Intersection Column | Bravery Is More Than a Lack of Fear
by Nicole Deese
I’m a bit of an anomaly in my mostly introverted peer group of writer friends. You see, I happen to be an extrovert, which is just another way of saying I’m wired for all things social. If there’s an upcoming gathering, I want to attend it. If there’s talk of a girl’s night, I’m the first to extend extra invitations. And it probably goes without saying that when it comes to long road trips without the use of a radio or weekend retreats that encourage heart-to-hearts with popcorn and dark chocolate…I’m your gal. In fact, even in my professional life, I often joke that I “write by committee” because of the involvement I have with my two writing sisters and their valuable input on my first—and let’s face it, my seventh—drafts. So, it might surprise you to read that as much as I love being with people—I can also be deathly afraid of them.
The fear of people’s opinions and potential judgment and rejection over something I’m doing/not doing has been a recurring theme/conviction in my life and in my walk with the Lord for some time now. And while I can likely pinpoint the origin of this fear to an unfavorable experience in my childhood, this fear didn’t stop when I graduated high school. Or after I got married. Or after I had children. Or even after I started writing about characters with issues similar to my own.
After a decade of writing and 15 published books under my belt, I still struggle to push past the fear of man’s approval and grab hold of the only approval that can ever truly satisfy.
When I first started writing my upcoming release, All That It Takes, I worried I wouldn’t be able to connect with my heroine, Val Locklier, as her introverted personality is quite different from my own. But the Lord wasted no time in showing me just how similar we were when it comes to our insecurities. Much of Val’s timidity stems from being differently-abled than her peers due to a childhood accident that resulted in a life-long limp. But her crippling anxieties not only limit her pursuit of the arts she loves but also create a domino effect of poor decisions that keep her bound to shame and afraid to trust others, even when those others are wildly attractive neighbors who desire more than friendship. The truth is that her comfort zone became paralyzing.
Somewhere around the halfway point of drafting this book, I had a mental block. I was stuck. Like the really, really, beat-my-head-against-my-desk kind of stuck. This wasn’t the first breakdown I’ve had as a writer, and it surely won’t be the last, but as I stared at the blank screen in front of me, frustration toward my heroine sparked in my gut. Why couldn’t she just BE BRAVE AND SIMPLY GO AFTER WHAT SHE REALLY WANTS?
And then, I heard the gentle voice of my Savior whisper that bravery doesn’t just happen to a person. Bravery takes a willingness to be vulnerable. And vulnerability takes a willingness to be open to criticism, judgment and even rejection. Bravery is more than a lack of fear. It’s an accepted invitation to be seen and known.
Fat tears rolled down my cheeks as I realized the real reason Val’s story was at a standstill. She wasn’t the only one who was stuck. I was, too. I hadn’t yet been willing to take my own steps of vulnerability within my manuscript. I was too busy writing safe, writing comfortable. I was too busy keeping the words on the page from the possibility of controversy. I tip-toed around offense and took zero emotional risks, which was exactly why my character couldn’t move forward. Not in her career, not in her slow-burn romance with her neighbor, not in her life.
I spent the next several weeks re-working much of my plot and reframing those safe storylines for some vulnerable twists and turns. And whenever the fear fog started to roll in, I’d ask myself, “Is what I’m writing true?” If the answer was yes, it stayed. And because of this, Val’s risk-reward ratio intensified ten-fold . . . and so did her bravery.
In the end, Val’s journey has little to do with the fact that she’s an introvert or that she walks with a limp. Instead, it has everything to do with what happens when we allow ourselves to throw off the fear that so easily entangles and exchange it for the freedom God gives when we’re brave enough to walk in the truth.
About the Author
Nicole Deese is a Carol Award winner and a RITA and INSPY Award finalist. When she's not working on her next contemporary Christian romance novel, she can usually be found reading one by a window overlooking the inspiring beauty of the inland northwest. She lives in small-town Idaho with her happily-ever-after hubby, two tech-nerd sons, and one princess daughter with the heart of a warrior. You can find her online at www.nicoledeese.com. Be sure to subscribe to her occasional newsletters and to connect with her on Facebook and Instagram at @nicoledeeseauthor.
About the Book
After Val Locklier reluctantly agrees to rent an apartment from her best friend's brother, an unexpected chance at an elite filmmakers' mentorship ignites fresh hope for a dream career. Meanwhile, Pastor Miles McKenzie returns home from a short-term mission trip to discover that he has an intriguing new tenant living upstairs. As Val struggles to stop hiding behind the camera and Miles wrestles with shattered expectations, they'll find that authentic love and sacrifice must go hand in hand.
Did You Know?
It turns out STEM books for young children are even more important than we first thought. Success in subjects other than reading is largely determined by developing good reading skills as early as possible. New research is finding that:
The brain uses the same functional networks for math as for reading. This tells us reading skill levels affect how children (and adults) tackle problems in other subjects including math.
The development of early math and reading skills are intertwined. When math and reading are taught together, children learn more math than when they are taught math in isolation.
Children’s books provide many ways to highlight math. Even books not considered STEM books can offer opportunities to tell stories, read together and engage in “math talk” about age-appropriate math concepts in ways that promote both literacy and math skills.
These new research findings tell us it’s time to stop thinking of ourselves or our kids as “left-brained” or “right-brained.” If the brain is using the same networks to develop reading and math skills, there’s no reason we can’t be successful at both. And, as parents and grandparents, we can help ensure our kids and grandkids are set up for success in both disciplines by providing plenty of opportunities to engage in reading and math activities combined.
University at Buffalo. "Read to succeed -- in math; study shows how reading skill shapes more than just reading." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210311142044.htm (accessed December 30, 2021).
 Harris, Barbara, and Dana Peterson. Developing Math Skills in Early Childhood. Mathematica-MPR.com, 2017. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED587415.pdf.
-Wendy Hinote Lanier, Too Many Pigs in the Pool
Why I LOVE My Local Christian Bookstore
“I like shopping in bookstores so I can hold the book in my hands and get a better idea of what I am purchasing.”
-Denise Pass, Make Up Your Mind: Unlock Your Thoughts, Transform Your Life