There is a misconception of brave these days. Let’s all be cute, darling warriors dressed in our heels and teased hair. We will talk about being brave and standing strong and valiantly fighting our battles; battles like abortion, and the fight for unity or battles inside and outside the church.
Brave can look like this. Brave can be worn on women in heels and great hair. I’ve been there and I love those brave days. But what happens when you are dog-tired and have lost the will to fight? What happens when everything comes crashing down? What happens when the church is the one scolding us? Where is God, then?
WHAT IS BRAVE, THEN?
This week looked nothing – absolutely NOTHING – like I wanted it to. You want to know how long I looked forward to turning thirty? Since I was twenty. I love birthdays. LOVE THEM. Not just mine, but birthdays, in general. I want to celebrate everyone’s birthday. Ask my husband, He is always looking at the credit card asking me what I bought at Target.
This is how this goes:
M: Whatcha get at Target?
W: A gift.
M: For who?
M: Wait, don’t tell me. My cousin’s baby. I mean, our neighbor three doors down. Er. Could it be a friend?
W: The lady at the check-out counter, it was her birthday, so I got her something.
M: I can’t. I am taking away the credit card. Or I am taking away Target. Whichever is harder and more effective.
Neither is, so they both still remain. Winning.
This week I wanted to celebrate, instead want to know how I spent my birthday? Awake at 3 am, driving around Liberty, Missouri with a baby that couldn’t be soothed. My husband and I had to go back and forth between who would watch her this week. All of a sudden, one of my greatest joys, became one of my biggest heartaches.
I know, you are thinking…it’s called parenthood. I get it. It is also called refinement.
In the midst of chiseling away at my parenting bone, the Lord also went to work in other places. This wasn’t a pruning job of one branch, friends, it was loads of them. I’m not quite sure what I have left to offer. Leaves? Twigs? Baby buds? I’ve got nothing (and I think that’s the point).
Later this week, we celebrated the lives of the rescued babies at Liberty Women’s Clinic and the evening was phenomenal — but like any good event planner — I know where all the details fell out. A girl’s heart could be wrecked when she realizes all her flaws. And when is abortion going to end anyway? Why is our world so completely upside down?
And so, there it all is. I’ve been bombarded and felt a bit like a failure and my gray hair is really starting to show (so is my cellulite, but that is an all-together different topic about emotional eating and it’s tricky idolatry).
(see the cellulite – it’s a real thing – and fortunately 450 others got to see it too. So glad I had killer shoes.)
My friend, knowing full well about my week, checked in on me. She is so much smarter and loads funnier than me and reminded me this:
“In metallurgy, (What? I told you she was smarter than me) refinement is the process of heating metal to extremely high temperatures in order to burn off the impurities. It is a hot process that leads to a beautiful, shiny product…when she finally writes her brilliant auto-biography, the refinement title will be, ‘That Was Hot As Hell, but Look How Shiny I Am Now.’”
I don’t know about you, but I am reading that book.
I understand that no one wants a pity party when we are in the middle of our deepest refinement. It’s not the point. But I’m here to say that sometimes the brave doesn’t look pretty. Brave isn’t always standing on the front lines. Brave is often fighting really hard for faith with a bucket of Kleenex, under your covers and clinging to a mustard seed. It is closing your eyes and seeing the open tomb and declaring over and over again,
I believe, I believe, I believe.
Brave is resting and knowing that God’s hand has thrown this mighty earth into motion and that same hand will remain eternally faithful to His children. Brave is quietly apologizing and whispering our grievances. It is crawling up in arms that you hurt and looking into eyes and saying, “I was wrong.” Brave is getting back into the Word when it just doesn’t all make sense.
Our bravest places might come from our darkest places, but doesn’t that make us WAY MORE BRAVE when we take the battlefield? These brave things keep us in the fire. They keep us in His hands, gripped in His love.
God unravels us, so that He can make room for Him. The unraveling can be painful as one strand pulls from the next, but it is necessary. Our wild God wants us to remain wildly attached to Him. My bravest place this week wasn’t on some stage fighting for life. It wasn’t teaching a group of women about God and His love. It certainly wasn’t flashy and it certainly wasn’t done well.
My bravest place this week was crawling back into my chair, opening up His Words, and listening to His voice all over again. So let us not be fooled, girls, by people’s newsfeeds and seemingly fantastic lives. Let us not think, I can’t be brave like that — I can’t fight the way she fights.
The greatest fight we have is the one fought in His arms. If you haven’t been there in awhile, it’s okay, He will wrap you up so quick, you will be drenched in love. If you are unraveled like me, would you inch by to His throne? I know it’s hard, I’m inching back with you. And as I sat there just the other day, want to know what flooded me? The unreal ways of how He turns our mourning into dancing because He actually meant it when He said, “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” And if you are there, and enveloped and feeling all kinds of brave, celebrate, darling girl. Celebrate, well.
I am beginning to believe that the unraveled state is one that is uncomfortable, but one that keeps me nearest to the Almighty. In that case, I will say, YES. Yes to the struggles, but more importantly, Yes to the Maker of my soul.
Make more room for you, King Jesus, as you continue to unravel me.