As I sit cross-legged on my bed, the rain hitting my windows with the softest patterings, the thunder rolling in the distance, the word “brave” echoes through the caverns of my heart. The word has been my anthem this summer and now this fall in the face of fears and lies. It has been painted, like war paint on my cheeks and a battle cry in my throat. It has been the challenge to start writing again and it has been on repeat, turning over and over in my mind as I lay down to sleep at night.
In the face of learning who I have been created to be in Christ, I have had to face who I once was. The most raw and painful of these times: losing a soul sister over who I used to be and my past. And while that caused my heart to stand out in the rain, shivering and weeping, knocking on a heart that wouldn’t open, I have had to be brave in realizing that who I used to be was ugly but that it is not who I am anymore. I have had to be brave in the understanding that I am fully known and still fully loved to the One who crafted my days. Not despite my past but with my past. And when my flesh wants to rage and hate and scream out to the sky, I have to claim bravery in loving hard as the Spirit whispers into my heart and deep into my soul,
choose. choose to love hard.
And I know, love doesn’t come naturally to me and it may not come naturally to you. Bitterness lies deep, deep within me. Yet, Jesus tenderly reminds me that love is more than smiles and laughter. Love is full of sweat and tears. It is full of standing in the rain, knocking on hard-fast, shut doors with eternal perpetual hope. Love requires sacrifice and a willingness to put control into the Father’s hands. Love demands that I go outside of the walls I have built to protect myself and it means that I may get stung, hurt or broken.
And when pettiness and pain threaten to appear, there is something about that whisper that makes it easier to just love hard because I want to be a woman who gives Jesus glory. Jesus, the One who abounds in grace, can surely overflow my parched cup.
I have had to claim bravery in the light of my past because there is something about bringing shame into the light that hurts. Shame has to be dragged, kicking and screaming into the light and sometimes I step back, chest heaving, with fresh cuts and bruises from that struggle. My flesh fights because of my pride. Pride that keeps me from wanting to admit the undesirable and seemingly unredeemable aspects of me. Pride that keeps me wanting to keep up the perfect reputation. Pride that hates being misunderstood. Pride that wants to defend and to be heard. Pride that wants to resolve conflict simply because it can’t handle the thought of not being able to control how someone views it. Yet I have to be brave enough to throw it off. I have to be brave enough to give grace, despite reputation, despite wanting to cling to how I feel I have been wronged. When it hurts beyond all else, I have to listen to that still, small whisper from a God whose ear catches the faintest murmur from my heart, a God who prepares me for the path ahead and a God who comes after wind, earthquake and fire in a low whisper to remind me of His power, His tenderness and His ability to instill the bravery to give grace.
And let me tell you, the months of seeking and searching for bravery have not been in vain. Sometimes the Lord shows us our answered prayers in ways that cause us to fall on our faces in awe. This last weekend I shared my testimony at my campus ministry’s fall retreat. Before I stepped out onto the stage, my heart was beating more wildly than I have ever felt it beat before. I have never in my life been so terrified. And as I walked out from behind the curtain, I felt as though I was Peter, clambering over the side of the boat, stepping into churning waves with trembling hands. But as I stepped out onto the stage, I didn’t feel as though I was walking on water. I felt as though I was walking on the hands of Jesus himself. He carried me. He never left me. And as I started sharing my story, my heart’s racing slowed, everything became clear and I knew exactly what I needed to say. He stayed right beside me on that stage and in that moment, every second of suffering was worth it.
He made me brave.
Thank you, Zed for being the one to give me the key and start me on a path of pursing bravery in Jesus Christ.