20180121

You're Braver Than You Know

I sent out a request for women to share with me their brave stories to include in my new book! Silence.

This hadn’t happened with previous books. Women are usually eager to share parts of their story to help other women. My ministry tagline and the subtitle of my latest book Mentoring for All Seasons is: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. I knew women had experienced many occasions of bravery, but few were willing to share them... or at least that’s what I thought.

So I changed my story request to, 
Sharing a time God called you to do something you knew you couldn’t accomplish without His help. Still, no stories.

Then one woman responded and I understood: “Brave is not a word that I associate with myself or with any action I’ve taken!” Yet, this woman had bravely admitted to difficulties in her life that were hard to share openly, but she did it to help others.

How Do You Define Brave? 
Synonyms for brave are valiant, resolute, unafraid, courageous, adventuresome, bold, fearless, spunky, gritty, spirited, undaunted, etc. Maybe I was using the wrong term, because I know many women would attribute some of those synonyms to themselves.

Women may feel it’s not humble to acknowledge bravery, or don’t realize their actions are brave. Women just do what they have to do!

We tend to categorize brave women as those who go on the mission field or into the military, willing to lay down their life for a cause they believe in, or we only attribute bravery to men.

Courage might be a better word than brave. We can all identify with applying verses to our life, such as “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous” (Psalm 27:14).

Or Psalm 31:24: “So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord!” Although we have waited patiently for God to answer a prayer request, how many of us have considered that brave or courageous?

Here are a few areas where women are braver than they think or give themselves credit.

1. Motherhood 
"We were like a mother feeding and caring for her own children. We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too" (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8).

When my daughter gave birth to her first child, she looked at every mother with new respect and thought: Wow, you did that, too! Sitting next to her in church recently, she gave her husband a knowing look when the pastor spoke of his wife giving birth and said, “She did something I couldn’t believe!”

Single moms are trying to make ends meet; their responsibilities not only consist of staying up at night with a sick child, but also protecting and providing for their family single-handedly.

Most moms put their children’s needs before their own and would lay down their life for them.

Moms are braver than they know.

2. Defending Your Faith 
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13).

I’m bold about my Christian faith in social media, speaking, and writing, in spite of opposition from today’s culture. I'll admit that when someone calls me brave, I’m surprised. Isn’t that what every Christian is called to do? In Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I challenge all Christians to be brave:

"Can you imagine the revival if Christians actively influenced the culture to remember God? My challenge to you is together let’s start a bold and brave movement to create a God-centered culture that remembers the magnificent goodness of our great God in our homes, communities, and churches.

Where has God been nudging you to be brave and bold about your faith? It will require getting out of your comfort zone, but comfortable isn’t God’s way. You won’t be “politically correct,” but that wasn’t Jesus’ way."

If you evangelize and challenge the cultural norm, you’re braver than you know.

3. Facing Fears 
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

Fears are a natural part of life. We all have them. Each of us must face our fears to move ahead in life. Maybe it’s leaving home for the first time, moving to a new area, flying or heights, a job interview, or starting a new job.... Fill in the blank with your fear. My fear is dogs. I live in a rural area and like to walk. Heading out for a walk, I pray the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), and in a particular area, I recite the 23rd Psalm. I refuse to let my fear stop me from enjoying a walk. My grandkids now have a cute little dog, and bravely I’m getting to know him.

When you overcome a fear, you’re braver than you know.

4. Confronting Addictions 
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Admitting you have an addiction and need help requires courage and bravery. No one wants to confront issues that make us uncomfortable or put us in an unfavorable light. But addictions control your life. God wants you to experience freedom regardless of how embarrassing, humiliating, or hard it is to break free.

If you’ve sought help for addictions, you’re braver than you know.

5. Making Changes 
“Be brave, determined! And do it!” (1 Chronicles 28:10).

Many women attending Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry Orientation Coffees are apprehensive. It’s a big step to be a mentor or find a mentor and be matched with someone they don’t know. But these women want a spiritual change in their life, and they know that mentoring helps. In Mentoring for All Seasons, I describe Melanie, who called and asked me to mentor her: “You might be the ‘Melanie’ brave enough to make the phone call or approach the woman you want to mentor you.”

Making a change is braver than you know.

6. Illness 
“I try to make the best of it, try to brave it out” (Job 10:16).

I’m a three-time breast cancer survivor and I know how hard it is to be brave with devastating diagnoses and treatments. There are times you don’t feel brave and need to have a good cry. Having a down day doesn’t make you any less brave. Only prayer and God got me through and helped me realize...

I’m braver than I know.

[written by Janet Thompson]