God has named you brave

Part 2 of an interview with Kelly Johnson,
Author of Being Brave: A 40-Day Journey
to the Life God Dreams for You

God has made us brave, not fearful beings. In a forty-day devotional format, author and blogger Kelly Johnson invites readers to consider a new way of thinking about what it means to be brave and challenges them to seek a greater intimacy with God and the people God has placed in their life.

Through Scripture, stories, prayers, and thought-provoking questions, readers will recognize the seeds of divinely inspired bravery and learn the strength found in community. Using letters of the word brave as a guide, Being Brave highlights what God’s Word has to say about the characteristics of bravery: Bold, Resilient, Authentic, Vulnerable, and Engaged and Empowered by the Spirit.

God has named you brave. Being brave is your birthright as a child of God. You already have everything you need to live a life of passion, sacrifice, meaning, and purpose. You don’t need anything else to be ready. Many of us have been playing it safe when God wants us to be bold and hiding from one another when God wants us to live in community. Courage is more often experienced in community and naming one another brave is the path back to God and to the bigger, braver life we desire.

Q: How might being brave look different for different people?

Being brave or having courage means something different to all of us. We would all agree that a person on a battlefield requires a large degree of bravery. Facing a diagnosis of cancer or sitting with the pain of losing someone you love requires great courage as well. However, the need for bravery is not always black and white. What might be terrifying or hard for some might be easy for others.

For many of us, risking vulnerability and allowing ourselves to be seen as inadequate can be scary. For some of us, we are fearful of the unknown, of loss, of change, of that which we can’t control, of appearing foolish, and of not being able to protect those we love. Is being brave in those circumstances even related to the kind of bravery required to lay down your life in a combat zone? What does this other kind of everyday courage look like?

Being brave might include any or all of the following:
• Being willing to move forward, even when I’m scared.
• Living creatively, chasing my dreams, and not settling for safe.
• Being driven more by my curiosity than by my fears.
• Being vulnerable and authentic in my relationships, even though I can’t control the outcome.
• Trusting other people, even though I have been hurt.
• Being honest about who I am and what I want.
• Admitting when I am wrong and taking responsibility for my mistakes.
• Taking risks and being willing to fail.
• Asking for help.
• Believing my story is an important part of the larger story God is telling.
• Embracing progress, not perfection.

Authenticity and vulnerability build connection. Jesus reminds us the most important commandment is to love God with all our heart and to love one another as we love ourselves. Although God has created us for community, we often hide from each other in our more tender places. Comparison, competition, and perfectionism block connection and keep us stuck believing we are irreparably separated. Authenticity and vulnerability break down those walls and build the connection we long for, the connection for which we were made. Listening to one another, authentically sharing our lives with one another, and naming one another brave is the path back to God and to the bigger, braver life we desire.

Choosing when to speak up and when to remain silent is often a difficult choice. I find I make wiser choices when I stay connected to the power of the Holy Spirit through prayer. Slowing down to seek direction from God in a moment of disagreement, instead of responding impulsively in the heat of strong emotion, I am much more likely to communicate with respect. Whether we speak the truth in love, or choose to remain silent, we can trust God’s spirit of power, love, and self-discipline will be with us and guide us.

For the past ten years, I have had the privilege of serving at a local day shelter for homeless and poor individuals in our community called The Lamb Center. I have been deeply inspired by the staff, volunteers, and guests of The Lamb Center, and it has changed the way I think about what it means to be brave and live in community. It is my intention to donate part of my proceeds from sales of the book back to the ministry of The Lamb Center.

My friends at The Lamb Center have taught me that being brave means asking for help from God and from each other. We are always more courageous in community, but many of us equate self-reliance with strength. My friends at The Lamb Center are under no delusions and have no misconceptions that they have their lives under control. The pride and arrogance that plague many of us with comfortable homes and money in the bank have long since been left behind by my friends who sleep in the woods. Unlike many of us in more affluent circumstances, they know they need help because their circumstances leave them no alternative. Around our Bible study table each week, the masks of invincibility are left outside, and I am reminded how much we all need each other, regardless of our circumstances. God created us to lean on one another and to take care of one another.

Learn more about Being Brave and Kelly Johnson at www.KellyIveyJohnson.com. She is also active on Facebook (KellyJohnsonGraceNotes), Twitter (KellyLJ1), and Instagram (kellylj1).