On Being Brave

Posted on June 22, 2017

“Am I truly brave? Or do I just want to be a hero?”

It is such a strange time, directly after losing a child. No one seems to know what to do or what to say to you. It is like suddenly being snatched out of your own life and thrust into a vacuum of awkwardness where no one else wants to dwell. A desert no one else wants to even think about.

For me, after Joel died that was certainly the case, with exception of Joel’s hurting and confused friends, with whom I suddenly found myself surrounded. And the majority of Joel’s friends were some pretty lost and confused kids in general. Those were the kids he had just naturally gravitated to. I think that was because Joel was a natural Lover of the Hurting. He was like a neighborhood “crisis line.”

It’s 4:00 am and a young girl he has befriended has an overwhelming urge to cut her wrists ~ call Joel. One kid is so mad at another, he is going around making death threats ~ call Joel and he will “talk him down”. Another girl has an eating disorder ~ call Joel…he would spend hours talking to her to help her feel better. Scared, sad or lonely? Call Joel. For a short time near the end of his life, before it seemed as if he just gave up and succumbed to the growing darkness inside himself, Joel had wanted to be a counselor. And he would have been a good one.

So I guess that was why those were the kids I began helping. That was all great…until they grew up, stopped coming to my house and forgot all about me. I guess. But I could never, ever forget about them. To me, they were my new children. Since the majority of them were boys, and I still had my precious daughter Heather, I began to wonder. Why was I helping all of these kids?

Was I doing it for me or was I doing it for them? Perhaps I was trying to replace Joel. If so, I wasn’t doing that consciously, but that didn’t  mean I wasn’t doing it. After each one of the kids learned what they needed from me, they went home to their grateful families. And there I was. Alone with a broken heart. It was nobody’s fault. After all, they weren’t my real children. And even though many of them called me “Mom” for awhile, I wasn’t their real mother. My real boy was gone. 


As time went on, I began to carefully examine my heart and the motives for my actions. It seemed as if being with other teens had actually filled a part of the gapping hole in my heart and soul. I started to wonder if that feeling of fullness was real.

Was I truly brave, or did I just want to be a hero?

When I began thinking down this dark rabbit hole, I suddenly began to panic. What if there wasn’t enough goodness in me that was pure? What if my desire to give was actually a sick way of taking ~ taking for myself? Or what if what I was giving away wasn’t what was wanted or needed?

Just recently, I decided I didn’t really care…that it didn’t really matter one way or the other. I suddenly realized I was hyper-focusing on myself. Believe me, that is a very unproductive and depressing place to be. I decided if one young person was helped by any act of kindness I was able to do for them, I should just stop worrying. It wasn’t about me anyway. If I am able to do anything good at all, it isn’t me doing or being that goodness anyway…it is God. Because God is Love.

That’s when it became joyfully obvious to me:


It is actually possible to give more than you have…

more than you even are.


It is really totally irrelevant whether I am brave or not. Or a hero or not. This freedom in giving is possible, but only if I stop thinking about myself. If I thought of God as the giver and not myself, I could find deep joy in giving ~ giving and not being in the least bit depleted.




everything else seemed to come together... My creativity, my love of helping hurting people, my belief in art as a healing agent and my faith in a God who is filled with love for us all.
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Thank you for visiting my site. If my writing or art connects with you, I’d love to hear from you. I’m also available as an art teacher to students of all ages. In addition, I mentor marginalized students, using art to help them find their unique voice and move toward their full potential.