Month: October 2014

The Secret About Being Brave

I met my new friend, Nicole, a college sophomore, on a recent plane ride. She was frantically working on an essay that was due the next day, but every few minutes, she’d pull out her headphones and ask me a question.

They started out generic. Where did you go to college? What do you do now?

As I told her bits and pieces of my story, she wanted to know more. How do you find time for all the things you do? What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career.

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I’ve met some fascinating people with whom I’ve boarded planes as strangers and left as friends. Through our conversation, I realized a secret about being brave.

Being brave is not a feeling. It’s a choice.

If I had waited until I felt brave, I wouldn’t have went away for college. I wouldn’t have moved overseas for grad school. I wouldn’t have left an unhealthy marriage. I wouldn’t have drawn the line with toxic people. I wouldn’t have taken a challenging job. I wouldn’t have signed up for a half-marathon after losing a friend at the finish line of a race. I wouldn’t have sold the roof over my head without a plan. I wouldn’t have packed up a four-year-old and started a new chapter half a country away. I wouldn’t have lived.

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Not for one moment, in any of those situations, did I feel brave. Instead, I felt scared out.of.my.mind. Physically weak in the knees, heart beating out of my chest and sick to my knotted stomach. Completely unsure if I was doing the “right” thing. Totally uncertain about what the future looked like. Wondering if the ounce of faith that I was able to muster up would be enough. Wishing there was an easier way.

I would argue that bravery it’s not something that we feel. But rather, it’s a choice that we must make, in spite of how we feel, because we are seized by a vision, moved by a holy discontent, or passionate about a cause to the point that we can’t not act.

Whatever it is you’re facing, whatever the challenge, the decision, the needed conversation, the prompting. Don’t wait to feel brave before you act.

Brave is what you will be when you decide to walk it out scared beyond belief. Courageous is what you will become. And inspiration is what you will sow when you tell the story about what happened as a result.

Go get ‘em tigers! Show the world how big your brave is!

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What Is Left In Our Wake

It was a Saturday afternoon. A tornado was on the ground, heading our way and it was to be moments before our house would be one of the next hit in its path.

I held my 18-month old daughter and sat on the toilet seat in our small bathroom on the main floor with pillows and blankets to throw over her if I needed to. For what felt like days, but was no more than 20 minutes, my maternal instinct guided my one sentence prayer: God, puh-lease protect us. And if you don’t, then take me and not her.

When the storm passed and we emerged from shelter, it was then that we realized what it left in its wake. Thankfully, a few snapped branches were the only proof that the storm has passed by our house. Less than a mile away, uprooted trees, houses without roofs, and debris scattered everywhere was left in the wake of a very powerful, devastating storm.

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There was that one meeting, where hostile exchanges drove the conversation. Backhanded jabs and insults disguised as questions were all together hurtful, rude and at a minimum, unprofessional. Instead of uniting around a cause, the conversation drove those in the room to be more divided than ever.

When the meeting ended and everyone emerged from the conference room, hurt feelings, frustration, and anger were left in the wake of a very powerful, devastating conversation.

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And then there was the conversation around the dinner table, celebrating a marathon victory of two dear friends. There was vulnerability and honesty and the talk of dreams that had come true and some that hadn’t during the race. There was the comfort of Mexican food and the compassion and encouragement and love of friends who were doing life together.

When the dinner ended and everyone rose to put their dishes away, there were hugs, and laughter and tears of joy and pride and gratitude. In the wake of that conversation, celebration emerged along with a commitment to keep setting goals and accomplishing them.

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As I was thinking about all of these events, each of these moments, it occurred to me that in every conversation, every meeting, every time I respond to the same question that A has asked thirteen times in a row. Every text, every interaction with a service provider or waitress or flight attendant. Every friend who needs to talk, every co-worker who wants to brainstorm, every time I’m frustrated in traffic, stuck in the longest, slowest checkout line, my actions, reactions and words mean that I am leaving stuff in my wake. We all are.

What do I want to leave in my wake? What about you? When there is proof of where we’ve been or who we’ve talked to or what we’ve said, what do we want that proof to look like? What evidence will we leave?

Would I respond more slowly? Would I consider another perspective? Would I compliment and encourage and celebrate more? Would I listen more and speak less? Would I say I love you more?

What needs to change, what areas need my attention so that those who are left in my wake would have experienced love and grace and acceptance and hope after our interaction? What about you?

Here’s to leaving our communities and those in our lives with wakes of encouragement and hope and compassion and empathy as we make our way in the world.

It’s Fall Y’All – The Promise Of The Seasons

Autumn has arrived here in the Midwest. From the chill in the air to football and the option of pumpkin everything, everywhere, it feels and looks like fall.

I came around the bend on my run the other day and saw this:

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As I passed that tree, in its moment of full glory, standing silently declaring the work of a Mighty Maker, the beauty of seasons and rhythms of life overwhelmed me.

Spring. Summer. Autumn. Winter. Each strikingly different. Well-defined and with a promise: That it is temporary. It is necessary, it is preparation for the next, and then it’s over. There are seasons for growing, harvesting, sewing, reaping, mourning, celebrating, surviving, resting, persevering. Each with its own characteristics, each with its own requirements, each for a reason.

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There have been seasons of my own life that have went by far too fast and some that have felt like they have lasted far too long. There have been some seasons that I still don’t understand. And others that I know exactly what they were about.

Seasons where I grew, seasons where I endured, seasons where I rested. Seasons where I dug my heals in out of stubbornness. Seasons where I surrendered. Seasons where I clung to hope and faith in things unseen. Seasons where the path was clear and seasons where I wasn’t even sure there was a path at all.

And in each season, I needed something different. I offered something different. I was shaped. I became and am becoming more like the person I was created to be. But the promise of the seasons is true for the rhythms and seasons of our lives. They are for a purpose. They are temporary. They will end. They will lead to something new.

What season am I in now? What about you? What do I need in this season right now? What can I offer? What do I need to do or learn or take on or surrender in this season to be ready for the next?

As you embrace autumn with your pumpkin spice latte and by jumping in a big pile of leaves, I hope you embrace the season of life you are in, whatever it is, and that the promise of the seasons brings you hope.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8