slightly reckless. But, I don’t know what that something is quite yet. I also feel that if my TRUE passion isn’t teaching, I need to go into another field. There’s nothing worse than a teacher who is doing it for the paycheck. This is something I definitely struggle with. Anyway, I’ve rambled on a bit. This is all to say that I’m so very excited to be able to read and share in this journey with you! You’ve honestly forced me to start thinking about things that I’ve swept under the rug for a while now.. And, that last bit of writing? Absolutely stunning.

    1. Sometimes I think I started down this path years ago, when I changed my major from “Secondary Language Arts Education” to “English – Writing” — because that was the moment that people started asking, “But…what are you going to do?” I didn’t have a good answer then, not even for myself, because my only plan had been to teach and to write on the side. But there is nothing like sitting in an education course and figuring out that is not your passion to throw you off kilter. Thank God that I realized I needed to get out of it then instead of 20 years down the road.

      We’re young yet. We both have time! I really believe that it takes some living to find out where you need to be to truly Live. And here’s hoping you find the place where you can do that soon. I’m glad to be on a similar journey with you 🙂

  5. Elizabeth, sometimes the greater purpose of a decision doesn’t reveal itself until later — as in your co-worker finding her “cabin” and the inspired comments above. You did what you needed to do for you, but the ripple effect of “digging up your best self and reviving it” has touched other lives, including mine. Thanks for sharing that fantastic bit of fiction at the end, too — wowza!

  6. Congrats on taking the plunge. It’s brave to follow your dreams – and it’s the right thing to do. So many people don’t take the risks, but I think doing this is a fantastic step for you. Shifts in perspective can often help that dream become a reality.

    Good luck to you – I can’t wait to hear your updates 😀

  7. I would love love love to see your blog host more excerpts like excavation and more essays like this brave one. You are such an excellent writer and I am always left wanting to read more.

    (On a totally practical level, but still brave, more women should do what you’re doing, if they want to, because it doesn’t assume a dual-income requirement. Although I have no doubt you could easily make money writing).

    1. Thanks, Rose. I was a little taken aback by the response, I guess because what I assume people are most interested in reading is really not what I get the most response from (apparently this kind of post is what most people care about reading). Noted!

      I wish I had done this a long time ago. I know it’s happening now for a reason, but wowee, is it ever liberating!

  8. Hi Elizabeth,

    I’m Jolene’s friend Lindsay and stumbled upon your blog.

    You really are brave! And your decision to quit your job to pursue your true calling is inspiring for sure.

    I’m working a temporary job at the moment and am looking forward to the end, when I can finally do some soul searching to find what my true calling is.

    Good for you for following your nature. You’re an inspiration!

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Lindsay!

      I appreciate your kind words. This is definitely me stepping out…in faith and hope that there is something better out there for me. Wishing you the best in your search as well!

  9. Hi! I meant to comment last week on this, but you know—life. 😉

    You are brave. It is always interesting to hear a word applied to you (me/you/whomever) when one doesn’t especially feel that way. Perception is an interesting little concept.

    I would definitely love to read more essays like this. I’m hoping to start writing a little bit more openly on occasion too, to work on my own writing skills.

    1. I’m so behind on blog commenting, it’s not even remotely humorous anymore! So, no worries 🙂

      Perception is interesting and I guess that’s what it boils down to.

      I think I will have to work on pulling more of this sort of thing out of me, because it’s not what naturally occurs to me when I’m writing here, however, I’ve noticed it gets the most response out of readers. Overwhelmingly so.

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