I never really thought of myself as brave. To me, brave meant being daring–jumping out of planes, enjoying the stomach churning fright of a rollercoaster, bungee jumping…If you can’t sense the theme yet, I’m really afraid of heights. How afraid, you ask? Let’s just say I don’t even like climbing ladders.
Brave were the people who’d fearlessly run in the direction of their dreams. Brave were the confident people. Brave were the people who with no notice, were able to stand in front of a crowd and speak. I was just ordinary. Brave was definitely not me.
I didn’t consider myself to be a coward, but I just didn’t see myself as brave. Brave people had themselves figured out. They had their lives figured out. I really wanted to be like that, but there were a ton of insecurities standing in the way. The funny thing about insecurity is that it seeps into the way you portray yourself. My insecurity stemming from feelings of inadequacy made me self-conscious. So to combat the self-consciousness, I did what I could to avoid being “seen”. For me, that meant putting up a wall: a well-decorated facade that was just thick enough to keep others right where I wanted them–on the outside, unable to see all the things about me that I felt were so inadequate.
I was pretty good at it for a while, but at the heart of it, “facade” is just a fancy way of saying something’s inauthentic. And, guess what? Inauthenticity is exhausting. I wanted so much to live my ideal I-have-it-all-together-life, but what I didn’t realize was that it was coming at the expense of being who God actually made me to be.
I remember having a particularly rough time one day, I don’t even remember what it was about, but I remember I was being really hard on myself. Sometimes our instinct when we are feeling vulnerable and insecure is to be hard on ourselves, isn’t it? I remember in that moment God speaking to my heart these words that literally stopped me in my tracks and honestly changed my life, he said, You’re just a girl.
Hear me out…He wasn’t saying that I was just a girl in some backhanded, dismissive way hinting that I was inadequate, unqualified or unworthy. He was telling me that the opposite was true. He was saying, you’re just a girl…you don’t need to be Superwoman. You don’t need to have it all figured out; you don’t need to have all your ducks in a row at all times. You’re just a girl. You don’t need to be perfect–you can stop trying to be. You’re adequate just as you are. It was a defining moment for me because not only was it freeing in the way that only God’s truth can be, but it also set me on the path to that brave life that I always wanted.
You see, I came to understand, not only on that day, but many days since, that being brave is less of an outward thing and more of an inward decision. Being brave, for me, became about giving myself the grace to be transparent and being ok with people seeing what is on the inside of me. It meant knowing that I am fearfully and wonderfully and purposefully made. That God invested in the world when he made me (and when he made YOU). Being brave meant being ok with being vulnerable and even embracing my vulnerability because, after all, I’m just a girl!
Empowered by that truth, I decided to take up arms against my insecurities and areas of non-braveness by flexing my “brave” muscle and I’d do that by embracing everything that God made me to be. I’d do it by embracing all the different parts of me: the gifts he’s given me, my weird personality quirks (I’ve got a quite a few, ha!), my strengths, my weaknesses–all of it. I wasn’t going to run and I wasn’t going to hide, instead, I was going to set my life to do the things that I was made for.
It’s a journey that I’m on and its still unfolding before me. I’m learning new ways to be brave every day. I’m fighting against the urge to retreat and let old insecurities intimidate me. I don’t always win, but I’m committed to the fight. Why? Because I know there’s so much at stake and I know there’s so much on the other side of my brave.
There’s a saying that goes something like: Do it scared. If you’re not scared, you can’t be brave. I love this because it means to be brave is to overcome something. Brave is accepting a challenge. Brave looks like saying yes even when saying no may be more comfortable or more “safe”. Brave looks like fighting to love someone who’s difficult to love. Brave is not backing down when things don’t go as planned. Brave is being willing to be flexible enough to go on the adventure with God that isn’t always what we planned for ourselves. Its accepting that there isn’t always an itinerary with dates and times and details for your life-story, and it’s learning to be ok with that! It means accepting that something may be difficult to do, but doing it anyway.
As I’m continuing to learn how to embrace brave, I’ve decided that one way I’m going to do it is by saying “yes.” I’m saying yes to the things that scare me and intimidate me–particularly to the things that are going to grow me and are a part of what God is wanting to do in my life. NO, you won’t find me bungee jumping or sky diving any time in my future–I do not believe that is God’s plan for my life, ha! However, I will embrace and exercise brave by stepping out of my comfort zone and by using my unique gifts, my awkward personality, and my God-given passions in life. I know there is no way I could ever do this on my own. I also know that I have and will fail many times, but guess what? Brave is also getting up after we fall. Brave is dusting ourselves off when we trip over our own feet. Most importantly, though, I know that God is the one who’s making me brave because he’s the one who’s called me to this life he’s set before me. He’s called you to yours too! Brave is knowing when to stop striving and learning to lean into the momentum of God’s grace.
Not long ago, I was talking to a friend about some leadership goals that we had for a group of women we were leading. I shared with her a few passages that I think are particularly encouraging for the season we were heading into:
“Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives.” Galatians 5:25MSG
I love that we not only choose this life of the Spirit, but that we get to live out the implications of it in every detail of our lives. In other words, this isn’t just a notion or a lofty idea, but rather we get to live this out authentically and empowered by God. Working out the implications of our brave, working our “yes”, working our conviction and commitment to being who God’s called us to be into every detail of our lives. How can we do it? I think that’s something we can learn from the process of sowing and reaping.
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 says: “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided (CHOSEN) in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
In this context, we usually look at this when talking about our financial giving, but I believe the principle holds true across all areas of our lives. If we reap bountifully what we sow bountifully and reap sparingly what we sow sparingly, then I think we should be asking ourselves: What have I decided (chosen) in my heart to give (sow)? And how have I been sowing it? Everything I’ve been given has been given to me for the sole purpose of giving it back. Whatever God puts in me has to come through me and he doesn’t want me to sow it sparingly! He knows that he’s placed great things in all of us, beautiful things, unique things, but we need to be brave enough to sow it bountifully–not allowing insecurities or fear to hold us back from giving it all.
It’s going to look different for all of us. My brave won’t look like yours. It doesn’t have to and it shouldn’t! We all have our own facades to tear down and our own insecurities to overcome. But, we also get to sow our brave (our gifts, our talents, our creativity, our yeses, our dreams, our lives, our finances, our surrender) bountifully and cheerfully knowing that our brave makes room for things to grow and makes room for others. We can bountifully sow our brave because we’re promised a harvest that’s just as and even more bountiful.
So friends, what does brave look like for you? How can you flex your brave? How can you sow it bountifully? Can I encourage you today that you don’t have to have it all figured out, you don’t have to try to measure up to any ideal or standard, you don’t have to have all your ducks in a row–after all, you’re just a girl, and there was a girl, around two thousand years ago, who’s brave “yes“ brought about the biggest blessing our world has ever and will ever see. Let’s choose this year to find out just what’s on the other side of our brave.