Word-of-the-year recap time! If there’s eight things I can be counted on to deliver, this is one of them.
The year of our Lord Two Thousand and Twenty Two was the year of leaning into a characteristic that others had been calling out in me, but I was too – ironically – afraid to believe. What started as an admonition from a miniBFF, telling me that I was so brave because the Lord was with me, became a theme that needed to be explored in my life.
You see, when you walk with people who walk with Jesus, you listen to them when they tell you who you are.
So I did.
I wrote on my whiteboard in my bedroom, “How can I lean into this quality that everyone keeps speaking over me?”
At the beginning of 2022, even after months of those that love me telling me I was brave and courageous, I didn’t believe it. December 2021/January 2022 had be believing I was weak. That I needed to concede certain convictions if I ever wanted to be fully accepted and loved. That I wasn’t brave or courageous, but rather foolish for believing that what God says about Himself, about me, and about the way He has created us to flourish was outdated and only holding me back.
Again I say – when you walk with people who walk with Jesus, you listen to them when they tell you who you are.
Within the first 2 months of the year I had the opportunity to believe I am who they say I am.
I had the chance to know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the Lord my God was with me – that I could be strong and courageous and brave because He was/is nearer than my next breath.
My misconception in being brave is that it had to do with major displays of facing your biggest fears and conquering dragons while riding a lion.
But that’s just not true. I don’t think that’s the kind of brave that I am.
Sure, my bravery did take on a big act – kinda like opening the door for the dragon to leave after it’s breathed fire in my face for three hours. And never letting the dragon back in.
But more than that, I discovered that my kind of brave is a lot smaller and way quieter.
My bravery shows up in radical honesty – telling the truth the best way I know how.
It shows up in asking for what I need from those I’m in relationship with – hopefully with humility and a mutually beneficial point of connection.
It shows up in tears while loved ones hold me as I fall apart.
It shows up in telling a friend that you’re not doing well and you’d just like to come sit with them so you don’t have to be alone.
It shows up in planting a garden and believing that the work you put in will literally (and often spiritually) bear fruit.
It shows up in a sweaty workout room – a place you swore you would never be – yet here you are, three years later, freaking crushing it.
It shows up in believing someone when they say, “you’re the bravest person I know,” even when you don’t feel it, because you both know that the Lord our God is with us wherever we go.
I’m not brave because I slay dragons, or wrestle bears*, or take down the patriarchy every day.
I’m brave because I know what it means to be full of fear and even there know/believe/feel that Holy Spirit is nearer than my next breath. That He never leaves me or forsakes me. And that He has given me an army of people to remind me of who I am and that I can trust the next step in front of me.
So here’s to 2023 and taking bravery with us.
*I have wrestled a savage almost-4 year old and survived, so that definitely counts for something.