“You are brave,” she told me. “You had your liberal, lesbian friends of color and their kids over to your house with your in-laws there. That’s pretty brave.” But I’m not. I’m not brave enough to put a favorite quote on my wall because it has a swear word in it. I’m not brave for psyching myself up to tear myself away from real problems. I’m not brave for coming clean about wrongs I’ve done. And I’m not brave for being kind to people. These are the basics we should expect from ourselves!
How crazy backwards have we got this. Being kind to gay people in front of Christians is brave. And maybe it is. But hold on. You worship an omnipotent God. A God who’s son came to earth to live as a human and basically told God the Father, “Hey man, this species has it pretty damn hard. I think I’m going to die for them.” You worship a God overcome with empathy and supremely concerned with relationships with all people from all walks of life. You worship a God who’s justice is sure. You worship an omnipresent God. Yet, it’s brave to be kind to the people that God died for? Isn’t it the height of cowardly? Wouldn’t the person who’s willing to spit in the face of that God be brave in the reckless truly dauntless way? Wouldn’t it be the most offensively passable thing to treat people decently? Trust me I am not brave.
My relationship with my friends has nothing to do with bravery. It’s Christ, I hope. I hope that’s what its about. Being the kind of person saturated with empathy and kindness, who values and fears that God. In honesty, in responsibility, I may be brave. Perhaps. But in my kindness, I’m not brave. I’m selfish. I want to uplift and be uplifted. I want to share, and be shared with. I want to inspire and be inspired. I want to be sharpened. Most of all, I want that empathy. I want to meet and know and love people very different with me, so every time an audaciously ignorant individual crosses my path, I Can be brave. I can bravely and fiercely show my empathy for people they overlook or look down on. That’s what brave. Christ-likeness sacrificing the smooth waters for a rocking boat in the name of love and empathy.