How To Be Brave

“Anyone can grow into something beautiful.”

That is an idea I very much want to believe in these days.

The Language of Flowers was a very timely novel to read for me. I don’t have any obvious similarities to Victoria (who, by the way, I immediately pictured as Jennifer Lawrence for some reason). I’m not an orphan or socially awkward (most of the time) or homeless. But we do share a larger commonality, which is the kicking-and-screaming-fight to become someone we think can’t be.

Victoria distrusts everyone and isolates herself in flowers and gardens to escape her horrific foster home past, latching on to the long dead Victorian custom of communication through flowers and their assigned meanings. When she finds that someone starts communicating back in kind, her life takes a sharp turn, and to say she doesn’t embrace it is an understatement. She has to confront decisions she’s made and as she says, ”There was only one way to the other side, and that was through the pain.”

It resonates like a bell in my heart, with a volume that is nearly painful. I am facing innumerable difficulties in my life, inside and out, as I write this. Loneliness, lack of direction, indecision, badly bruised confidence. The harshest reality is that as I look at myself in this struggle, I have found that I am not the brave, courageous woman I thought I was. My life has been blessed thus far and, looking back, I see that I haven’t ever really had to fight for what I wanted. I’ve worked hard, make no mistake about that. No one I know can call me lazy. But brave? Risk taking? Fearless. I must admit I am not. Coming face to face with that has been brutal.

But another passage gave me great hope.

“It wasn’t as if the flowers themselves held within them the ability to bring an abstract definition into physical reality. Instead, it seemed that expecting change, and  the very belief in the possibility instigated a transformation.”

Victoria provides flowers to customers in a flower shop based on their requests – hopes for love, friendship, reconciliation. Even though they don’t know the specific meanings of the flowers she gives them, they are willing to accept her intentions and believe that something spectacular may happen. It is the believing, not the flowers, as we clearly know, that paves the road for change in the heart of those who are seeking it.

So I take this message with me into my trials and opportunities: even if all I can do in a moment of crisis is consciously choose to believe change will come, that choice itself might be what sets the wheels in motion, starting me on the path to be the woman I want to be. I can’t just wait to first be or feel brave and then act accordingly. I must make that first choice, with all fear and no net, and only then see that the action manifested bravery within me.

Be brave today! Do it for me!

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