That's the word that kept popping up at me from the most random places. I ignored it at first. In fact, I wanted the word to be new, but instead it seemed as if God had different plans for me.
I avoided writing this very blog post for my 2016 word because I wasn't sure I wanted my word to be brave. Why couldn't God make it new? I mean, after all He is doing a new thing in me. He is making all things new after my tough year last year, right?
But nope, God sometimes works in a totally different way than what we think we want or need. And instead he placed before me this word for 2016: Brave
By it's very definition brave means ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.
The question remains on why he made this word my word for 2016? In some ways, I know some reasons on why he brought this word to me. I needed to be brave to walk away from an unhealthy situation in my life. I need to be brave in some upcoming big decisions for our family. I need to be brave to know that God will bring a few dreams on my heart into fulfillment.
But I think the biggest way God is calling me to be brave this year is in my mothering. I would never want to minimize those of you who are single mothers. You are amazing, and your brave journey is much harder than mine. Many times I have avoided talking about this with others because of that very reason. But the reality is, I do a good majority of my parenting alone. My husband owns his own business, and I'm so proud of him for it, but the reality is that it does take him away from our family. It used to be just during the spring/summer/fall, but now his business has grown (something we are SO thankful for), and even in the winter he is gone a lot.
And this past year I broke.
The stress of trying to do everything on my own just got to me. I just felt like I couldn't do it on my own anymore. I have one daughter who is a pre-teen, one who needs her daddy all the time, and the other who is a constant bundle of energy. In my mind, I could not be both mama and daddy. There were days when I just could not do it anymore. I was exhausted to my very core. I felt as if all I was, was mama, I wasn't Vanessa anymore. I love being mama, but I wanted a break from that too. My husband got a break every day, so why couldn't I? Why would God ask me to have this responsibility? Why did it feel like if one of my kids chooses a "wrong" path, it is all on my shoulders because I am the one doing 99% of the parenting? How was it fair for me to feel so alone in this parenting journey?
Basically, I had a good pity party. And if I'm honest, I still have days like that. I am tired. I really do wish sometimes that my husband had a 9-5 job so he can be more present in parenting. I'm lonely. Having a husband who works all the time, leaves very little "me" time, or even time for us to be together.
It was during this pity party that God first showed me the word brave. Oddly enough it came to me in an airport while traveling on my way home from visiting a friend. The word brave was right there in front of me. I remember staring at it and thinking that is not me. I'm not brave. I don't ride roller coasters because heights scare me. I don't just pack my family up and move to a foreign country to be a missionary because I married a very steady man who has not been called to that. I have never gotten a tattoo even though I know exactly what I want, because I am afraid of the pain. As a teenager, I bridge jumped once. But it was only after sitting on the side of the bridge for two hours while my sister desperately tried to convince me to jump in.
Brave is not a word to describe me.
Yet God has spent these last five months whispering it over my heart. Reminding me in so many little ways that I am brave, or that I can be.
I'm learning that sometimes, being brave looks so different than what I thought it would. I thought being brave in this time in my life would mean that God would wave His magic wand and make all things right. He would rescue me from feeling overwhelmed and somehow change my situation. Instead, I'm finding myself being drawn out into the waves just as the song, "You Make Me Brave" says:
"You make me brave. You make me brave. You call me out beyond the shore into the waves."
Umm, hello God?!? I don't really know anyone who wants to be called out into big waves. Well, except surfers, and as much as I think surfing looks fun, it scares me. But here I stand, being called out into some big waves. Being asked to be brave in this time.
And do you know what I'm slowly learning while being brave? I'm learning this: God loves me. He really does. He is here with me in this hard place. He knows exactly what I need in this time, and He will bring me through it.
"As your love, in wave after wave, crashes over me, crashes over me. For you are for us, you are not against us. Champion of heaven, you made a way for all to enter in."
I'd like to say with 100% certainty as I post this that I am now brave and can trust God with what is to come in this area of my life, but reality is, I can't. I have no idea what brave will look like. And that scares me. I do know that tomorrow a part of my brave journey starts as my youngest daughter and I get on a plane to visit her first family. Something that both excites me and scares me as her mama who just desires to protect her little heart. The good news is, I feel like this word is for all of 2016, and while that scares me a bit in that I just want God to take care of everything now, I know that at the end of 2016, I'll see God's hand in my life and I'll be able to see exactly how He made me brave this past year.
"She knew she could be brave because she was His." ~Isaiah 43:1