If You Feel Like You Weren't Meant to Be Brave

 
I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been born in God’s thought and then made by God is the dearest, grandest, and most precious thing in all thinking.
— C.S. Lewis

We all want to be brave- to live a life so big and courageous that it inspires others to live beyond themselves for something greater. I can't tell you how many "Brave" themed Conferences I've attended, 5, 10, 15 Step Guides I've worked through, and books I've read cover to cover just trying to grasp a piece of the Brave pie for myself. But I usually finish feeling more frustrated, depressed and, well, exhausted than before. Am I the only one? I mean these women in the bible were CRAZY BRAVE! I don't know about you, but some of these chicks used to really intimidate me; women like ESTHER- storming the king's palace to save her nation, RUTH- leaving everything she knew behind her, MARY- giving birth to the Savior of the world, and let's please not forget JAEL (I mean did she have to kill that man with a tent peg?) They all did incredible things for the Kingdom of God but what we fail to realize is that we were created the same way.

We want so badly to be brave and to live a courageous life but we don't know how to get there. After all, the way this world paints a picture of bravery sets the bar so high that we know we'll never achieve anything quite like that. But what if the definition was different than what we thought? What if bravery wasn't something to be grasped, but realized? 

This world will try to tell you what being brave looks like, which usually leads us to frustration and exhaustion, never able to reach that goal that we so desperately want. But the truth is, you are God's courageous and brave daughter who the enemy is trying very hard to keep in the dark. The enemy doesn't want you struttin' your stuff around in confidence and courage! He wants you stumbling around, trying to find your way and forever striving for something you already have. Those things you struggle with? Those are NOT who you are. Your insecurity- that's NOT who you are. Your fear- that's NOT who you are. Your sin that you can't seem to break- that's NOT who you are.


When we begin to see ourselves not as victims trying to grasp victory, but rather as God's Royal daughters who have been equipped for every good work, then we won't own our struggles but will find the strength that lies within to live out the brave and courageous destinies that were ours alone to fulfill. 


You don't attack something you aren't threatened by, and the enemy of our souls would love nothing more than to convince you that there really isn't anything special about you, certainly not anything powerful or brave. But... when you do look inside to see all of the glorious greatness that resides within you, you will begin to walk in a bravery and courage that this world has yet to see.

Basically my entire life I've struggled with feelings of fear and insecurity. A part of me thought that once I got married and said "I do," then poof.. all of my insecurity would disappear into the great abyss of true love. Well, that didn't really happen.. at all. In fact it got worse! You see when you face your fears, you become fearless. So the enemy doesn't want you to face those emotions, he wants you to suppress them, attach yourself to them, and ultimately, find your identity in them. And that's exactly what I did. It's extremely hard to gain freedom from something when you see it as your identity. After all, you can't exactly break free from yourself now can you? 

But everything changed for me when I had a mini breakdown moment on a drive home passing by Garden of the God's park in Colorado Springs (I know, I'm blessed!) I was frustrated because I felt like I was doing so good with this whole insecurity thing and then WHAM! I would get insecure about something small and all those old emotions would rush back and I felt like all my progress was for nothing. Was this it? I mean was this the life that I'm supposed to look forward to? I couldn't understand why things weren't changing. But then God spoke this to me: 

"You are not an insecure little girl who is just trying to act brave, but rather you are my brave and courageous daughter who the enemy is trying to trick into acting insecure." 

Amazing. In that moment, I completely understood what He meant. This whole time I hadn't been viewing my actions as mistakes, I was viewing myself as a mistake. My insecurity became my identity, which in turn made any kind of forward progress impossible. 

It was as if I was standing at the bottom of this hill looking up. At the top of the hill was everything God had promised me, who He created me to be and the destiny I was supposed to fulfill. Then I would spend all of my time trying to climb up this hill trying to get to what God said about me, while life was throwing sucker punches and dirt balls my way, trying to knock me down and get me off course. But this was so very wrong. 

Instead, God was beginning to show me that I was already at the top of that hill with Him, looking down on life and all of it's murky circumstances. I was already brave, courageous, humble, patient, kind, driven, full of destiny, etc.. This was who I am. I could stand at the top of that hill and defend what was mine rather than striving for it. And those life punches? Well with one kick of my heal they would tumble down to the bottom of that hill where they belonged. This was what my Father was showing me, and I believe that He's wanting to show it to you too. 


You are not an insecure woman who is just trying to act brave, but rather you are a BRAVE and COURAGEOUS daughter of God who the enemy is trying to trick into ACTING insecure.


When you realize all of the power that resides on the inside of you, you will begin to see your challenges and struggles in a new way - not as a victim who is just trying to grasp victory.. maybe.. someday.. in the future. But, you will see yourself as His Royal Daughter, Poised for Purpose, Fashioned for Splendor, and Designed for Destiny. 

Together, let's write these chapters of our stories with bravery, 
Jess


Want to learn more about how you were created to be brave?

Check out the Becoming Brave Online Bible Study and learn to awaken the unique ways you were designed to bring courage to this world. 

To the Wife Who Burnt Dinner

How to move on when we feel like we've failed

It was almost 7 o'clock and dinner was not ready. I confess, I had often dreamed of being the hostess with the clean apron, manicured nails, and delicious home-cooked meals that all came out of my oven at the exact same time. As far reaching as this dream was, I quickly realized that after only a few months of being married, our little apartment was apparently the place to be and my tiny kitchen would be producing not so much "perfect" meals, but certainly enough to sustain even the hungriest of twenty-somethings. 

