Brave…there are movies about it, songs about it, quotes about it. But what does brave really look like?
Merriam-Webster defines brave as: having or showing courage. Ok. I think we can all agree that those who serve in our armed forces are brave. They exhibit courage in the way they leave their families for an unknown period of time, go across the world, and stand in the front lines, all in the name of freedom. Yes, yes…those are very courageous individuals.
I would say the same for those who serve in the organization Doctors without Borders and other such organizations. They go to some of the most remote locations in the world, face diseases and death, and most of them do it without even flinching.
So, what about those in our daily lives?
What about the woman who married the man of her dreams…the one who points her to live more like her Savior…the one who keeps her laughing along the way…and they can’t have biological children of their own? They’ve tried everything in their power, and yet it’s just not happening. So, they go an alternate route. See, they both love children and are amazing people…so they foster…and the Lord sees fit to allow them to adopt one of their foster children. Then, through events that can only be described as miraculous, they end up with two more children that become theirs. This woman, who thought she would never be a mom, now celebrates life with 3 boys (not including her husband – cause we all know – or at least I’ve been told – that, as amazing as they can be, they are still boys at heart, no matter how many years they’ve been alive.)
She’s brave…she waited and trusted in the Lord and now they are seeing the fruits of many years of prayer and faithfulness in His word.
Or what about the woman who married the man she went back to at the end of every. single. relationship. She finally decides that yes, indeed, he is the one. The ‘catch’? They both have sons from previous relationships. And step-parenting is never easy. As someone recently told me, there is no manual for this. But she puts on her brave face every day and is the best step-mother she can be to her husbands son. Which is no easy feat, when you consider the boy’s mother…but that’s a different story for a different day.
She’s brave…she puts one foot in front of the other day after day after day, in the hopes of making a positive difference in the lives of all those around her.
There’s the woman who is pregnant with her second child and decides to give her life to Jesus. She is baptized – pregnant. WOW! Now yes, we all talk a good talk about all sin being equal and such, but there it was…right in the faces of those in the pews watching her being baptized. Not as easy to hide on a Sunday morning as say, gossiping, now is it? This same woman approaches each day with a smile on her face, despite recently experiencing what can only be described as a debilitating encounter with depression.
She’s brave…she faces her days and her ‘haters’ knowing God is on her side…and that with Him in her corner, there’s nothing she can’t face.
And then there’s one of my personal favorites. The woman who has faced addiction head on and has. not. backed. down. She was in a position to be locked away – either in rehab or a jail cell of her own making – and she made some very courageous decisions to change her life for the better. And she has done an absolutely amazing job. She is one of the best mothers I know, and she shows up every. single. day. for her husband and her kids. Where she used to just show up physically – and sometimes, even that was questionable – now she shows up emotionally, mentally, and physically.
She’s brave…she could have very easily taken the same path she had in the past, made the same decisions she always had, followed in the paths of family members before her…but she didn’t. She grabbed addiction by the horns and said, YOU. WILL. NOT. OWN. ME. ANY. LONGER. She reclaimed her life.
Then there’s the woman who grew up without her dad or a father figure in her life. She experienced the proverbial, ‘looking for love in all the wrong places’ cliche. She made some bad choices. She hurt some people – some very badly. She didn’t honor her marriage or her God. And then Jesus grabbed ahold of her. And she wrestled with the old and the new. And she got pregnant. And when she told the father, he said he would stand by her no matter what she chose. As if there were any real choice to make…so she chose life and she had that baby. Oh, and that man who promised to stand by her side? Yeah, he’s long gone. He makes an appearance every few years. Rocks the boat, hurts his daughter, then leaves again. She still wrestled with the old and the new. And she got pregnant again. By someone different. And she chose life – again. See, even though she wrestled with the old and the new, she knew, to her very core, that the Lord was with her and He would guide and protect her…she only needed to surrender to Him – surrender her life, her will, her dreams. Because He will make them greater than you could ever imagine.
See, when she was young, she moved around a lot. And so, when the first pregnancy was revealed to her, she knew, down in the very core of who she was, that she wanted to have a home of her own…so her kids wouldn’t have to move around as she did. And yeah, along the way, she tried to birth an Ishmael once, or maybe even twice…but the Lord wouldn’t have it. And in March of 2012, the Lord fulfilled His promises. He made that deep-seated dream a reality. He put her and her two kids in a home that, she’s still amazed by every. single. day.
Oh, and about her dad who wasn’t there for her? Yeah, talk about a story for God’s glory! They have reconciled and now he is the best grandpa her kids could ask for. So, don’t tell me that God can’t redeem broken relationships. Don’t tell me that He doesn’t have an ultimate plan. Because if any one thing had changed about the circumstances from her past, they might not have a relationship now, and God wouldn’t have gotten the glory!
Brave? Uh yeah…she’s brave…but it’s funny, because I wouldn’t have thought of myself as brave before now.
And then there’s my favorite. Probably because it has so much meaning to me and is so personal. A few decades ago, there was a 15 year old girl, at prom for the first time. She and her date go a little far physically…maybe he pushed her a little…maybe it was completely consensual…maybe she pushed him. Who really knows, and does it really matter? No. Because from that one night, a life was conceived. And this 15 year old girl, having no idea what was in store for her, chose life for her child amid all of the voices in her own life. There were voices telling her to choose life…there were voices telling her it would be too hard…too much…too – whatever. But that brave young girl gave birth to another brave young girl. And life was never the same. For the mom or for the daughter. See, that’s my mom’s story. And I know from experience, that there is no training manual for this thing called motherhood. There’s only your gut instincts and the Lord’s gentle guidance to rely on. And there’s a big difference in doing it at 28 for the first time and doing it at 16 for the first time. See, who is really prepared for the responsibility of a child at 16? It’s a child having a child…literally.
Brave? To me, this woman, my mother, is the epitome of brave. She was then, she is now, and I’m pretty sure she will forever be. She is the rock I rely on here on Earth. I’m not sure where I would be without her. See, her own parents are aging and she’s right there, in the midst of it all, helping them, being there for them, attending doctor appointments and procedures and just doing what she does. And then there are her kids – who still depend on her to talk to, to be there, to cheer on their own kids in whatever activities they are involved in. And she does all of this with grace. She always has a smile for everyone she meets, no matter what may be going on inside her. And will we ever really know what’s going on inside her?
Each of these stories I’ve shared today are unique. They are all true. They are all personal to me…some more than others. But in each of these stories, we find that people, women in particular, are brave in their own ways.
I’ve seen a quote before that says something to the effect of, “Sometimes courage isn’t the loud roar, it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I’ll try again tomorrow.'” And that is never more true than in the stories of these women.
And as the quote says, “It’s not that I’m that brave, but that God is that big.” – Susie Eller
Because He is…BIG.