There is a type of language that resonates with athletes, and those who are not easily daunted.
It is a language for both optimists and realists; replete with words that champion perseverance in spite of difficulty. As an athlete, and as a coach who loves words, I never tire of communicating in this genre. It sounds like this:
“Do the next good thing.”
“When your legs are tired, use your arms.”
“Of course it’s hard!”
“Look how far you’ve come!”
“You are able.”
“It’s a new day.”
“Find your brave.”
I learned to appreciate the beauty of this language as a child. My father was my first teacher and had me speaking fluent brave by the time I could tie my own shoes.
Dad was also my basketball coach in my early years as an athlete, and we both loved leaving it all on the court. Where most kids had elbows and knees, I had three-inch black scabs from practice on the tarmac: a gritty road-rash that never had the chance to heal.
“They aren’t going to give you the ball, Kim, you’ll have to go take it.”
And so, there wasn’t a loose ball I wouldn’t scrap and scrape for in the game; or a race I would ever turn down away from it. I was glad to lay it all on the line for a “well done” from my father.
Ever since those formative years, brave has always been my preferred native tongue. If all else failed, I could at least speak, write, and act boldly – there’s always been that.
I seem to have lost my brave. I worry about staying outside the scrum so that I won’t lose any of my blood or skin (or pride) in the action. I worry what people will think. I care too much what I look like – and sound like – to be effectively brave. I hate it.
“Be strong, Kim” I can hear my dad say, “the LORD is your brave.”
You should know that not only did my dad tutor me in brave as a child, but both my parents also taught me the much harder language of trust.
Trust is different from brave, and like all languages, is harder to master the farther we get from childhood. It is not a language for the strong and sturdy, but for those who are small, poor in spirit, and weak in their own strength. Trust is for the unexceptional and the faint-hearted; for those who feel lame. It is for people – like me – who have lost their brave.
Wherever trust is spoken, it is the loveliest sound in all creation. It is the sound of God telling his people who he is, and his people believing him.
“I made you.”
“I made your world.”
“I give you breath.”
“I give you life.”
“I am your Father.”
“I go ahead of you.”
“I am with you, always.”
“I am for you.”
“I care for your every need.”
“I am your Shepherd”
“The victory is mine.”
“I fight for you.”
“Be strong and courageous.”
“I am your Savior.”
“My son finished well.”
“You are mine forever.”
“I am your Redeemer.”
“I love you.”
“All will be well.”
There are days we all lose heart, and even this is a good reason to give thanks. When our own brave has left the building, the One Who Is Always Brave is still with us.
How do we know, friends?
God’s own son didn’t balk at laying it all down on the line. Out of great love for his father, Christ went all in for us. Also from love, our Heavenly Father gives us the gift of his own Spirit – not just in bits, but in flood amounts.
We can find our brave in this kind of love.
“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.” (Psalm 28)