It’s Day 4 of “100 Days to Brave”, and I am loving the journey so far. It’s given me so much to think about in these first few days, and I’m constantly being reminded that I am already so much braver than I ever give myself credit for.
The thing is that brave is around us all the time. Your life, my life, the media, the books we read, the movies we watch—they are all full of stories of courage and bravery. And when we pay attention enough to notice the brave around us—both in ourselves and others—it changes us for the better. It inspires us and moves us to put courage into action in our lives.
Today’s “100 Days to Brave” challenge was simple. It read: “When you see brave, say so.” So today I want to write about someone whose brave has not only seriously impressed me, but has inspired me as well.
I had the privilege of meeting Kelsey when she was in fourth grade. She was a sweet, quiet little thing whose family attended the same church as my husband and me. But it wasn’t until the summer before her grade ten year that I really got to know Kelsey.
That summer she participated in the Leader In Training (LIT) program that Ryan and I head up at Pleasantview Bible Camp. Teens come out for two weeks of practical training, following which they can spend anywhere from one to three weeks working as junior leaders at camp. Having seen Kelsey grow up over the years, we were so excited to have her in the program! And she was excited to be there! That is… until the first night. As we sat out on the bleachers talking to our group of 19 eager students, all of a sudden our opening session came to a sudden stop.
Kelsey threw up.
Right there, on the bleachers, in front of everyone! (She gave me permission to write this!)
Kelsey had never spent much time away from her family. And although she was really excited about doing LIT, she was so nervous and anxious about being away from home for the next few weeks that it made her physically sick.
But one step at a time, Kelsey got through that summer. I can’t guess at how many times she knocked on my cabin door in the middle of the night because her anxiety was getting the best of her, but I can tell you that she never gave up. She fought through all of her fears and she made an amazing junior cabin leader that year.
I always knew that Kelsey was special. But over the next few years, she rose above and beyond all of my expectations to prove just how remarkable she truly is. Anxiety and depression have always been a massive part of her world, but she refuses to let them hold her back from accomplishing astonishing things.
This summer, Kelsey will spend her fifth summer on staff at PBC, and her second year as the camp secretary. Getting through all of those summers away from home—getting used to sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings away from her family—was not easy for Kelsey. Not once. She laid awake many nights battling with her mind. I’m sure she felt like giving up time and time again. But she didn’t. She chose to push through her fear and become a better, stronger version of herself. She chose brave.
I can’t express what an unimaginable joy and inspiration it has been for me to see Kelsey trample all over her fears in the time I have known her. And the crazy thing is that I know she doesn’t necessarily look at herself all the time and see the kind of hardcore courage that I see. But for real guys, picture one of those epic scenes from an action movie where there’s a giant explosion and then the protagonist emerges victoriously through the flames like the hero that he is!
Yeah, that’s how I see Kelsey. She’s that hero!
She looks at her fears. She knows they scare her and make her want to curl up and hide forever. She knows they want to shut her up, hold her back, pin her down, and make her quit. She knows they are fighting to win. But so is she. So she fights them until she blows them up and walks gloriously out of the rubble, through the flames, like an epic movie hero. Because she is brave.
I could literally go on and on about all of the amazing things that I have watched Kelsey accomplish in her 19 and a half short years. But for the sake of time, I’ll wrap this up. The point is that you don’t normally feel brave when you are walking through the flames. More often than not, what you feel is debilitating fear.
But I’m here today to let you know that the people around you… they look at you and they see you as you really are.
They see you as a hero.
They see you as brave.