Courage. That was my one word for this year. And from the moment I picked it, it has been my mental guardrail, a filter to which I would process my thoughts, a walking cane when I was knee deep in incompetence and wanted to buckle. It was my forward motion signal when my emotions said run-fast-the-other-way.
But then, after “practicing courage” for a few months, there it was. A little muscle of real courage. A little seed of courage growing deep in the soul. A new muscle that came from pushing hard again and again. Courage was growing! Tasks still flinging fast at me, doubts still throwing punches in my face, but now this courage was there helping me steady the course of my days, courage was rising up and helping me walk through paper walls of intimidation. My sister asked me, “do you struggle with fear?” I respond, “of course I struggle with fear”, but then I added, “I just don’t let it stop me anymore”. That was my “little courage” talking (happy face).
If I am honest, I truly didn’t think having chosen one word for the year was going to mean very much. I mean, I didn’t even read the book on it. Don’t you have to read the book on a thing for the thing to work? I just chose my word in January when my Facebook lit up with friends choosing their special words for the year, and I wanted to join the conversation. I wonder where others are with their words; my word still has a firm hold on me.
Having all this new courage started to feel so good that a few months into this one word thing I shouted to God, “God! I have courage now! I want to change my word! I want to change my word to….. (are you ready for this) Ad-ventuuuure!” Poor God, all I put Him through, yet He is so patient with me. And I hear God’s response, “slow down little one, you still need courage”. So do you know what I did? I kept my word but started praying that God would send me on an adventure. Now mind you, I am in this Hobbit reading and watching mode in my life that’s flaming this idea of adventure. One particular scene of the movie has had me gripped for months. In this scene, Bilbo wakes up to his now empty, quiet hobbit hole after the chaos of the evening prior, an evening of uninvited guests, dwarves and wizards that are planning to slay dragons and reclaim their “rightful inheritance” (something we ought to consider doing). Mr. Baggins had gotten his wish to stay behind and in a couple of life changing contemplative moments, he just stands there….and stares his quiet life of comfort in the face. Suddenly it occurs to him. He wanted more. We have all lived that scene haven’t we? That place in our lives where we ask…is-this-all-there-is?
Courage had me wanting more.
So I began to ask, to pray the foolish adventure seeking prayers, and I sensed His pleasure. I think those are the prayers He loves the most. I pray and wait. Now, mind you I have no clue what I am waiting for. Suffice to say it was exciting just to pray for an adventure. Then it happens. A call, an invitation to go further than I’ve ever gone before, more often then I’d ever planned to go. Pieces of a fragmented puzzle I let die long-long-long ago, the young couples dream of travel and ministry and everything that wasn’t was now …a real possibility. So of course with my sense of courage and adventure I say YES! Yes, to this invitation, yes to this new path of going to faraway places taking God with me and letting Him decide how things will unfold, and I will just keep saying yes.
Except one thing. It starts occur to me. Do I actually have to leave home? I mean, did God have to answer that prayer so fast? What if I fail? What if I didn’t in reality want to go that far away from my hobbit hole? What if a dragon of a situation rises up and I decide that adventures weren’t all they are cracked up to be? Or worse, what if a dragon slays me! I’m like Bilbo, I like my 5-6 tidy meals a day, my comfy oversized chair to read in, my 2pm cup of fresh brew. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard that when you go seriously far away from home things change. I live quite comfortably. I prayed for an adventure from my big comfy couch with a hot beverage in hand, it seemed safe at the time. What if I see things I didn’t want to see? What if images of starving children disturb my already sensitive sleep? What if my heart breaks for broken humanity and I come back all messed up? What if I can’t do normal things- normally anymore…….ever?! Denial is easier when you don’t see things for what they truly are. And then fear begins to rise, and to my sinful confession, my fear is always coupled with anger, and here goes more confession, the anger is usually directed at my husband. And here come the angry words. Why did I have to marry a man that wanted so darn much from God? What’s that man asking God for now that all this is happening?? I mean, why couldn’t he be happy with good enough…ever!? Doesn’t he know that wherever far away places God decides to take him I usually get dragged along with him?? Nobody asks me what I want! Funny how fear changes the conversations in your head.
You see, fear wanted me to change my one word from courage to another two-syllabled word starting with the letter C…..comfort. Yes, I like that word. Comfort! And I hear that Voice again…”No little one, your word is not adventure, and it’s not comfort, your word is still courage, just courage”. So I ask God to forgive me and send the husband out to start looking at pretty suitcases.
Sometimes the most courageous thing you can do is simply hope again. To believe God for the impossible like you once did long ago before all those harsh disappointments took you down. I encourage you if you haven’t done so, choose your one word. Let it be your compass during your blurry days when you forget why your even here. Then ask God for wondrous things. Chances are God will couple your one word with just the right experiences to make that word a big reality in your life. Pray the seemingly foolish prayers (He loves those kinds of prayers). Those prayers will be heard by a good and wise God that is ready and willing to both hear and respond to the wildest tucked away dreams of your heart. And if you remember, pray for me, I’m going on a little adventure, and I am going to need a lot more courage for now on.
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