This week as I stood before a table of young adults, I asked them to define courage. The conversations that ensued led us down roads that threw a superhero in the mix here and there with a gentle coaxing of the literal definition of courage to top it off.
Many definitions centered around a synonym, a one-word answer for the idea that seemed to be conveyed in their minds. Brave, willing, intentional, unafraid, fearless, Batman. Actually, Batman was the very first word that was offered, to be honest. However, looking over my notes I combined the kids answers to my question, ‘What is Courage?’ Corporately, they defined it as one who has the strength, perseverance, and ability to do dangerous things even when you are scared or it may seem difficult.
Courage is often equated with strength in fearful and difficult circumstances, especially when you know that it will cost you.
It made me think, later, of the images we project for others. The ideas we have about what we really think and what we want others to really see. I reflected back on other conversations, confessions and prayers that have filtered in and out of my heart and my life these last few weeks. Words tumbling around finall led up to a question I wrote in my journal today:
Is there a contradiction between you that people see and the rest of you only known by God?
And I wondered, really just what people see.
Like my students whose first answer was based solely upon their ability to answer quickly and keeping it light-hearted, the more we sought truth… the more we looked for beauty… the more we mined for goodness we began to see the contradiction between a hero who saves the day by rescuing the damsel in distress or the superhero that gives up sacrificially, maybe even loses the fight but preserves life in spite of themselves.
Courageous people don’t need to be superheroes to change the world… in fact, some of the strongest of souls were the ones who altered one person’s course with just a word.
Some of those people who rank in ‘superhero status’, have been the quiet, servant-hearted, love-giving individuals who never sought the lime light, but were in very sense of the word those who brought light into world. Those who are filled with the fierce and fully powerful spirit of the living God, covered by His angels, and surrounded by a cloud of witnesses walking this earth with the purpose to share a bit of His goodness with others. I am always amazed by the boldness they wear well. I am always envious of the way they share Jesus so freely, so carefully, so effectively.
I want to be like those light-bearers that break bondage. It is who we are all made to be… a super heroic soldiers for the Lord, lifting burdens with the WORD , stripping the world of its sin-soaked grip. And we can be, cause we are made in His image. We can shed the burdens of others, if we are brave enough to pursue the pursuer of our souls . GK Chesterton said that God’s love is so furious that no one is beyond it.
“Christianity got over the difficulty of combining furious opposites by keeping them both and keeping them both furious.” G K Chesterton
If we learn to love furiously, like Brennan Manning says God loves us, ( The Furious Longing of God), we will live a life with courage loosely and believe Psalm 46:10 when it says, “Cease striving and know I am God.” He quotes Chesterton and other authors in this pursuit of loving courageously, putting at odds the way that we are called to live and covering it all with the dare to love like the gospel was our breath.
“The Gospel can be summed up by saying that it is the tremendous, tender, compassionate, gentle, extraordinary, explosive, revolutionary revelation of Christ’s love. “- Catherine de Hueck Doherty.
The more I contemplated this idea of choosing to be brave, choosing to love others, choosing to live like Christ— when at times it can isolate you, I realized the way that those who are called to encourage are the exact replica of this truth and how much of a superpower love actually is.
“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
Encouragers that hold courage loosely and write love in grace notes of inspiration on hearts, they really are the heroes that understand the exponential power of multiplicity. They are those who see the rest of us, because they are looking like He does.
When you bandage the wound of a soul, you actually give it wings to soar and sets our hearts alight with the power of purposeful living.
Faith lets our prayers bounce as beautiful echoes into the fierce love of God and expects them to be heard.
It can feel like a risk to lay it out, the whole fullness of our tattered soul… but Psalm 119 reminds us that we are to Behold His Word so that our eyes would be opened to see truth. So that we would have the courage to look beyond our circumstances and still have faith to pray audacious prayers pregnant with hope.
It is here, when the one who looks close at the power of being loved furiously, and chooses to love others because of they see like God does, that we can look past the breaking to the place where courage dwells, the literal heart at which encouragement is bound and birthed.
God’s heart… His favor, grace, is secured by the furious love He has for us.
His love is the Truth that refines our soul, reflects His passion, and resounds the intimate connection that binds our wandering hearts together so that we can courageously say, “It is well with my soul”, no matter what our circumstances look like.
All this talk on courage because I have been pondering purpose, lately. So much so that I have uttered risky words across the table with a friend. I have questioned the gifts that I thought were there and I have let fear strip the brave from shining strong.
The other day, she texted me… out of the blue… with a litany of words and a series of arguments, one-sided in their recitation, to which I was asked to reconsider my spiraling thought pattern. In sparse but love-filled affirmation, she planted seed of risky courage into the parched soil of my soul and reminded me of the plan that He has for us. The plan to prosper is fully in His wheel-house and mine is to willingly follow my Savior wherever He leads.
Although the journey is filled with rest stops and maybe a few wrong turns, the diligent pursuit of the Father who loves us with the agape deep and powerful kind of love won’t leave us incomplete.
He provides a space for us to grow in that grace where brave feeds our souls strong.
He invites others to bare the real so that we can all let courage drape loosely and let the name of beloved bind us together.
He sends friends to speak hope straight from the throne to detour the wanderer back to the place saved for them.
“Those of us scarred by sin are called to a closeness with Him around the banquet table.”- Brennan Manning
She may never know how deep her words went in healing some broken places within me. Or how very much I needed to be reminded that this scribbling I do here is a part of my purpose. And this encouraging that I long to give is both scary and beautifully risky.
She may not understand that her affirmation and belief that God has a plan that is bigger than me…even if it never leaves these hallowed walls of my home where the audience is my children and husband alone… it has eternal value.
She put a little courage within my grasp that day, with a contingency of grace as the safety net beneath me. And because she saw, even if it was a glimpse, the rest of me like God sees us, her words-of-light encouraged me to step into that furious love His grace always provides for us.
I am learning to hold on loosely, praising God for the encouragement He so faithfully sends our way. I am grateful.
How are you learning to be brave as you collect #gracemoments?
IT’S YOUR TURN TO BE A GRACE COUNTER! SHARE YOUR GRACE MOMENT IN THE COMMENTS BELOW AND THEN COUNT GRACE WITH A FRIEND WITH COMMENT ON A BLOG OR TWO.
If you are a blogger, link up here with a post about finding grace moments in your life or one of your favorite inspiring and encouraging posts from this week. Share your thoughts in the comment section telling me about the #Grace Moments you experienced this week. *(only 1 post per link please)*
Take time to visit your neighbor next to you, and if you want visit a few more friends on the journey. We all need a little encouragement and affirmation as we travel together.
If you don’t have a blog, you can connect with me via my Journeys in Grace FB page by sharing a photo or a comment. Or you can join the party by sharing your images on Instagram with #Gracemoments hashtag.
Each week I will try visit as many of your amazing posts as I can.This is a safe place to sit and dwell in grace together, friends. I can’t wait to pour a cup of friendship with you and take in the grace moments you have to share. Don’t forget to leave a comment below, I love to hear from you.