How to be brave
Have you ever felt the kind of fear that leaves you immobilized?
You know those moments - when you’re afraid and can’t muster the bravery to move into the places you find yourself drawn, because fear whispers louder than faith?
How I’ve Forgotten How to Be Brave
In this season, I am learning what it feels like to be stuck. To find myself mired in the fear that the enemy whispers into my ear more insistently than the truth I know in the deepest parts of my soul.
During the past month, I have believed (swallowed fully) the lie that my mistakes cannot be redeemed. That I might as well shut my mouth and close the lid on a life lived bravely. That I am not making a difference, and that I should stop trying. That there are other leaders, other mothers, other friends, other lives that can make a difference and that I’m probably doing more harm than good by even trying.
In the brokenness of crumbling sidewalks and the fearfulness of newly installed cameras on our house, I find myself clenching tightly the things I think I can control. Maybe we don’t really need to move somewhere new, I tell myself. Maybe building this community center and leading a nonprofit isn’t the best fit for my personality and gifting. Maybe safety should trump living out our purpose. Maybe I’ve gotten everything wrong. Maybe moving downtown into what everyone told us was a “dangerous” neighborhood, starting and leading a nonprofit, staying in a gentrifying neighborhood, then buying another (bigger) crumbling building in a far-less gentrified neighborhood - what if all of that was a mistake?
Walking alongside lives etched out on the margins of the city, scratched from the poverty of dollars and hope, has led me to doubt the wisdom of putting our hearts and our family in harm’s way.
This weekend, though, I was reminded that Jesus doesn’t mind our questions. That occasionally, He tucks them in his pocket for later, unbothered by our insistence on solutions or quick fixes of hope. Sometimes He asks us to the play the long game, to walk with people and on paths for the long haul.
When You Don’t Know How to Be Brave, Do These 3 Things
On a few days away with some (phenomenal) women nonprofit leaders, I was reminded of how I can move forward in courage, even though I’m still afraid. If you've ever been in a season of fear, where you're feeling stretched, and you've forgotten how to be brave, here are three simple things I'm relearning.
Dig into Community.
I am an introvert, and an enneagram 4. This means that my natural inclination when I am fearful or uncertain is to retreat within myself. To hide what I am afraid of while simultaneously thinking about it incessantly. Possibly, this is an unhealthy combination. Also, then my fear just keeps growing, lovingly nurtured by darkness and self-condemnation.
Instead, I am learning, we can find a group or people (even just one!) that we can confide in, pray with, cry alongside, or maybe even they can help you find ways to laugh (this, I highly recommend). So whether this is your spouse, your church family, an online community, or your neighbors, let someone in and stay together in the hard parts.
I am never opposed to losing yourself in some good fiction, but what I mean is to spend time in God’s word. Not sure where to start? Find a Bible reading plan, or ask a trusted friend for their suggestion. This weekend, a friend pointed me towards Job 39-41 and I was reminded when I needed it that I am not actually in control anyways.
Spend time listening, to your community, to the words on the page, in the silence. For me, I like to take a run (lest you’re confused, I cant run more than 2 miles so no pressure to be an “athlete” here) and leave my headphones at home. Something about pushing my legs and lungs to keep moving, even (especially) when I want to quit, reminds me that one foot in front of the other will eventually move you somewhere new.
3. Discern One Next Right Step
Emily Freeman’s podcast The Next Right Thing is one of my favorites. She uses her gentle voice to remind us that we can find just one step. It doesn’t have to be anything huge or earth-shattering. We dont even have to know our final destination. But what is one simple step you can take today to move yourself forward?
For me, it involves getting a favorite book to a beloved friend.
THIS Is How to Be Brave
Mostly, how to be brave involves putting one foot in front of the other. Finding the next right thing, and then actually doing it. One step at a time. Surrounded by community, and covered in prayer.