Put on your brave face

I don’t have a reputation for physical bravery. I’m not the girl who can jump into the water from a high spot, you won’t find me going into areas that I’m not supposed to, and you can bet all of your money that I will NEVER be willing to touch/see/be in the presence of any sort of reptile.

Okay, so some of those things don’t actually have to do with bravery, but I think they paint a pretty clear picture of who I am: I am the safe girl.

I am a big fan of things staying the same. I organize my room so I know exactly where everything is, and I manage my life in a similar way. Safety to me is knowing exactly what’s going on and what I need to be prepared for it. I crave the peace that comes when I have everything laid out and accounted for.

I bet most of you already know this, but that’s not how life works. It’s certainly not how my life works. And the deeper I get into this thing called life, the more I’m realizing that my need for safety is actually my internal voice getting championed by fear. Fear has been given the opportunity to take over my life, and it has flourished in the garden of my mind. It’s a weed, one that looks pretty when you aren’t thinking about it, but when you realize how poisonous it really is you see the disaster it’s bringing upon your life.

When I was 16, my mom was diagnosed with leukemia, right after a bumpy six months of me doing some very deep soul searching. When I was 17, my grandparents moved in with my family (7 people and 4 dogs yikes) and turned my family’s life in a new direction. When I was 18, I lost my grandmother and developed an illness that took hold of my life. At 19, my health got worse, I transferred schools, and starting struggling with anxiety, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder in a way I have never struggled before. And now at 20, I am facing a major surgery that will change my life as I know it, all while struggling with some serious loneliness.There has been so much that has happened since my 16th year, and all of those things put together has made it so that mentally I crave stability and safety more than anything else. I yearn for my life to stay the safe for any amount of time, and I have found myself on more than one occasion looking up and desperately praying that God would make all of this stop.

I think on some level, we all really want stability. And we want anything to do with us being brave to be on our terms. We want to make the choice of when and how we will be brave, but that’s not always how it works, because that’s fear talking. When you hear those voices telling you that your circumstances are too much for you and your God to handle, fear has crept its way into your brain.

I’ve let my circumstances feed my fear.

I’ve been going through life like I’m dying.

Living a lifestyle shaped by chronic illness makes it easy for lines between living and dead blurred. And I understand why: on the days when in hurts to even breathe, it’s easy to forget  how alive you really are. Your hearts pumping, your lungs are filling, but your body feels slow. When your mind moves a mile a minute, you expect your body to follow suit, but that’s not always the case. So here I am, living a half life.

I am alive. I am here. I am okay.

But it doesn’t feel like it.

I try to memorialize myself in ways I didn’t even realize: notes in my bible, passages in my journal, pictures of my life, keeping every letter that I can. I don’t want to be forgotten, but in the process of doing so, I’m holding myself back from remembering who I am. 

This is all fear working in my heart. This is fear trying to control me. This is fear of getting worse, of being forgotten, of never making an impact. That’s all fear trying to speak into my heart, and sometimes it works.

Today is Monday, and I can feel myself letting fear drive this next week.

Today is the first day of a brand new week, a week I was given to be and breathe and become. I want to put bravery in the front, let it guide me through whatever might get hurled my way in the next few days… but instead I’ve put fear in the front.

This fear whispers “you’re not good enough.” Its voice chokes me out with phrases like “you won’t make it.” It likes to spew that bad things have happened and will continue to happen, but it especially likes to squash that hope I hold onto that good things are still coming my way.

“Emily, you’re not going to make it. This world is going to beat you down, and you’re just going to have to let it pull you under because you’re not good enough to beat it.”

Fear is whispering lies into my head. It’s straight up trying to tell me the exact opposite of what God tells me and what God tells you every single dang day. Honestly, fear has won enough battles in my life and I’m just not putting up with it this week. I’m fighting back, fighting against that voice.

Fear YOU don’t get to tell me what I’m worthy of. You don’t get to define my strength. Fear, you don’t get to win. 

Choose bravery over fear every time, despite the stability you crave. Lovely human, be brave and fight fear. Don’t let bravery be defined by safety, let bravery be defined by your boundless spirit. Don’t box in your bravery. Don’t try to sweep it under the rug and hide it from your life of living safe. You might be thinking out of sight, out of mind but bravery is NEVER going to stay out of sight. It will call for you, and you have to listen for that call. Listen to your heart and your soul and your mind and your body and just go do, despite the fear of changing. And sometimes you have to look at your life and realize that making the scariest change might also mean making the bravest change as well. Fear and bravery are like night and day… both are present, but you get to choose which one you live in. Let light win. Let bravery win. And let fear lose, because fear will never get to win.

Fear doesn’t get to win because I want to be brave, have been brave, and will continue to pursue bravery. Fear doesn’t get to win because my mom beat leukemia. Fear doesn’t get to win because no matter what life hurls my direction, my God is stronger. My God is stronger than any auto-immune disorder my body is fighting. My God is stronger than life-changing reconstructive surgeries. Fear doesn’t get to win, because Jesus already won the whole dang thing.

Fear doesn’t get to win because God is before and behind me.

“You hem me in behind and before, and you lay Your hand upon me.” {Psalm 139:5}

Your fear might be as deep and vast as the ocean, but bravery is walking through the waves regardless because you know your God will never let you drown. So don’t let the fear win, because God has got you behind and before and I am standing there right next to you.

Choosing to kill the fear,



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