Becoming Brave

I used to think I was meant for something big. A noble and fierce journey for the good of others. But the journey has started in a place I did not expect.

Me.

It has lasted years. If you watched me pour cereal for my kids in the morning, or wrestle out my faith on the word-mat, I doubt a brave journey would be how you would describe my days.

Dan Allender says:

“To the degree we fail to care for our past, we are bound to repeat it in some form. Caring for our past includes coming closer and closer to the truth of what happened and how those moments shaped our being in the world. Caring will also involve deepening our grief for what we have suffered and how we have harmed others. Greater capacity to grieve opens our hearts to the comfort of God in the present. The more we receive from God what our heart is most meant to receive, the freer we become to pursue the dreams that give birth to our future. The deeper the grief and comfort, the better prepared we will be for the uncertainty of the future.”

He articulates something I learned long ago from my own life. I saw it happen.

Those worn suitcases of issues I desired to leave in my past? I kept hauling them everywhere I went.

In fits and starts, I have read books to teach me. I have prayed. I have journaled. I’ve been in counseling. I’ve talked with friends. I’ve left people I love. People I love have left me. I’ve stayed and I’ve run.

It has thus far been my life’s greatest work.  

And truly, sometimes it seems overblown. Like a horrid form of navel-gazing and self-importance. Some days, I just want to say, “Who the hell cares about my internal life?”

But if I stand really still and look around me, this is what I see.

I have been crafting a life. I ride like a girl-knight with her hair stuck up inside her helmet, to release prisoners.

Even if the prisoners live in her skin.

And Jesus could not forge my life without me. Not for a lack of power, of course. But he is a dignity-giving God who adores us each so much he wants real love, not robotic obligation.

I thought I was going to go rescue sex-trafficked children in Thailand or the along the I-5 corridor. I imagine myself brave enough to face machine-gun holding pimps. Maybe I am brave, or just naive. But instead, we rescued the little girl who lives in me. We are giving her back her body that was claimed by trauma.

I thought we were going to free sexually abused women from their chains of shame in a ground-breaking non-profit organization or world-renown counseling office. But instead, we sidled up to the woman I was, and broke shame off her, like handcuffs off a prisoner of war.

I thought I was going to live bravely by speaking publicly so that women would hear my words and find healing. Or maybe by writing words so profound that healing poured through them like life-water for the thirsty. But I am time and again asked to live bravely by simply staying present to my pain when I would like nothing more than to flee as far as my trail runners could take me.

I thought the journey to become brave was going to be part of saving the world.

But it was simply about saving me.

One life, reclaimed, recovered, re-purposed, and new is like a warm wind, touching everyone it passes. The wind calls out, “Breathe in deep love, smell the scent of goodness. Feel the tender Presence.” I can only hope the wind of my life touches everyone I know, so they suck in quickly, finding they have inhaled Love.

by jill dyer

jill dyer