Everyone is “brave” these days. You see and hear that word everywhere. It is attached to a lot of things. Maybe this Brene’ Brown stuff is really catching on and we have more people than ever believing that vulnerability is the birthplace of the good stuff which is why they are being brave with everything. Maybe. Maybe this word will become as overused as “extreme” was in the 1990s and “authentic” in the 2000s. And that overuse will eliminate the power and truth of this word brave. I hope not.
I define bravery as your decisions to actually trust God. That is full of vulnerability because with God there is not the guarantee of the controlled outcome you want. It is much easier–and we think much better–to control our outcomes by doing the good things, perfecting ourselves with our own efforts. We do this to protect our hearts from the things in life that scare us the most. Yes, we trust God–but we only trust a safe God whom we can define. Sometimes God is undefinable. Sometimes God seems uncaring about my life. Instead of living in the holy tension of God being undefinable, we decide God is not real and abandon our faith. Or we decide to keep our faith safe. Another decision we get to make to control the outcome.
My “supposed to’s” in my life have smashed my heart. I was “supposed to” marry that one. In hindsight, I’m so glad I didn’t marry that one and did marry John. But what I thought was the abandoning of God during that season defines me still. I was “supposed to” have a larger ministry platform. Maybe I do. Maybe my “supposed to” is far from the path God has set out for me because I’ve stayed on it with all of my brave soul and deeply-opinionated beliefs since 1981. Then there is what defines me the most. The boys that we raised were “supposed to” be saved from hell, overcome their birth family patterns, graduate high school, find a successful career path, marry good women, and give me adorable grandchildren who will grow up knowing from day one that they are loved, wanted, secure, safe, and know about Jesus. That first part and last part I am living in. I have six adorable grandchildren who know they are loved, wanted, secure, safe, and hear about Jesus. But everything else in the middle? Two of them weren’t “supposed to” end up in prison. Two of them weren’t “supposed to” struggle with their sin patterns for as long as they’ve had to. And nothing can smash a mother’s heart more than these sinful struggles. Especially when we are on 25+ years of struggle.
What about your situation? When you believed God should be faithful to you. There is a “supposed to” in that cry like you and God made a deal. Did that deal really happen? Who made that deal?
This I know. God’s faithfulness to you and me is in every cycle of our lives. Whether loud or silent.
So if you are suffering according to God’s will, keep on doing what is right, and trust yourself to the God who made you, for he will never fail you. 1 Peter 4:19.
You keep track of all of my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book. Psalm 56:8.
I have a lot of tears recorded and stored. For God to do this promise, he has certainly remained faithful to me to do this collecting.
If we are afraid to live in our vulnerability, we try to make everything that is uncertain to be certain. This includes our faith. But God is undefinable. There is such adventure when it comes to a life of faith because of this!
(No wonder some Christians are so bored. Their faith is safe and defined. And too often involves a lot of hustle and striving.)
With vulnerability comes the possibility that you will have your heart smashed. This is a 100 percent possibility. God is always faithful. That is also 100 percent. God always redeems our pain. This is part of the adventure.
Why do I continually mention a relationship with God as part of a brave life? First, because life is a broken road of faith. It is hard. It is adventurous. It is also the purest of all joys. (I so believed this that my youth ministry resource website for 25 years was named Wild Frontier.)
Second, Christian values give you direction to know how to live better and resist temptation. Temptations—with their immediate gratification–are attractive to people with pain and rage. Do I need to say more?
Third, a Christian perspective is outward-focused vs. a victimhood perspective which is inward-focused. Knowing that it is God who pursues you it is hard to remain a victim to your life. You desire to overcome.
Stay curious, my new friend. Because choosing to be curious is choosing to be vulnerable. Because vulnerability requires you to surrender to uncertainty. And find life.
May your brave faith begin!