Courage

A month ago I wrote about accidental living and having a mission and a vision for your life. I also mentioned a “word of the day.”

I’ve not posted for a few weeks because I was finishing up my book, “Lessons from the Trenches: Staying in a Difficult Marriage” to submit to a contest, and so I can renew my pursuit of a literary agent. I finished it and am deeply grateful for the help of my amazing editors who spend time and energy into making me a better writer.

I was also pondering my “word for the year” and it is COURAGE. Yup. Someone said that was a dangerous word because God would give me more reasons to have courage. Maybe so. Kind of like praying for patience–be careful what you pray for, right?

I already knew that going into this year I was going to have to face down some of those deep fears that could potentially keep me from my desire to be published. See, it’s one thing to sit alone and write a book and maybe show it to a few people and get some good feedback because they actually like me to begin with. It’s entirely another thing to put it out there where ANYONE could read it. It’s another to consider the other aspects of marketing a book that would put ME out there as well.

Those who know me understand that I have no problem talking. I love to talk. I love to teach. But I have deep set insecurities (just like so many of us) that would keep me from possibly speaking out on THIS topic especially. Lilly Grace Brown is my nom de plume to protect my identity and husband simply because of the provocative nature of my writing on this topic. So there is fear of exposure. Fear of being told I’m doing my marriage wrong or that I’m a failure.

Ah, the vagaries of being human.

I also need courage as a mom and wife. When I want to run and hide from the challenges I face, I need to have courage to stand up and make the decisions that might make my son angry. Then I have to face that rage. I don’t like rage. Or maybe I have to face my husband’s verbal or emotional abuse if I challenge him on something and he dislikes it.

Courage. Strong word for a weak person who simply wants to walk in a way that would honor my God.  But in Psalm 31:24, it says: “Be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the LORD” (NASB).  Courage. It doesn’t mean I won’t be afraid. It will simply mean that when the choice comes, I can stand firm in who God made me in Christ Jesus, and do what He is calling me to do, even if it takes me out of my comfort zone.  Like Daniel in the lion’s den, I need to simply move forward in the face of my fear and in confidence in Christ, whether I feel like it or not. And then trust Him with the results.

I am grateful that God does not leave me to do this on my own. I’m grateful for the power of His Holy Spirit within me to enable me. I’m grateful for the people He has placed along the way to encourage and pray when those moments come.

So my word for the year is courage. If you were to select a word for this year for yourself, what would it be?

Accidental Living

I’ve had a few car accidents in my day and in every one I’ve suffered whiplash.  Other than the one that was my fault, they were unpreventable. The fact is, you can drive as carefully as possible, obey every rule of the road, and still end up an accident, because, well, they are accidents. In many of them, I was a victim.

But how many of us follow any kind of rule for life? We go about our days, we do what we need to do and react to people and events around us.  Sometimes those things are not preventable: cancer, death, losing a job.  Being a victim through all of life however doesn’t get us very far, does it?

Many companies have a mission and vision and goals. They use these things to evaluate where they invest time, money and resources (i.e. people). This can help a company be focused and hopefully, successful.

It hit me a few months back that I was not being proactive about my life. I was kind of reacting and not really getting anywhere. Now, I’m not a January 1, New Year’s Resolution kind of gal.  This past year I did choose a word for my year: Change. I had anticipated some major life events. Some happened (I lost thirty pounds and kept it off all year!), and others didn’t (we were supposed to move but didn’t and lost the house we had an offer on).

I had sat down to refocus my ministry goals and re-wrote all of them and really liked how they gave us direction and a sense of greater purpose.  Then it hit me: why not do that with my own life?  I wrote up a passion statement – a one or two sentences that describe the core of who I am. Then I followed it up with what I intended to do to live that out, each item having specific goals. I put this at the front of my journal so I could refer to it often.

So when opportunities come, I can evaluate them in terms of this passion and purpose statement. (mission and vision seems a bit odd for a personal thing). If I am going to commit to something, does that fit with my own stated purposes? If not, is it worth doing? For instance, I could be working on a novel right now, but my heart’s passion for ministry calls me to do the harder work of writing my non-fiction book and pursuing that with a bit more focus. The fiction will get its turn, but the non-fiction is more in line with my passion and purpose.

You don’t have to wait until January 1st to re-evaluate your life and put it on a more focused track. Being a victim of life however will leave you stuck at the at the starting gate. Can I suggest you pray about this and then put pen to paper and give it a try? When you are done, share it with a safe person – and then follow it as your road map into the future. If you sometimes feel like a victim of accidental circumstances, this can be the airbag and safety belt that keeps you from totally crashing and you may even feel empowered to reach higher than you thought possible for the dreams God has placed in your heart.

The dreams I have now are different than they were a few years ago because I’ve grown and changed and become aware of new strengths and a more refined calling of God in my life. New Year’s Resolution? Bah Humbug! Resolute and Intentional Living? Now that I can cheer for.

Blessings,

LGB