I have a four-year-old daughter. Every thing in my world somehow finds its way back into the plot of a Disney movie.
Then I think Braveheart. And then Mel Gibson in his glory years. Then I digress. Then I think of people in uniform. All kinds of uniforms- who wake up each day and decide to be brave all over again. Then I think of my new friend Jessica, who just got back from India where she sources locally made artisan goods through her amazing business Noonday Collection, and she says these are the women who know a thing or two about being brave. Brave when there is no other option and life and death and babies depend on it.
And then there's that little four-year-old who will wake up soon with a green, tie-dyed shirt on that she made at Grandparent Camp. On it- the word Brave is written. Because when asked what gift God has given her, she said, "God made me brave." And when asked how she could use that gift, she replied, "When people are scared, I can hold their hand and be brave for them."
Did I mention she's four and I love being her momma? I do.
So I see the word brave and lots of images come to mind.
And the beautiful truth is, there are lots of ways to be brave. Brave comes in all shapes and sizes and for all different reasons. And lately, I have been so attuned to people's acts of bravery. Of course, all I want to do is run to them and hug them and say "YOU ARE BEING SO BRAVE and I AM SO PROUD OF YOU." If I could, I would spend the rest of my life giving hugs and stickers and cupcakes out.
Because being brave matters.
And I want to tell you about a friend of mine who has shocked me with her bravery.
She wrote me months ago on Facebook saying she wanted to apologize if she had ever treated me bad in high school. (She hadn't.) She said she remembered that I was a believer in Jesus. And that my family was. And that she had a long, crazy past, but had recently heard Jesus whisper to her and became a believer and needed help knowing what to do next.
We saw each other last weekend for the first time since our sophomore year in high school. She came to a conference with me that I was scheduled to lead worship for. She showed up alone. To see a girl she hadn't seen in well over a decade. To a huge church where she knew no one. To a Christian event not geared towards girls like her- who don't quite know the ropes. She showed up.
As Jennie Allen began to teach she asked us to turn in our bibles to Hebrews 12. Without blinking, my friend turned to me with that same model smile she's had our whole lives and said, "Can you find it for me. It will take me a loooong time." Fearless. Walking with no shame. Grown momma of two little girls, married, head held high, asking for help because she is unhindered.
Later that night there was a late night party for teenage and young adult girls. We did a talk back session, that made a sharp right turn and morphed into a deeply profound night of God's presence challenging us. It was definitely not what Jennie Allen and I planned. It just happened. After I prayed to end the evening, my friend, you know THE ONE WHO COULDN'T FIND HEBREWS, rushed to the front and said, "I am so sorry. I have never done this but my heart is racing a million miles a minute and I know I have to..."
She opened her mouth and beauty flowed out. She ended with, "Don't be me. Don't wait until I did. Jesus loves you now, as you are. He has everything you need."
No one stood around waiting to talk to Jennie Allen or I.
The girls rushed my friend though, and through tears said, Thank you. I'm suicidal too. I'm a wild child too. I'm lonely too.
Later that night she apologized. She said she had never done anything like that and had no idea what she even said. We were sitting around a table. Her. My husband. Another friend and her husband. She hadn't seen me in over a decade and the other three were strangers to her. But we talked about the Holy Spirit. How the Holy Spirit moves- often when we least expect it and want no part of it. And a good marker for the movement of that Spirit is us not having much of a re-collection of how we made it through or what we said. We sat around a table sharing Jesus and life and wisdom- old and new.
"Did I tell them I was a stripper? GOD- I hope I did not tell them I was a stripper. I mean it wasn't for long, but you know-"
And we all died laughing.
I am proud of her. She is shameless and fearless and all-in and searching and showing up and being brave. She inspires me to not be afraid. To follow God's voice. She reminds me all over again that God's voice is real. Real enough to stir the heart of a well-put-together girl who does not have to expose her deficiencies- because by all accounts she has everything a girl could dream of- but she is putting herself out there anyways, because she wants to know Jesus more. And she has a lot of catching up to do, she says. And she is ready. She is ready to grow. And fall in love. And find purpose and meaning and depth in her new found faith.
And she is all kinds of vulnerable about it. And being vulnerable? Well that's-
And being brave matters.
Brave comes in all shapes and sizes. Each shape and size is inspiring to me. Have you seen someone brave lately? Celebrate it. Share it. Appreciate it.
We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are, to see through plastic sham to living, breathing reality, and to break down our defenses of self-protection in order to be free to receive and give love. – Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water.