As I went about the final preparations for taco night (yes, one of the absolute easiest meals to make) I laid out twelve hard taco shells on a baking sheet and put them in the oven to warm up. Now, for some reason I had it in my tired mind that broil is what you used when you just wanted to heat something up and not cook it. All of a sudden, we start to smell smoke and sure enough, we open the oven door to unveil my shame in the form of twelve flames- one for each taco shell. 

But wait, there's more. 

The smoke was INSANE so we all start opening windows. I open up the sliding door but leave the screen shut so our cat doesn't get out. My brave husband valiantly grabs the pan and makes a run for it outside, only to be greeted by that screen door I shut and the piping hot pan kisses him right in the stomach. He calls it his battle scar... 

I didn't realize braving my cooking was like going to war! 

Honestly, I was mortified. Here I was a new wife, new to cooking for 2 people let alone 8, and I failed at what should have been one of the easiest dishes known to mankind. I went to bed that night feeling more defeated than I knew I should. Why was this such a big deal to me? It's not like anyone was hurt- or hurt too badly.. The house didn't burn down, everyone ate and went home happy, smelling just a tad bit of smoke. So why did this taco shell incident attach itself to me the way it did? 

Sometimes as women, and maybe you men too, we attach certain "roles" to ourselves and make them our identity. As a new wife, I had attached things like "great cook," and "good house-keeper" to who I was, so that when I messed up in one of those, it felt like an attack on me as a person. 

Why do we do this to ourselves? I think sometimes we just want to feel important, valuable, and irreplaceable. In a society that says "there's nothing really special about being a woman, anyone can do it," we're pretty desperate to shout back, "YOU DON'T KNOW ME!!!!" I don't know what girl hasn't pictured the day she was going to get married and also pictured being the perfect wife. I mean, we know we're not perfect but... I expect that from myself. And consequently, we start to assume that other people expect that from us. WHEN THEY DON'T! 

This journey of life is exactly that, a journey and no one get's to start off life, a marriage, parenting, a career, school, or anything else by being the best. 

One of my favorite songs for times like these (or let's be honest, any day!) is "Second Chance" by Rend Collective and in the very first line, they remind me of everything I need in times like these: 

My future hangs on this,
You make preciousness from dust.
Please don’t stop creating me.
— Rend Collective, Second Chance

My future isn't dependent on what I can achieve or accomplish or create on my own, but rather it's based on His ability to do what he does best: making preciousness from dust. Bringing beauty out of ashes. Creating memories from my mistakes. It's not in my ability but in his goodness that I even have a future, and a future that's filled with goodness and hope (Jer. 29:11). 

When we have our less than perfect moments, let's remember that our perfect God is working ALL things together for OUR good, that our mistakes (and our accomplishments) do not determine who we are and where we stand in his eyes, and that we're not perfect, but he will never be done creating us. 

So go forward with confidence, even if you have a little leftover smoke still on you and for goodness sake please do NOT put your taco shells on broil ;) 

xxo, 
Jess

Hiding Places

‘I shall take the heart,’ returned the Tin Woodman; ‘for brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world.’
— L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Hiding your heart can be a very lonely thing. Whether from hurt, unforgiveness, anger, or comparison, we all reach that place in our lives where we begin to tuck away our hearts, our emotions, and our dreams, revealing only what we believe others want to see. We lock our hearts in the coffin of our selfishness and believe that we're truly protecting it from any future hurt or pain. We tie the key around our neck and we tell ourselves, well, things wouldn't have worked out anyways. Ah... but what if they did? Could we perhaps not be so much afraid of the possible failures in our future as much as we are our own potential? 

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us... And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
— Nelson Mandela

The world desperately needs what you have to offer. You are the only one that represents the heart of God the way you do and you cannot let fear or comfortability keep you from discovering the potential that lies within you. There are dreams and desires that have laid dormant for months, years, even decades and your heart will never let you forget about them. We can choose to cut our hearts off, secluding them to harden within us, or we can embrace them and in doing so, we embrace who we truly are. 

Opening yourself up to your potential also means opening yourself up to getting hurt and possibly even failing a few times along the way. But the journey is where we live and where we also experience true adventure, beauty, friendship, and love. It's not the ending we're in charge of, but every chapter that leads up to it. So when it comes down to the choice between fear and our hearts, I think we should all have the same decision, "I'll take the heart please." 

The Courage to Be Seen

The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.
— Neil Gaiman

One of the most challenging things that I have ever had to face, that we all eventually have to face, is vulnerability... my vulnerability. Locked behind bars of shame, hinging on fear, I've learned to hide this vulnerable piece of my heart out of sight, up in the tallest tower, where no one would consider the quest for a daring rescue worth all the trouble. But there is quite a large problem with this method of survival; over time, it becomes harder and harder to break down the fortress that guards your soul from the rest of the world. And this world desperately needs your soul fully alive and able to offer what only it can bring to the table. 

God Himself is a mysterious God, Who takes great delight in giving us a life full of beauty, love, adventure, daring quests, and of course, mystery. Each of us holds within us a piece of that mystery. But when we hide behind our fears, insecurities, and pride, we are selfishly diminishing the mystery within us. What's inside you is greater than what you feel and it should be deemed more important. 

As C.S. Lewis puts it, "There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind." And I say it's time to leave behind the worry, fear, and insecurity and embrace the uncertain future, for only there can we experience true freedom. Fear doesn't change based on circumstances or emotions, but on the determination of the heart. And when we decide that we will not live through fear, then fear itself becomes obsolete, meaningless. But the decision must come first.

Sure people will see the flaws, but they will also see what God has gifted only you to reveal. Being brave isn't an emotion, but rather a decision in the midst of terrifying emotions. And being brave is exactly who we were created to be. 

Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; He won’t leave you
— Deuteronomy 31:6 The Message