Monday, 28 January 2013

New Zealand state of Brave

Well, I went away on camp and took my camera, all charged and ready for some gorgeous shots. Forgot my SD cards. No photos for you!

I just read Favor the Brave: 50 states of Brave. I thought it was a very cool idea and got me thinking about the bravest thing I've ever done. It also features my favourite blogger (guess who). I decided that I wanted to do the same thing, and since I don't think any NZ bloggers read my blog or have done this, I shall call mine the definitive New Zealand state of Brave :D

To start off, I thought about my definition of brave. I think it has to be a personal definition, because what is difficult or scary for one person could be extremely enjoyable and easy for another. Bravery in myself is looking at a situation where I know I want to go crawl under my covers and have a nap, but instead I choose to face whatever is scaring me. Sometimes I do it, sometimes I don't. I tend to err on the side of cautious when it's a physical thing ("can I jump this gap? It's too scary, I think I'll just go around") and I'm trying to be deliberate about erring on the side of risk about emotional, mental, social or spiritual things because I think my life will be richer for having fought my fears.


I do a lot of things that others consider brave, such as dyeing my hair crazy colours, getting facial piercings, shaving my head, dancing at church, wearing wigs, dancing or doing cartwheels in public, public speaking and so on. I don't consider those things as requiring bravery, although a few of them were scary at first (such as wearing a wig, because for some reason I'm fine with shaving my head but not obviously wearing a wig even though I always tell people it's a wig).

I do a lot of things that I consider brave, such as talking to people at work, not removing body hair, checking the air in my tyres at a petrol station, applying for a job, being a sensitive person in the world of online gaming and cooking. Some things are also considered brave (or crazy) by others, like not shaving, but others like cooking or talking to workmates would be considered easy or highly enjoyable by others.

A church outfit and an example of something others consider brave and I do not.

My dress being sleeveless is an aspect of something I consider brave - being sleeveless at church for the first time since I stopped shaving!
There are a number of runner-ups for what I'd consider the bravest thing I've done in my life so far: staying in a backpackers in Aussie by myself, having to cook for myself and talk to strangers; wearing tanktops and togs to allow people to glimpse my hairy armpits (no comments yet!); lead a youthgroup of 16-17 year olds by myself for a year; continue having faith in God when I have so many questions and am feeling so far from Zir.

New Year's Eve with a bunch of people I'd never met before and will probably not meet again, in Aussie. A brave thing for me.

The winner, however, is my work as a youthworker in my local high school. It's a Christian position that requires a deep and steady faith in God, which I've not felt I've had over the past year and it's a demanding job even for a person with a personality and passion well suited to it. I am not such a person. I have a love for people and a huge desire to do work that is meaningful and helpful to others, but I'm not naturally a big people-person and I greatly prefer one-on-one conversations over any type of group interaction which is problematic when I am the sole youthworker in a school of 1600 students (I get another youthworker this year though!). There are many areas in which I struggle, get tired and feel unnatural with my work and every year (sometimes every day) requires a strong effort of will to get back to it. This is my fourth year and, I believe, my last. I've felt very strongly that God has definitely wanted me to be in this place but that after this year I'll be heading somewhere else.

As difficult as I find this job and how often I'm plagued with worries that I'm doing a bad job, there are times where its worth is thrown into sharp relief for me. Recently, I've had the opportunity to have candid conversations two young women I work with (both around 15) and been able to encourage them and heard that they are inspired/impressed by me. That's so encouraging for me, because sometimes I wonder if my fairly light involvement in their lives (and the lives of other kids I work with) could possibly make any sort of difference, and knowing that I can help them just by being around and being myself is very encouraging.

Although I find my job hard and blimmin' scary, I love knowing that I do work that is helping to build God's kingdom on earth, even though I'm not allowed to talk about religion at school. Loving people as much as I'm capable of is rewarding and it's a privilege to be allowed into the school.

Hard at work youthworkin' on Pink Shirt Day (note my hilariously ironic t-shirt).

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