One of my resolutions for 2018 is to get back to daily quiet time, even if it’s just 5-10 minutes. Using that time to be still, read a devotional, pray, just be present, journal, whatever it may be, it’s such a good practice. I find myself so much more engaged in my faith and those around me, when I have that time each day. I recently began a devotion called “100 Days to Brave” by Annie Downs. It’s all about being courageous in our daily lives.
I wouldn’t describe myself as a particularly courageous person, but I would admit to being brave or oblivious (ha!) during certain times of my life, whether I knew it at the time or not. I’m only on day five of one hundred but I’ve already been convicted of a few recent times when I SHOULD have been courageous in my truth, and I wasn’t. It’s left me with a little nagging feeling in my spirit that has totally humbled me.
Yesterday, I was with two women whom I had just met. They saw all the adapted equipment we had in the house and asked about Elena. We got to talking about what happened to her, what we went through and the conversation became more than I usually share when I just meet someone. But the conversation came easily and I wasn’t overly emotional about it, which doesn’t happen very often. Then came my moment, she blatantly asked me, “How did you overcome all the anger?” Softball lofted up for the homer, Emmalee. Moment to share! (see Dear Melissa). Moment to share my truth. Moment to say a zillion things. That my peace consumed me one day sitting in church. It was a “God thing”. I forgave her. I was given the strength to overcome the impossible because of my faith. I forgive, because He forgave me. It was just one of the miracles that we’ve experienced along the way. I’m freed from the anger, resentment, bitterness. Ephesians 3:20. Anything. Instead, I said something vague about anger eating you up and not affecting the other person. Ugh. So cliche. (eye roll).
Immediately, I was embarrassed with myself. I had the opportunity to share with someone my truth, the heart of our story, and I didn’t. I was tested and I feel like I got a big, fat F. I’m such an open book, why was I not able to be honest about how I overcame that, how I overcome anything that comes my way?
Sharing my faith, outside of my writing, isn’t always easy for me. It’s clear to me now, that this is an area of opportunity for me, an area that clearly needs improving. My faith is the center of who I am and if I can’t share that with someone WHO LITERALLY ASKS ME THE PERFECT QUESTION, I stink. Honestly, there have been several opportunities I can think of, when I could’ve shared and I didn’t. Maybe I took the credit. Maybe I didn’t say anything. All of it the same.
God gifted me with the ability to express myself and an openness that makes me a ‘sharer’ or perhaps, an ‘over-sharer’ at times. Mixed with what we’ve been through, it’s obvious to me that THIS is my opportunity. THIS is what I need to share. Because once you’ve heard our story, (at least in my opinion), it’s pretty dang tough to not be able to see that there is something deeper, greater, purposeful behind everything that has happened and our resiliency through it all. That doesn’t come from me or Chad or any super human strength that we have. My hope is rooted in something bigger. It’s not my ‘religion’ (blech, I hate that word), it’s my relationship. I am who I am. I’ve survived what I’ve survived. I have hope always because of what I believe. Nothing could give me the peace, resolve, strength, joy, or hope that I have, other than God. It’s so good that I can’t believe I don’t tell people all the time.
Having lived a major life trauma has given me a great empathy for anyone who is enduring something really difficult in their life. Whether it be a friend, acquaintance or story I hear on the news, it always hurts my heart because I’ve been there. Dark times, valleys, are all painful and scary and sometimes hopeless. I’ve been there. I probably carry other people’s burdens and hurts more so than I should. It’s like if I can make it, I want to encourage you to know that you, too, can make it. Know that I pray for you, I think about you, and I hope to be courageous enough with you to tell you why I made it through and I know how you can too.
For the next 95 days (well, and forever after that), my goal is to be brave. Be brave in my truth. Be brave in my story. Be brave in my faith. I can’t promise no more missed opportunities, but God knows I’m not perfect. It has certainly been made clear to me that this is an area I need to work on. I’m listening. I want to be your cheerleader. And I want you to be courageous in whatever you’re facing, too.