Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Being Brave

When I was twenty-two I moved to Nashville all by my lonesome for a job. (And if you ever want to hear a cautionary tale about first jobs out of college, let's have coffee sometime.) I did have one friend who moved to Nashville at the same time that I did, but he was a boy, so there's that. I'm sure you won't be surprised by the revelation that Nashville was kind of touch and go for a while there. A new job, a new city (and state), a new life. I'd done other somewhat brave things before this move, but this was probably the most bold of the things I'd tried so far. And yet, four years later, I had a life in Nashville that was insanely difficult to leave.

  But I did leave. I felt called to disciple young women full-time and so I went on staff with a ministry to college students and found myself tossed into a new set of people, a new list of challenges, a new life again at twenty-six. During my five years on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ I traveled a lot, I drove across the semi-barren width of Florida alone in a soft-top Jeep with no cell service to speak of, I helped run a conference for 1200 people, I lived alone in a city I had visited all of one time before moving, I raised all my own financial support, I dated a boy who lived in Sweden and then subsequently agreed to marry him when he proposed in a castle there in Uppsala. And then I married him four months later in my parents' front yard after having spent at least 85 percent of our dating/engagement apart.

I realize this isn't the most shocking list of exploits you've ever read and you've probably done something 500 times braver, but for this overly cautious, semi-neurotic girl, this list still kind of surprises me. And what also kind of surprises me when I read this list is that almost every brave decision was followed up by good things. Experiences and relationships and opportunities to grow and encounters with Jesus and in the words of every mommy blogger out there right now, ALL THE THINGS.

And yet, (one husband, five moves, and two babies later), as I inch closer and closer to turning thirty-seven, I'm discovering that I seem to have misplaced my bravery.

I just laid out some of my life experiences here for you because I have a bit of a situation. It's starting to feel like any amount of bravery I had in the past has rudely left the building. And I'm curious about this. I'm trying to pinpoint when exactly this happened and there seems to be a correlation to marriage and the subsequent having of babies. The fact is that I'm about to be in my late-thirties (gasp) and in true semi-mid-life-crisis form (if that's even a thing), I am beginning to size up my life. What have I accomplished? Am I where I thought I'd be at this point? Am I who I thought I'd be at this point? Have I had this hairstyle too long? And about a hundred more questions along those lines.

As I've been pondering the great, deep questions of life (i.e. Will I ever fit into that dress again?), I can't help but notice that I've turned into something of a neurotic, self-protective person. Just the thought of driving more than twenty minutes away without good cellphone coverage makes my chest tighten up. The possibility of Matt's job location changing at some point and having to start over again in a new town makes me break out in hives. The ever-constant fears of the plethora of random things that could happen to my kiddos at any given point in their lives is enough to push me over the edge if I let them.

But, in addition to those kind of "what if that happens?" fears, there's also the fear of starting anything new.

I've always, always wanted to write a book. The kind of dreamy, wordsmithy, magical story that transcends time and space continuums. (You're afraid of that book right now, aren't you.) Anway, I'm pretty sure the Christian romance "novel" I wrote in ninth grade isn't in any danger of being published anytime soon. (But, please feel free to ask for a copy because it is awesome). I'm also absolutely sold on the idea of adoption, but can't seem to get my head out of the sand to start taking steps in that direction. I desperately want to join in the fight for the lives of babes who are unwanted and whose mamas are wondering if the best thing is just to end their pregnancies, but frankly, I think I'm scared of what I'll encounter in the midst of that whole tornado of opinions and emotions and politics.

I'm wondering where the shift was where I went from being brave to choosing security over adventure and safety over stepping out of the boat.

And yet, lately, I'm attempting to take back some ground and I've been taking some proverbial baby steps. I typed out two chapters of a book that maybe no one but me and Jesus will ever read. I'm reaching out to some local women who are in the early stages of beginning a pregnancy resource center in our town to see what I could possibly do to help them in that huge endeavor. And lastly, I started reading Russell Moore's book Adopted for Life, which will most likely have me adopting thirteen children by the last chapter. (Maybe don't mention this to Matt if you see him because he's slightly unaware of the whole thirteen children thing.)

I'm heart-hoping that this is the beginning of something and that maybe I'll stop being so hesitant to do the things that make me scared.

It just might be that thirty-seven can be less about aching knees and new gray hairs and more about being brave. And, if memory serves, brave decisions are usually followed up by good things.

"Courage, dear heart." ~C.S. Lewis


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