Clara Oswald: Let Me Be Brave
So I've always wanted to be a hero. Like from the time Ninja Turtles crossed my screen, or the first time I saw that lightning flash happen on Batman: The Animated Series, it was in me. I'm sure it was there before, but those were definitely defining things for me. But to be that person that could be brave enough to face danger, defend others, and not back down in the face of opposition -- that's who I wanted to be. I have that desire, but rarely the opportunities to carry it out. Sometimes the times I have had, I've been too timid or self cautious and missed out on them. I still feel like I've lived my life pretty heroically on a personal scale, but there's that underlying desire to be brave when I need to.
If my family is home and I hear a strange noise, I'm up in no time flat with a baseball bat (one side says "Kiss It" from "Hack/ Slash" the other side says "Zur En Arrh" from Grant Morrison's run), or I have a sword named Cortana, but one of these weapons of choice are in my hands as I'm running towards the noise, as brave as can be in order to protect my family. There's never actually been a need for a bat or sword, but that's not stopped me yet. On the flip side, if I'm home alone and hear the same noise, I'd probably be way too scared to grab anything and run. I find that it is a lot braver when I have someone I need to be brave for. I want my presence to always be a reassurance or comfort for my family. For my kids to know "Daddy is here" when something rough is taking place and that my bravery can be a comfort is all I want. If you have spent much time in church, you have probably heard that the Bible tells us not to be afraid 365 times. I've never actually researched it myself, but regardless of the statistical count the Bible does encourage us to handle our fears and rise above them on a regular basis.
One of the best examples I've seen of this in a long time was with Clara Oswald in the episode "Face The Raven." Let me just say this first off, I wasn't ready for this episode. I was expecting Clara's demise to come at like the season finale or at the last moment. I sat down with my wife and kids after church one Sunday and we were all eating lunch watching this episode and it just freakin broke my heart. My 7 year old daughter had to look at me as I was being openly weepy and comfort me saying "It's going to be okay, daddy."
As Clara had tried to outsmart Me/Ashildir to save Rigsy's life, she single-handedly doomed herself and found that she was unexpectedly on the end of a death sentence with minutes to spare. It wasn't her death that made me weepy; it was how she handled it. It was her bravery, her heroism in the face of destruction that overwhelmed me. The episode "Listen" made me a fan. This episode made me absolutely love her. She didn't just bravely face death, but she bravely guided The Doctor through it in advance, cast off all selfishness, and truly thought of others above herself.
So let's check out some lessons on bravery from Clara.
Being Brave To Own Mistakes-
Clara screwed up. This was her fault. If she had listened to The Doctor, Rigsy, Me, or anyone else, she would have been fine. She would have been left standing there on Trap St. With Rigsy as The Doctor was sent off into his confession dial. She probably would have gotten into a ton of trouble trying to rescue him, but either way she wouldn't have died. Every single part of her facing the raven was her responsibility But she owned it. She knew it. She made sure The Doctor, & Rigsy knew it too. She knew that if Rigsy blamed himself he'd regret it his entire life and become embittered. She knew that The Doctor would not only blame himself and become toxic, but also bring a lot of collateral damage to Me and Trap Street. So even though she was scared, facing death she stopped to make sure no one else was blamed for this.
Clara: "Doctor, for God's sake, will you stop? I did this, do you hear me? I did this. This is my fault."
So often when confrontation, despair, failure, or conflict happens, we are quick to avoid blame. We want to do whatever we can to avoid owning our
mistakes, or accepting responsibility for our actions. Bravery, on the other hand stands up in it's mistakes and failures, and regardless of the fear, backlash, or intimidation, owns them. "Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him." - James 1:12 Being Brave Means Facing Reality- Clara's time was short. She could have spent it arguing, blaming others, debating, worrying, panicking or anything else. But she didn't waste her time trying to convince herself or anyone else of. She assessed her situation honestly, she looked at the reality of it and then dealt with it from that point on.
Clara: Is there anything you can do?
Ashildr: I'm sorry. I'm truly sorry, I......
Clara: Time's short. Yes or no?
Ashildr: No. Clara: Well, if Danny Pink can do it, so can I.
Doctor: Do what? Clara: Die right. Die like I mean it. Face the Raven.
