My brave may not look like your brave. In fact, it probably won’t.
We were driving along a winding road somewhere just north of Nashville when those words left my lips.
With four girls in the car, we were going back and forth, offering opinions and wisdom to one another, all revolving around having a significant other. (Or not.)
I offered a thought or two and then simply said, “It may not make sense, and I know there’s another side to it, but right now this feels hard. I have my hard and you have your hard, and they are both valid. Neither is more than or less than the other, they simply are.”
To which someone said “You need to tweet that.”
And thus, this blog post began.
About 18 months ago I was sitting in church on a regular Sunday morning when God straight up got my attention. I had been reading Acts for years at this point. Literally, years. I moved to college in the middle of my home church going through Acts, started attending a church in Birmingham that, conveniently, was also walking through Acts, and eventually ended up at my home church here. My first Sunday visiting he opened the Word and said, “Well, you know that we’re going to be walking through the book of Acts for a while here.”
I laughed out loud at God’s irony.
I don’t know if that’s something that should be admitted or not, but it’s the truth. He is so dang funny, because who managed to end up in three churches all walking through Acts? THIS GIRL. God had some things to teach me from Acts, apparently. But I digress.
Where were we? Acts. (Of course.)
I had heard the stories before, listened to the sermons on these chapters, when suddenly I found myself reading and re-reading Acts 27. The pastor kept preaching and life went on but I couldn’t make sense of the story.
Paul is a prisoner and is onboard a boat that has set sail for Rome. He warned the ship’s officers that the waves looked too dangerous to continue on to their next destination, but they continued anyway. On the fourteenth night of the storm, which is described as “blotting out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone,” the sailors tried to abandon ship. An angel of the Lord told Paul they would wreck but would all live, and so he told the men that they must all stay in order to make it to safety.
And then the part where God flipped the switch inside: The soldiers cut the ropes to the lifeboat.
On our last morning in Nashville, 17 of us sat in a large circle listening as Mary shared from Matthew 14. She was speaking about bravery, she was telling truth, and she encouraged us to get out of the boat. How else can we walk on water with Jesus?
It was good stuff. But inside I was replaying Acts 27 . Because while Mary’s brave looks like walking on water, mine looks like staying right where I am.
My brave is choosing to stay. My brave is standing still. My brave is sitting down, getting small, and holding on.
It hasn’t made sense, not even once, when I speak out loud that Birmingham was the harder choice. But it’s my truth. Packing up and moving somewhere totally new would have been the easy way out – for me. I wanted the adventure, the new-ness, and the big plans. They scared me, but they thrilled me even more. Choosing to stay in a place where I still know the major highways but I don’t know a single person with a life that looks like my in-between, staying in a place where my heart feels 7 miles down the road behind those Samford gates, but I work at a cute little white desk in an empty, silent apartment…
That is my hard.
And that is my brave.
Abandoning ship would have been easier. But they cut the ropes. They said yes to riding out the storm no matter the cost.
The ship wrecked.
It straight up wrecked and fell apart, pieces floating every which way, tossed about by the raging sea.
Had the ship stayed together, they would have run into the island. But it broke apart, and perhaps it felt like their only hope of survival broke with the broken pieces.
But they jumped into the sea, held onto the wooden planks, and the very boat that broke became their safety net, drifting and floating safely to shore.
My brave looks like staying in the boat until it either breaks or He calls to me from the water.
Whatever your hard is – getting out of the boat and walking, or staying still and trusting – your brave is your brave. It is big. It is important. It may not look like what was expected, it might not be exciting, and it may not make sense. But it is your brave.
I recently read a book titled Brave Enough that you may enjoy. Although it was not at all one of my favorites, it discusses getting over fears and choosing to live bold and free. The message is a great one, but the writing style was simply not for me. (I received a copy of Nicole Unice’s book to review for free, in exchange for my honest opinion.)