Today I’m probably talking mostly to myself. Just FYI – this is the way my paper journals work, and today, anyone reading this online version gets a tiny glimpse inside my head. It’s cluttered. Sorry.
I don’t really even remember what seeded this idea of “be all of the brave” – I jotted it down, mercifully gave myself some supporting context, but I don’t have a triggering story to go with it. So my random sticky note to remind me to blog about this looked like:
Be all of the brave, not just in your “pet” area of growth
I wish I had an amazing story about a deep conversation with a friend about hard truths that sparked this post. The fact is, I’ve had many conversations like that. Especially over the last 18 months, these conversations have hovered around bravery, authenticity, and moving forward regardless of outside influences.
I alluded to some of these conversations and friend-pushes in another musing recently. I process my own lessons by sharing them with other people, and my gracious friends have been faithful to offer their insights and experiences as well. Moving forward in a direction that feels authentically me, but at the same time seems to be at odds with the “me” I’ve always made public, is scary. It requires bravery.
Something I’ve noticed about myself is a tendency to focus on one area of growth at a time. And I think this is normal? Maybe it’s easier to process change inside ourselves if we only think about one lesson at a time. I’m not even talking exclusively about lessons learned in church or Bible study. Sometimes there seems to be an overall theme of life that illustrates what I’m learning at the moment. I can go back through my Bible journaling and sermon notes from the same time period and see that it was clear what God was teaching me. (Yes, I keep the sermon notes. This is part of why I’m cluttered.)
Previous “seasons” have included themes of:
- My acceptance by God – I have Ephesians 1:4-5 on my phone’s lock screen. I have Isaiah 43:1 on my wall. I haven’t written much about my need for acceptance, but it’s there, and I carry the assurance of acceptance with me wherever I go.
- God’s comfort in hard times.
- Learning to know God for who He is.
- The importance of honesty in our relationship with God. Confession, repentance, and forgiveness are part of an ongoing process; they are not one-time activities at the point of salvation.
And it would have been easy for me to think, in any of these seasons, that THIS is the most important, it’s supposed to be the theme of my life and ministry, it’s my purpose. And in thinking THIS IS IT (insert your season theme here), to stay put. To talk about my acceptance, for example. To seek out studies on God’s comfort, even when the hard time is over, instead of offering the comfort I’ve received to others. There is value in learning a lesson well, and we should never try to leave a season prematurely. But I think that I can choose to stay too long.
This is what I’m calling a “pet area” of growth. Some of these themes are large, and the seasons can last a really long time. That’s true. But I find myself wanting to stay in a theme even after the season is over. The lessons have been learned, the growth has been given, but I don’t move on. Why?
- Comfort. Once I’ve “mastered” (haha) a spiritual concept or area of sin, it becomes familiar. So I like to stay there. I look for new Bible studies on the same topic. I have the same conversations with godly friends. I went through the discomfort of learning this lesson, I certainly don’t want to start all over with a new lesson.
- Obedience. Or, to be more accurate, disobedience. When God sparks change in me through these seasons, there is always an action step of some kind required. And I will keep revisiting the theme and lesson until I say yes and take the step I’ve been avoiding.
- It’s part of my “brand.” The way things work now, you’re known by what you say and share publicly. These things give clues to who you are, but it is a lot easier to hide behind sharing similar content than it is to show a newly revealed area of struggle and opportunity for learning. Or, more specifically for me, to show a topic about which I don’t have all the answers.
So. The theme of this season for me seems to be bravery, which is tied tightly to authenticity. My obedience step centers on declaring who I am in Christ and how He is changing me. All the lessons I’ve learned so far have brought me to this place, and it would be so easy for me to only share the comfortable and the happy. But staying comfortable and only making people happy is not part of my step of obedience. I’m not out there trying to make anyone unhappy, to be clear. But my calling is to speak the truth of what I’m learning in my study of Scripture.
Like I said, this post is mostly for me. Be all of the brave, Andrea, not just where it’s comfortable or makes you feel good. Step forward, carrying the lessons you’ve learned with you, but don’t ever for a moment get caught thinking that’s all there is to this journey.
Where are you in your bravery? Do you have “pet” themes that you keep revisiting? Is there an action step you’ve avoided taking?