A wise person once told me (a-hem Matt Monk) that “Being brave isn’t about not being afraid. It’s about being scared to death and doing something anyway.”
As humans most of us like to be comfortable but at the same time we hope to improve ourselves or our lives in some way beyond our present condition. Ironically, improving our lives typically requires a level of discomfort and sacrifice in order to grow. I read somewhere that in growing wine grapes, vines that are allowed to struggle for water typically produce a lower yield which actually makes for better quality grapes. Chalk it up to building character, but I believe the same is true for us.
Because my name means “brave”, it is a word that has challenged me to live up to its meaning my whole life. As I planner, I like the assurance of setting goals, working hard to achieve them and reaping the benefits. I grew up believing that by fearlessly accepting discomfort and sacrifice, it meant that I was being brave in order to make progress within my plan. What I have discovered however, is that despite how hard I may work or sacrifice towards my own goals, things don’t always go as planned. A dream job might not bring the fulfillment I expected, the timing of marriage and family might not be what I had hoped, or life in general might throw curveballs that are beyond my control.
As a Christian, one of my greatest fears was what if God’s plan for me doesn’t fit my plan? While I have been okay with the discomfort required of working towards my own goals, I haven’t necessarily been open to the fear of the unknown of what God really wants for my life.
In my case, learning to be brave about what I fear (lack of my own control and submission to God’s will) took my own plans not working out as I had expected. Like the vine growing better grapes out of struggle, it was a humbling, excruciatingly painful process of being broken down that has allowed me to learn to have faith that there is a better plan than my own. Not knowing what this plan is of course had me scared out of my mind. I fought it and tested it, but once I learned to rest and wholly submit to it, I have gained such a peace that I am in the right place. While my life is not perfect or without struggle and heartache, the blessings that I have been given because of this are radically beyond what I ever could have planned or imagined for myself. I still have goals and plans, but I have learned to not limit what God can do with my own plan and expectations (and believe me this is something that I learn and relearn all the time). His plan and capabilities are beyond what we can ever imagine for our lives, we just need to have the faith to step forward in following it. Isn’t that a true and meaningful adventure to be thankful for? I urge you to be brave and give it a try!
Ephesians 3: 16-21
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”