Even in that moment, she had to be brave enough to hear the hard truth, face reality and move on. For me, I find this a difficult task. I'm the type of person I'd rather just not know and find out the truth when it happens. I hate going to the doctor (my actual physical doctor, not the Timelord) because I don't want to find out that something's wrong. I know that's lame and stupid to behave that way, but I'm also not the only one. It takes bravery to actually ask really examine your situation when it's so easy to just let things go without questioning anything. Just like we see in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, "but test everything; hold fast what is good."
It's easy to run from our struggles, or even the possibility of struggle in our situation, but God calls us to be brave, like a lion. Lions don't run from potential threats or the unknown. They run to it. "The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion." - Proverbs 28:1
You aren't just brave for yourself, you are brave for others.
Clara was scared. Proper scared, and rightfully so. She just learned that not only was she given a death sentence, but that the immortal and the Timelord in the room both agreed she was doomed. It would have been easy for her to just deal with her own emotions or fears, but she quickly turned from comforting herself or processing her own finite existence to then safeguarding The Doctor's heart.
She knew he was just as scared or even more scared than she was. He was the one who had been alive for thousands of years and up until her had lost everyone he had loved. She knew she was the last person alive he truly loved. So she wasn't just brave for herself. She was brave for him.
Clara: You. Now, you listen to me. You're going to be alone now, and you're very bad at that. You're going to be furious and you're going to be sad, but listen to me. Don't let this change you. No, listen. Whatever happens next...wherever she is sending you, I know what you're capable of. You don't be a warrior. Promise me. Be a Doctor.
The Doctor: What's the point of being a Doctor if I can't cure you?
Clara: Heal yourself. You have to. You can't let this turn you into a monster. So...I'm not asking you for a promise. I'm giving you an order. You will not insult my memory. There will be no revenge. I will die, and no-one else, here or anywhere, will suffer.
The Doctor: What about me?
Clara: If there was something I could do about that, I would. I guess we're both just going to have to be brave.
If it wasn't for her, he could have ended up back living alone on the top of a cloud, given up in the confession dial, or killed Me when he finally made it out. She was brave enough to cause him to be brave as well. That is what happens when we are brave. We can encourage each other to do the same. Bravery can be heavily contagious, just like fear. When we are brave for others we literally give them the strength to do the same.
When Jesus was telling his disciples that he was leaving them, He very well may have felt the fear of what he was going to in the future, but he knew the fear that would grip their hearts. He knew that they would be afraid, scattered, persecuted, confused, full of doubts, and lost, so he took time to be brave and strengthen them, even though He was the one about to get crucified. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." - John 14:27 Being Brave Means Standing Alone Sometimes
Clara knew that watching her die was going to destroy The Doctor, that it would only dramatically enhance the pain he was going to go through. She knew that standing alone at the end would not only guard him, but also show him that she was strong, and brave, and that hopefully her bravery would be a consultation to him. If she had laid there weeping in his arms as the raven came for her, he would be even more traumatized. Beyond just doing it for him, I think she did it for her. She had been brave, reckless, and bold for so long that it was important to her to finish strong. She had died so many times before throughout The Doctor's time stream in horrible ways, she needed to face it head on this time, under her terms. She had to prove it to herself.
Doctor: Don't run. Stay with me. Clara: Nah. You stay here. In the end, everybody does this alone. Doctor: Clara- Clara: This is as brave as I know how to be. I know it's going to hurt you, but, please, be a little proud of me. Goodbye, Doctor.
She was braver than I have ever been, and in a lot of ways braver than The Doctor. If in that moment you couldn't respect Clara Oswald, I think something is missing in you. Being brave means that we stand alone when we have to, that if we can be brave without wounding others. It's so easy to put all our hurts, burdens, fears, and suffering on others, but sometimes the best thing to do is to take them ourselves to guard them from it. This doesn't mean to isolate yourself, or to not be intimate with people, but sometimes the bravest thing is to stand alone and finish strong.
"For each one should carry their own load." - Galatians 6:5
Now granted, The Doctor saved Clara, a couple episodes later. After slowly ripping out our hearts. So she's technically alive and running through time and space with Me in their Wiggle Room. None of that discounts her bravery, or the example she set before us, either. So I encourage you to be brave. Don't let fear have a hold over your life. Don't let your bravery be based on stubbornness or self reliance either. As a believer our bravery should be grounded in the fact that our God is with us, powerful, and loving. His love and presence in our life should cast out fear and make us bold. Clara was brave with The Doctor standing behind her on Trap Street, but our God is so much more than The Doctor. Let me be brave, let you be brave, let God give you bravery. "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." - 2 Timothy 1:7
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:9