What does being courageous look like to you? Enduring a painful divorce? Walking through a frightening diagnosis and illness? Facing the death of a loved one? Finally walking through the pain of your abusive past?
We all can claim our personal fears and imperfections. Finding a voice was one of my greatest struggles. As a child, I wasn’t given the opportunity to freely express my opinions, to disagree, or to ask questions. I was often told what I was supposed to think and given no opportunity to state my fears or defend myself against accusations.
Like many people, I learned to protect myself by pleasing others.
So as I moved through my adult years, one aspect of courage for me has been to learn to be comfortable being the perfectly imperfect me. What does this mean? First and foremost, I’m a child of God. Everything about me is rooted in my security as His own child, chosen and loved.
Because I’m God’s child I find courage in Him:
1. My purpose, identity, and confidence are secure.
This gives me courage to set a course and direction that may oppose culture, popular thinking, or the advice or friends and loved ones. Living out God’s purpose for my life may require sacrifice and suffering, may mean laying down my life for others, but I find courage as I lean on God’s direction in my life and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Living a life of godly integrity and Christlike love surpasses pleasing others to protect myself.
We live in a post-Christian culture. I am who God says I am and I know my purpose here on earth because I believe what God says and trust who He is.
2. I no longer fear failure.
Courage wisely tells us that “failure” is an opportunity for learning, growth, and God’s redirection in my life. For instance, the loss of a job is an opportunity for ministry in a new environment or reevaluation of how to better apply my skill set. It’s also an opportunity to evaluate how I fit into my previous work environment and whether or not I was the best match for that position and why. This process is an opportunity for growth.
God builds purpose into every element of our lives. Nothing is wasted if we have a heart that’s willing to be taught. Failure is simply a matter of perspective and certainly nothing to fear, since we all fail.(For instance,I never got off the knot in “climb the rope” in gym class, and it really hasn’t affected my life much. Except I’ll probably never be an aerialist, and we can all thank God for that.)
3. I can admit I’m imperfect.
I cry easily. My house isn’t as clean as I’d like it to be. I don’t floss my teeth. I’m twenty pounds overweight. I’m not as patient with my husband as he deserves.
As imperfect as I am, God sees me as flawless.
The list of my imperfections and sins is longer and messier than I could or should write about in a blog.
But my sins are forgiven and covered by the blood of Jesus. I don’t have to pretend I’m perfect or be ashamed because I’m not.I can live in freedom and gratitude. Because I understand the amazing grace and mercy I’ve been granted, I’m motivated to live in a cycle of faith and repentance, extending forgiveness and grace freely to others.
My goal is to never stop being overwhelmed by God’s goodness, mercy, grace, love, and forgiveness.
4. I can drop the pretense.
I know I’m not okay and neither are you. We’re, hopefully, both sinners saved by grace. I can drop the pretense. I’m a mess and you’re a mess. We just struggle with different messes and are in different places in our struggles. Our churches are filled with broken, forgiven people. As my former pastor says, his job was to try to get as many of them to heaven in the best shape possible.
It’s our job to try to help one another get to heaven in the best shape possible.
5. To help one another, we need to have the courage to be vulnerable.
This means talking about our brokenness and imperfections, our struggles and pain. This means dropping the pretense.
This takes courage to trust people. Courage to be seen as we are. Courage to explore the dark spaces of our souls, places we often keep hidden even from ourselves. It was refreshing to talk about this kind of courage on April 11, 2016 with Pastor Dawn Damon and Wanda Sanchez on FreedomGirlsSisterhood Radio. I encourage you to tune in and listen to the conversation.
I’d also love to have you share a time when you acted courageously. What fear did you have to face?