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I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

It seems like everywhere I look these days I see a call to bravery. The Bloom Book Club over at (in)courage (see that word there?!!!!) is studying Annie Downs‘ new book, Let’s All Be Brave, my MOPS friends have been sharing their theme for the year, Be You Bravely, and my friend Abbie over at Practice of Patience just published one of the most unabashedly humble, blatantly honest, Christian blog posts I have ever read: The Real Reason I Quit. Then, as I’m chin-deep in Annie’s book, my good friend Leah sends me a video of Shauna Neiquist talking up the courage to be honest.

So here we are. And, I must confess that after all of these blog posts, being honest is still really hard for me. Being honest requires risk, and while that’s difficult online, it’s much more difficult in real life. Being honest to the people I love, the people who may walk away–or worse–tear me to pieces is the thing I fear the most.

Until now. See, God’s changing me. I’m realizing maybe I’ve been looking at this all wrong. Maybe I’ve been fearing the wrong things; maybe giving power to people AT ALL is wrong. Maybe courage is really saying, “Ya know, a relationship in which I must constantly be afraid may not be a relationship that’s good for me.” Maybe courage is saying God decides who I am, not people. And maybe bravery is defined by living out that God-designed definition, whether people cheer or boo me down the field. Wow. I just wrote that.

Maybe if I’m in friendships and/or relationships with people where I constantly have to put up a front in order for them to like me, constantly afraid that if they find out I really do use birth control or maybe I don’t need to because my husband’s been sleeping in the guest bedroom for six months or maybe that we don’t go to church every Sunday or that we do go three times a week but scream at each other all the way there and back, or that I have a mental illness or did commit that sin in my past that they’ll ditch me/bitch me out/stab me in the back–maybe these aren’t the people I’m supposed to be sharing my heart and life with? Maybe I don’t even know because I’ve never been brave enough to open my heart to anyone at all?

Maybe being brave is being able to look myself square in the mirror and ask myself these questions:

Do the people and causes and organizations I spend my life-blood on know who I truly am?
Do these relationships and time commitments reflect what I believe is God’s purpose for my life?
Am I pretending that I have more money, strength, time, energy than I actually do to please?
If I had an honest conversation with my spouse, my friend, my boss, my pastor, my kids’ teachers, my family members–would they be surprised by what was really in my heart?
Am I living what I believe?
Am I living the life I’ve always dreamed I would live, or am I living only to accommodate, facilitate, navigate others (and not God’s vision for me)?

Wow. You know what I think of when I read those questions? selfish. I have this little voice, ya know, this little nasty old lady voice that points a bony, needly finger at me every time I start to go down this path of truth and real and fearlessness. selfish halts my climb up the mountain of wellness faster than any other needly finger.

And yet, the thing I fear more than being selfish is getting to the end of my life of people pleasing, only to realize I missed the true path God had for me: one of authenticity, of deep and brave love, where my gifts pour out of me to bless others and my Jesus fills me up continuously as my Ultimate Source. I say to selfish: that path doesn’t sound selfish to me. But it does sound brave . . . and AHMAHZZZING! (That’s amazing the way I say it when I’m really excited about something, like a Hailey’s gluten free cinnamon roll.)

So I want to live cinnamon roll ahhmahzzing. Don’t you? Don’t you wanna live brave, too? Don’t you want to take a deep breath and exhale? Live the life you were meant to live instead of all that bullshit people-pleasing? People-pretending? People-pushing-away-because-I-don’t-want-to-be-that-real?

Okay: I’m gonna start it. And if you want to be real with me, I ask that you share this post on Facebook or twitter and say one brave thing. I don’t know what your brave is, but I agree with Annie Downs: “Bravery begets bravery.” So here goes:

I need a lot more downtime than I let on. Like, a lot. Like, I know I’m bubbly and energetic when you see me at school or church or the family function, but that one performance may cost me a whole hour of productivity later on. I need a nap every day. And, after a family party, after I’ve usually had a few too many glasses of wine just to get through it, I need several days to orient myself again. And it’s embarrassing and weak, but I cannot socialize and keep the same schedule everyone else does. It sucks me clean dry. And that’s the truth.

So there’s my new brave. I’m accepting after so long that I just can’t be like everybody else, and there are ramifications for every choice I make. I have more limits, and I’m going to start honoring them. If it takes me drinking three glasses of wine to get through a social event, I’m going to rethink my attending. If something is so hard that you can’t find your brave, maybe it’s harder than it was ever supposed to be.

Your brave may be saying you can’t work full time, or your brave may be saying that you want or need to work. Your brave may be saying you need a house keeper, or a baby sitter, or to put your kids somewhere a few hours or twenty hours a week. Maybe your brave is that you can’t host as many family gatherings as you have in the past, or that it’s time to spend more time with your spouse’s family and stop placating your own. Maybe your brave is just saying that you need help, or letting your grass grow, or the dust gather because you can’t do it all.

Whatever your brave, whatever you risk, ask Jesus for guidance. Ask Him to reveal His love, His plan, His will for you. Remain in that: As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. John 15:9

What’s your brave? I made you a little play list of some of my favorite songs that help whip up the brave in me. I think we all need music to get up the courage, ya know?

Be brave, friend. I’m quakin’ in my boots, but let me tell you something: life with Jesus is big and scary, but WORTH IT EVERY TIME! Let’s live big. And brave.

Quakin’ and Dancin’,