Well, friends, 2012 has assumed its place in history and with it, my Year of Living Courageously experiment. As I embark on 2013, I want to reflect for a moment on what I learned from my efforts last year to be a bit braver in all aspects of living: physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, moral.
I’ll state up front that I didn’t live as bravely as I’d hoped I might. I didn’t take on any huge physical challenges, face up to my fear of sky diving or roller coasters or spiders. I didn’t exactly plan to tackle any of those things, but the fact that I didn’t try makes me feel that I didn’t commit myself whole-heartedly to the experiment. I made some headway in honesty in relationships, but wasn’t brave enough to say all the things that needed saying . . . or, I’m sure, hear all the things others were trying to tell me. There’s still time, of course. One of the most valuable outcomes of this experiment was a heightened awareness of moments when courage is needed. Even if I failed to step up to the plate at any given moment this year, I can work my way toward what needs saying or doing in the upcoming months.
A Braver Voice
I’d say my most significant act of courage was writing a different kind of book, a book I don’t have a contract on, one that is deeper and more serious than my usual humorous fare, one that exposes a lot more of me to the reading public. I’m proud of this book, THE RECKONING STONES, and I learned a lot about myself in the process of writing it. It humbled me in many ways and made me come to grips with some ideas I’d never wanted to wrestle with. I think it was a little bit brave of me to open myself to that and take on a new writing challenge.
One of my biggest hopes for 2013 is that I’ll continue to have the courage to write only those things that are truly meaningful to me (and, hopefully, to readers), and not let my creative process get tangled up with worries about getting book contracts, how many books I’m selling, promotional activities, etc. I need to be brave enough to focus on the thinking/writing process and the end product (a book), and not worry about what happens after that. I still feel strongly that the Lord has called me to write, and so I will continue to let the words and ideas flow, shape them into worlds and characters and situations, and try not to concern myself with what kind of an impact they have—or don’t have—once they’re out in the world.
No Courage Too Small
In the face of Connecticut principals sacrificing their lives to try to protect their students from homicidal gunmen, and Muslim girls facing death by insisting on their right, and the right of other women, to be educated, and American servicemen and women putting their lives on the line to protect freedoms around the globe, and firefighters running toward the flames to save lives and homes during the Waldo Canyon fire, my efforts at trying to live more courageously seem puny and almost laughable.
And yet, if we do not choose to live each day more bravely than the day before, in whatever ways are open to us, then the world is a lesser place. Although I don’t plan to blog about living courageously in 2013, I hope we all live more courageously this year, that we run into the flames if it is called for, that we are honest and vulnerable with our loved ones, that we look up and out as well as in, that we risk failure in trying something new or difficult, and that we applaud others’ acts of bravery no matter what form they take.
May it be so for me.
May it be so for you.