I wrote the following words over a year ago, when I made the 2,000 mile trek from my homeland to a new land with my husband. I was scared. I didn’t know what would come of our new lives, and boy were we unprepared for what God has brought us through. I’m still scared, if I’m being honest. So here is a reminder to myself to draw near to the throne of grace, and embrace God’s faithfulness amidst all of the questions. Be courageous, Charity. His handiwork is woven through every step of life, especially in the moments when we can’t see or feel it.
May this be an encouraging nudge for you as well, to pick up arms and face the world with bravery.
It’s Saturday morning. I’m sitting in my room with a gentle California breeze cascading through the cracked window. The sky is blue, the birds are awake, and I’m reflecting on the reality that as of 2 weeks ago, this strange and tropical place is my new home. My real, forever home is 2,000 miles away in Chicago, where my parents and my siblings and my precious nieces live. It’s where I spent 23 years of my life, learned my greatest lessons, married, and became the person I am today. Nothing will ever replace the memories of those chapters; in fact I never thought I’d actually be saying goodbye to my home one day. Yet here I am. I did.
Some have called me crazy. Some have called me brave. I’ve had moments of butterfly-inducing-excitement, and moments of intense fear and sadness. Friends and family have asked me how I’m feeling, and all I can say is that’s quite a conundrum. Its been a mix of emotions that I’m told is normal but is still difficult to sort through. The truth is, I’m incredibly excited for what God has in store for me, despite the pain of saying goodbye to my whole world. The truth is, I desire to be brave. I know I need to be. And ultimately, I know that the Lord knows what He is doing, and I want to be apart of it.
I’ve had a lot of alone time the past 2 weeks. Sitting in our temporary room, spending hours on the computer completing job applications, researching, brainstorming, and praying. We knew that this new adventure would require a lot of faith and bravery. But in thinking about bravery and courage and how that has related to my situation, the questions came to mind: what does bravery really look like? Is bravery simply the making of a tough and scary decision? Or is it more so about the follow through and the attitude behind it? Yes, you can make a hard and life-changing choice, but are you really that brave if you do it begrudgingly?
So it’s not necessarily about the fact that you make a scary choice. It’s about following through that choice with endurance, determination, and patience. Even David made a terrifying choice when he determined that he was going to face the giant alone. But what made him truly brave is the follow-through and the courage that drove him to complete the challenge without backing down. That’s what helped him win. His faith in God’s help, and his courage to keep up the fight. When I look at my situation, I know that the challenge is not just with making the decision to go on a wild adventure across the country – it’s with being strong, loving, and teachable through all the challenges that will come with that decision.
According to the Scriptures:
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Tim 1:7
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Deut 31:6
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Rom 8:26-27
I’m told from the Bible that God has given me free will, and the power to be courageous and to fight fear. I’m also told that being brave and courageous is a command. Sometimes the Lord asks us to take a big step in an unfamiliar direction, and to do so with faith. When I thought about what my fears are exactly, I realized that they mostly revolve around the desire for comfort, safety, and familiarity. Just like the Martin Luther King quote above. That’s my own personal weakness. Perhaps yours is a different area. But regardless of our own inner fears, God has given us the command to fight, and the will to fight.
The reality is, comfort isn’t always the breeding ground for a stronger person. Bravery forces growth because it teaches new things that wouldn’t otherwise be learned inside of our comfort zone. Birds don’t learn to fly inside their nests. They’re pushed out and forced to fall – the best way for them to realize that a) they do indeed have wings, and b) they need to use them.
This morning, and for many more mornings to come, I’m the little birdie, struggling with new wings and trying to figure out how they work. Who I am. What my purpose is. But I’m grateful to say I have a God that surpasses all my fears and concerns, and strengthens me daily to face the challenges.
This is my challenge to myself, and to anyone listening, to be brave in unfamiliar and uncomfortable circumstances. To rise up and seize the day with purpose. To allow yourself to grow, rather than be suppressed by fear of the unknown. And to remember that you are not alone.
Hebrews 4:16: Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.