Thursday, March 10, 2016

Brave in Ordinary Life.

I have never considered myself a brave person. I've been told I am a few times, but I suspect my inability to keep my mouth shut is often mistaken as bravery.

I know a woman who is truly brave. She did not feel brave when her husband left, when she was raising her biological son and three adopted children who had endured trauma and neglect during their formative years. She felt scared, abandoned, confused, and unsure. My friend trudged on, totally oblivious to the work God was doing in her. Yes, she knew He was probably doing something, but she was not exactly excited about the turns her life had taken. God was uprooting many years of trauma in her own life in order to reveal His loving kindness. 

I had the amazing pleasure of meeting her the day before her husband left, and then we became the closest of friends about a year later. During the next few years, her house was foreclosed on, her ex stopped seeing the children, one of her daughters went from troubled to out of control. She moved in with a family, who later turned their backs on her and asked her to leave. She left willingly, hoping God would provide for them yet again. He did, though it wasn't a magical, suddenly ideal type of circumstance. Her daughter continued to spiral down, suffering from trauma so deep she still cannot acknowledge her pain. Today this daughter is still unable distinguish truth from lies, both from the outside and within her own mind, and wreaks havoc on the family whenever she has the chance. 

Through abandonment, debt, trauma, medical emergencies, loss of friendships, rejection, and parenting woes, my dear friend has remained steadfast in one thing: she knows God is working. 

Like I said, my friend would never call herself brave, although can now see how what she did was brave, without knowing it then. Now she knows she is truly brave, and she is unstoppable. I cannot believe I get to be her friend.

I have another friend, one whom I've only actually seen in person for a total of nine days. Three of those days, she was just a stranger in a room and I didn't even know her name. Another three of those days, I was speaking at a small conference and she was in the crowd. We only realized on day six that we had met before. The last three days, she was speaking to me, training me and a room full of others on becoming a tutor through Classical Conversations.

Over the course of the last four months, she went from being a homeschool mom getting back into a routine after a Disneyland vacation, to a mother unsure if her young son would live through emergency surgery. She went from thinking about catching up on laundry, to wondering if her son would have permanent brain damage, then to wondering what that almost certain damage would do to his life, to her life, and to her family's life.

If that wasn't enough, her and her husband decided that another young man, who also had endured a traumatic brain injury and had no family to call his own, should become a member of their family. She went from having three wild boys, to having four wild boys, two who would have special needs for a while, and very possibly forever. 

She also might not call herself brave. But through her life, and especially through the last several months, she has demonstrated a desire to see what God is doing, even if it includes circumstances she would rather not endure. 

These women exemplify a type of bravery we can all benefit from. They did not go into the world, seeking to strive against all odds, against impossible circumstances, or chances of death. They woke up, encountered something they did not expect, and still looked to God. 

I've been listening to the book Girls With Swords by Lisa Bevere (per the recommendation of friend #1 mentioned above) and I am inspired to be brave. I'm not seeking a way to make a global impact, though I hope to, but rather, a way to be brave in the regular events in my day. Bevere says if we consider ourselves daughters of the King, we are in a battle, and we are under attack. There is no middle ground, she says, we are either fighting or captive. If we think we are neither, we are captives and don't even know it. Satan wants to destroy us, not necessarily for what we are doing today, but for what we will do, for the life we will live. 

Am I living a life so opposed to the devil's work that I am a target? I often think not, but I'm beginning to wonder if I don't give Satan enough credit for the ways he attempts to undermine my spirit. I see most of my struggles as problems within myself, issues with my personality, or bad habits I have allowed to sink into my daily life. Since listening to Bevere's words of wisdom and encouragement, I am starting to wonder if these thoughts I let in are actually a ploy to make me weak, to give me doubt, and to shut me up before I help someone else turn to God in their difficulty. 

I've been thinking about this every day. When one of my children blatantly disobeys, my first reaction is usually some sort of disappointment, then frustration, usually followed by questioning my own parenting abilities or sin issues. But wait. What if I decided to remain confident in the ways God has gifted me and pursue that child with love, investing my best into them? Is there any time where this would not be a better response? Is it really humility to question everything we do, or are we succumbing to a lie, thinking confidence is a quality Christians should disdain? 

I can feel this idea and God's truth changing my heart. When I spend time acknowledging the spiritual warfare I cannot see, I suddenly see my daily woes as tiny obstacles God is able to conquer. It becomes easy to turn to God and say "Let's do it!" I have strength do endure, a willingness to suffer, and a hope that enables me to sleep well at night. In fact, seeing the eternal battle won, knowing I have a place on the winning side, almost makes me laugh at what I often feel is so difficult. 

Will this attitude land me a life like Job's? Maybe. But wasn't it worth it for him? Wasn't God honored, Satan proved wrong, and people thousands of years later encouraged? 

What do you think a brave person looks like? In what areas of your life could you act more bravely? 

Whatever thing you think you need in order to be brave, turn to God and ask Him about it. In homeschooling, living without a loved one, being more cheerful towards your family, taking flack at work, or dealing with stress from unending needs of those around you, God wants you to be brave. He wants you to look toward Him, see your circumstance clearly, and find joy in the fact that He has won over all. Big or small, impossible or ordinary, we are brave by showing up, over and over again. Whether we enter these circumstances willingly or not, when we look to Him as our source of help, we are brave warriors, fighting for the Heaven we are guaranteed to possess! 

Don't wait for a good cause, or important issue to decide to be brave. Practice being brave every day by not letting Satan discourage you. God has redeemed you, fought for you, and won. Despise discouraging thoughts, and put your mind on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. Pretty much, set your mind on God, for He is all of these things, and He will strengthen your small, brave heart. You will be astonished at the circumstances you endure and your faith will grow as you see God holding you through every amazing, catastrophic, or even every ordinary day.

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