Redefining Brave

Redefining Brave


She Who Is Brave Is Free.

Hello Adventure.

Live Out Loud.

I know these sayings will appeal to my tween daughter and her friends. I carefully align the cardstock, smooth it down, and load the mat into my diecutting machine. I cut the sayings in black, pink, and turquoise, and diecut some trendy arrows as well.

On Saturday morning, I carefully lay out the sayings, arrows, chevron papers, foam brushes, and both matte and glitter mod podge on the table labeled “Make Your Own Canvas.” Nearby, is a station for the nail lady to do her thing, and the other table, covered with a couple yards of white jersey printed with a feather motif, is our “DIY Dreamcatcher” station, complete with beads, feathers, fibers, fabric strips, and metal macrame hoops as bases.

When the girls arrive for Julianne’s 11th birthday party, all is ready. The basement is so newly finished, wood stain hangs heavy in the air, and sawdust still lingers in corners. Brush strokes mark the one-coated white trim, but we are simply too excited to wait for perfection.

11 bday

The girls — all 13 of them! — arrive and busily head for the stations.

I whip up a batch of mom’s punch (cranberry, pineapple and orange juices spiked with ginger ale and dolloped with lots and lots of rainbow sherbet, which melts into a delightful pink foam) and deliver the snacks to the new basement wet bar area, within easy reach of the craft stations.

The girls loudly sing along to Julianne’s music mix while they arrange papers and apply mod podge, tie fabric strips and slide on beads, and have their nails done.


Later, I think of the wild and free tribal motifs and sayings that so appeal to my girl and her friends.

Paired with cute graphics on tunics and matching leggings, brave’s become a fashion statement. Mixed with burlap and feathers, chalkboard and arrows, brave’s all the rage in trendy decor.

dreamcatcher sign

But, I can’t help but by struck by how unpoetic true bravery is. It’s hard and scary and messy. It doesn’t come with a matching fringed handbag or glitter nail polish.

  • It’s speaking the truth you know in your heart — even when the other person won’t understand — and certainly won’t agree.
  • It’s standing up for that truth under the intense weight of another’s scrutiny or disappointment, or, even, anger.
  • It’s being excruciatingly honest with yourself and listening to God, even when it takes you way out of your comfort zone.
  • It’s asking: “Really, God, are you sure?” {because you think He has to be kidding}, but scraping together just enough resolve to follow His leading.

A friend who is kind and gentle, yet fiercely brave, sent me this blog post from Sarah Bessey a few weeks back. Sarah says:

In the moments when we wonder why we bother, when we feel futile and small and ridiculous, when we feel misunderstood and mischaracterized, when we are paying a price, it’s in those moments that we learn the truth about being brave: it doesn’t always feel good. … I think we like to talk a lot about being brave because the actual doing of it is so freaking terrifying. And tiring. And ordinary.

We tend to think of brave as lightning-bolt bold, when more often, it’s everyday-ordinary — small-yet-resolute, incremental steps toward a goal or decision.

Me, personally? I like the lightning bolt. I like obvious and definitive. It’s easier. It’s certainly more glamorous.

But, being faithful in small, listening to God’s quiet leading, taking little steps — it’s hard. We want satisfaction now. We want results now. We don’t really want to go through the slow, steady, messy process of sorting it all out.

We want to trust in God big at the outset and then fall comfortably back into our good old lukewarm faith, so we can get back to business as usual.

But, He has other plans. He desires slow, steady, and subtle, because
in this, we depend on Him.
In this, we must trust in Him.
In this, we are tied to Him









And, in this, we grow closer to Him, and stronger in our faith.

This process of real-life bravery isn’t tidy or neat. It can’t be summed up in a stylishly Pinnable image or confined to a acronym-laden hashtag.

Our lives of brave faith will be continually complicated and evolving and hard to explain to those not in our shoes.

Our lives of brave faith will be a run forward and a slide back, and then two slow steps forward, and another step back.

Our lives of brave faith will be unique to each of us and will never look like what the Christian next to us is doing.

Our lives of brave faith will always require of us open eyes, minds, and hearts– but, also, the sheer tenacity and courage to slog through the days we’re tired, the days we question our own decisions and others question us too, the days we don’t see any progress, the days we fall down.

Our lives of brave faith will require us to continually turn back to God, the source, because we are in no way equipped for this.

And, that, I think, is exactly what He wants.


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