I stood there and looked at it.

There was no one around.  Everyone had gone home hours before.  I looked to the left of me to make sure.   The little red school house stood empty, resting – waiting for another day of school tomorrow.  To the right of me was the expansive green field – also waiting.

It was directly in front of me – on top of a tiny incline – the tire swing.  There was a hush of silence that hung in the air.

Slowly, cautiously I reached for the tire swing and moved my  11 year old body on top of it’s treads.

I squealed as the tire flung into the air and then swung back.  I got off in a few minutes, breathless but exhilarated. I looked to the left and right of me again – this time quicker than before.  I wanted to determine whether it was safe to go on my daring adventure once again.

I went on it again and again and again.  Each time panting, catching my breath, giggling in the pure freedom and fun of it all.

Why had I not tried it before?  When all of my schoolmates climbed up onto the mound of dirt to take a tire ride why did I always decline – pretending that I didn’t want to do it with all of my heart?

Why does anyone do that?  Say the unspeakable no to obvious adventure?

Because we are afraid.  We are afraid of looking awkward- of being awkward.  We are afraid of what people will say when we step up to the tire – or worse yet,  what they will think.

We are afraid of missing the tire and falling in the dirt underneath.  We are embarrassed to say that we aren’t sure how to get on in the first place but we sure want to try..

So I didn’t.  Day after day,  week after week, month after month, I passed by the tire and gave it a polite nod while all my friends lined up.  I missed the squealing – I missed the peals of laughter. All because I was afraid.   

Until one day I reached for my bravery.  Sure, I tried it alone at first. But at the time that was all the bravery I could muster.

Sometimes we think that’s cheating – if we can’t be all in; if we can’t give 120% then we shouldn’t be doing it at all.  We have this mindset that it’s an all or nothing game in this life; we have to give it everything we have. We feel that bravery is turning your back on all the safety of your life; it’s diving into the abyss of the unknown.  Sometimes it is. Sometimes this is exactly what happens. But more often than not, it’s dipping your big toe in the big vast ocean instead of diving in head first. Sometimes, it’s sticking your head out of your warm fuzzy blanket and blinking in the sun before throwing your blanket off entirely.  We would like to think that being strong; being brave is a black and white process. But sometimes what we need are baby steps to get us out of our comfortable positions in life. You know what is required of you. Moses knew that he couldn’t possibly face Pharaoh alone so he took his brother. Z didn’t want to face the throngs or Jesus alone so he climbed a tree in silence away from everyone.   The woman with the issue of blood, fought through the crowds silently; weaving her way to just touch him. She didn’t yell and scream out to him. She silently touched him. That’s what she could do. There are those in the bible whose bravery won them favour with the Lord even though their bravery wasn’t loud and even though they still had fear and some security around them. If you can’t yell, at least touch him.  IF you can’t stare the enemy down and demand freedom – then take your brother along. Take your sister along. What can you give? What looks like bravery to you today? Don’t give up entirely because you can’t give it your all – you can’t give what you feel needs to be given. Your soul bullies would like to tell you that if you can’t be all in you can’t dip your little finger in either. The truth is though that when you dip your little finger in,  you will realize that God will meet you. God will give you more and more bravery until you are swimming in the waters of his grace.

That one brave act of jumping on the tire swing alone was all I needed to lead me to another and then another until pretty soon I was racing to line up at that tire with all of my friends.    This is true whether we are 10 or 55. We have all stood at the base of a mound of dirt wondering if we can really do the brave thing and grab the tire.

Bravery brings freedom.  One brave act will unlock more brave acts until we find ourselves completely free of the fear that claimed us in the first place.

Go ahead. Grab that tire.  Give what you can. Do what you can.    You will see – God will meet you there.