Tension

from Michael Carron

I have to be honest. It feels somewhat strange to write about "boldness" in the current social, political and global climate:

  • Hundreds of thousands of refugees are running for their lives from a modern day ethnic cleansing.
  • Millions more have been forced from their homes to protect themselves and their disoriented, confused and terrified families from a war they didn't start.
  • On our own soil, 22,000 lives will struggle to silence the sound of bullets spraying through the air from cowardice domestic terrorism, over 500 injured and 60 lives taken.

The list can stretch from hurricane disaster and forest fires to social inequalities and the foster care crisis. The longer the list goes the greater the potential to leave out groups experiencing real challenges that take real "boldness".

I can't help it - I look at these situations (and so many others) and question whether or not I can consider myself "bold". Maybe it's more appropriate to say I make light of my struggle to make room for those who have gone through longer, more painful challenges and risen above the proverbial odds. When I think of boldness in these terms it's hard to imagine I have a leg to stand on. With this thinking, where does the comparison stop? At the very least there has to be a different way of thinking. 

The longer I process and stare at my empty screen with an impatient blinking black vertical line the less I'm convinced that justice can be served or stories truly honored by reducing them to the comparison game. For the sake of giving ourselves permission to "Go Boldly" with integrity, it's important for me to understand what it means to be bold. Is it possible to say that someone with debilitating social anxiety is courageous without condescending or trivializing the courage it takes for a refugee to flee an active war zone? I think so. I have a growing suspicion (and I think informed experience tells us all) that courage and boldness are all about facing what's right in front of us.

To save time I think it's helpful to wipe the slate clean for all of us as we talk about what it means to be courageous in our faith and simply define "bold". I'm a definitions guy so I often type "define *fill in the blank with some word I don't know so I don't look stupid*" in the Google search bar.

"Bold" came from the Old High German word "bauld" which meant "requiring or exhibiting courage" or "audacious, overstepping usual bounds". Condensing those definitions I think it's safe to say: to be "bold" is to possess the potential to do something that takes courage; to do something that pushes you outside where you would normally step even if (or especially if) it frightens you. 

Only later did bold come to mean something that stands out from the rest (hence our - or my - propensity toward comparison). We've all heard someone say "well that was a bold choice" when pointing out someone decided to do (or even wear) something different from everyone else. That's not the kind of boldness we're calling friends of Uncharted to. It certainly can and may look very different from everything else, but the real call is to go on a search for what boldness means to you. What is just outside your usual bounds and seems to be calling your name? What's right in front of you daring you with each passing moment to stand your ground or concede? To step up or step back? To speak or be silent? ______ or ______? 

These are the questions we ask when we talk about what it means to live a bold or courageous life. At the very least it's a place to start, short of throwing yourself into imminent danger. Regardless of what courage asks us to do. If those questions are hard to answer it may be worth putting yourself in a situation to start living in that tension. If you find yourself going back and forth living with that all too familiar knot in your stomach, well... take heart; it seems you're in good company. That's what this movement is all about.

Noah Gray