It was 1814 and the thirteen colonies were in the throes of the War of 1812, fighting against the British, both of whom had captured prisoners. Baltimore lawyer, Francis Scott Key, was sent out to an enemy ship to negotiate prisoner exchange for men of the colonies, a brave act on his part.
Except that the British laid down an ultimatum; either put down your flag or we will bomb Fort Henry with the entire British war fleet. The flag that stood on the rampart was to be lowered, effectively surrendering the colonies under British rule.
When the colonies refused to surrender, the ships opened fire at sunset. It was Key who famously penned our National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, as a memorial of that night:
“The rocket’s red glare… bombs bursting in air…gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.”
The men on the ship prayed… the flag had been hit directly all night long, but it was still flying. Watch this video to find out what was holding the flag:
“The thing that sets the American Christian apart from all other people in the world, is he will die on his feet before he’ll live on his knees.” -George Washington
Baby Steps of Bravery
Why was bravery such an important character trait in the building of our nation? Because it was a fight begun on the principle of liberty from the absolute rule of a monarchy, and freedom. Bravery is defined as possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance; facing fear, difficulty, pain, or danger.
It begins with small acts. Small risks. Stepping outside of one’s “normal” to embrace change, even when it’s scary.
I want my kids to be brave, I want to see them take risks and build endurance. But they need to see it in action first. If I’m going to expect bravery from my kids, they need to see me step out and take my own risks.
The courage to stand up to the war ships in our own lives is a choice we have to make for ourselves. Courage changes something inside of us, it rewires our defense mechanisms to take on more courageous acts. But there must be a motivation behind it. For the colonists, they fought because falling under British authority, the very thing they escaped from, was not something they were willing to submit to again. They had tasted freedom, and the pain of returning to bondage was greater than the pain of fighting for their own country.
Just Be Brave
Just as our founding fathers had to stand up to the British, we can stand for justice in our communities, our homes, and within our personal relationships. As we raise our children to love and honor God, and trust Him to guide us, bravery will be necessary to plunge through the ever-changing society they will be exposed to. It was the courage of conviction that held the original thirteen colonies together, which would eventually become the fifty United States of America, as it was the courage of Jesus to go to the cross at Calvary and die for our sins, that we might be free:
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
There are many ways we can practice bravery. Just this week, our own family stepped out in faith!
- My daughter learned to jump off an 8-foot wall into the ocean, because she wanted to see if she could do it.
- My son was brave when he sought out a friend to resolve a conflict, because friendship is important to him.
- I had to be brave this week when my son fell off the top bunk of his bed flat on his back and knocked the wind out of him, because holding back my tears kept him from being afraid in the moment.
- My husband was brave when he approached me about how my words affected him within our relationship, because he needs to be able to trust me with his feelings. We’re learning to apologize more readily, and give grace more frequently.
How Can Your Family Practice Bravery?
- Have a difficult conversation
- Apologize to heal a broken relationship
- Change careers and learn a new skill
- Set a budget and stick to it for 3 months
- Go without technology for a day… or a week
- Walk up to a stranger to ask a question
- Speak honestly about your feelings
- Follow through with a medical procedure
- Enter a new social situation
- Risk losing a job by standing for your moral & ethical convictions
- Admit when you don’t know something and ask for help
- Tackle a project you’ve been putting off
- Reveal your creative project to someone else
I Want to See You
We need to be able to witness acts of bravery, not only to tell our kids stories of heroes or be left in awe at someone else’s story. We need to step out and try that thing we’ve been afraid of – maybe it’s the thing that sends our whole body into panic. Let’s dig and see what might be holding us back, is it fear of rejection? Is it fear of the unknown?
Take some time this week to reflect and share with a trusted friend, or even here in the comments… what is the one thing you would do if there was no fear? You never know… your one act of bravery might inspire someone else in their own struggle.
…and thank a member of the armed services today. Their bravery allows us to live in this free country.
::: Song to pump you up: Brave by Sara Bareilles :::