Friday, January 15, 2016

Live Bravely, Love Fiercely

I grew up a shy and, admittedly, fearful child. Please pretend like this surprises you. As a child I remember hearing the Bible verse, "God has not given us a spirit of fear . . ." and thinking, "Oh really???"  I wanted to stand right up in my pew and offer myself as an argument to the contrary, but that would have meant standing up, speaking up, and having everyone in church notice me, which was something to be avoided at all costs. Needless to say, I heard terms like "timid," "bashful," "introverted," "reserved," and "reticent." Because of my shyness my kindergarten teacher suggested my parents hold me back a year from starting first grade and they agreed.

Being shy, I naturally was always very internal and began to develop a very rich fantasy life. I also developed a deep love of reading. The books I found myself drawn to tended to be those of kids who are resourceful and brave. The first series that had a profound impact on me were C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia. I adored these books and read them and reread them and reread them. One of the quotes that stuck with me was when Aslan told Edmund, the youngest brother who betrays them all, "You doubt your value. Don't run from who you are." Wise words.

Yet I have done just that for years. 

Psychiatrists say that we basically make decisions based on two factors: either fear or love. How much of my life has been determined by fear? 

So I find myself at a point in my life where I don't want those words (shyness, timidity, fearful, bashful, introverted, etc) to define me. I don't want them to be the epitaph on my gravestone. Nor do I want those words to be those things that I model to my boys. What am I teaching them through my actions, which they pay closer attention to than my words?

Fear or courage?

Worldly comfort or compassion for the world?

Love or loneliness?

Anger or tenderness?

Uncertainty or trust?

As I ponder my answers to just those few questions, of which there are so many more, I decided that this year was going to be one of change. The phrase that instantly rose up in my spirit was:

Live bravely. Love fiercely.

And I do believe that bravery and love are intertwined. Certainly true courage involves us being vulnerable enough to put ourselves out there in love. 

And how do I love others? 

Do I carefully measure my love out in spoons or do I pour it out in buckets?  How would my kids answer that question about myself?

Mother Teresa said, "Intense love does not measure - it just gives."

That is how I want to be. 

I know love does not have to be extraordinary, but it does have to be genuine. We see this kind of deep, intentional love in Jesus and that's why he told us, "Even as I have loved you that you also love one another."

That's why this year will be one of living bravely and loving fiercely.  

How do I go about that? 

To be honest, all of the path is not clear to me and it doesn't have to be. 

Not yet. 

I just have to trust God when He asks me to move. One of those steps we have already taken in beginning classes to become foster parents. This, as I have said, was something I always swore I would never do because it was "too hard." I said I couldn't do it because it would be too difficult to become attached to a child and then have to give them back. I'm sure God must've been shaking His head and chuckling, "Is that what he really thinks?" But God has a sense of humor and I have come to realize that to love someone, truly love them, is to love sacrificially. This is not about me, it's about simply loving a child when they need to be loved the most. God has led me to this place. Not everyone will be brought to such a place. 

This is just part of the move from timidity to boldness, from fear to love for me.

Am I scared?

"YES!" (The all caps is not hyperbole).

But I will Carpe Diem in Christ!

In Narnia, one of the phrases I loved most was, "Aslan is on the move!" And I want that to be true in my life. I want Aslan to be on the move through me in this world. 

I am going to stop offering my tidy excuses that are filled with my hesitancy and reluctance.  When I stand before God do I want Him to look at a life filled with excuses or with loving others?

I am tired of reading about adventures and I want to live one. I want to take that journey which starts with just being open to the possibility. That's why I am praying, "Whatever you want me to be, wherever you want me to go I will, Lord." I have my belief and that is enough. As Reepicheep the mouse from Prince Caspian and Voyage of the Dawn Treader, said, "We have nothing, if not belief."  So belief is where we start. Belief that we can trust in a God who loves us with all tenderness to guide us because when He does, He will take us somewhere that is beautiful and filled with joy. 

Again, I don't know what living bravely and loving fiercely will look like, but I open and willing. Are you?

If you, too, want to "Live bravely. Love fiercely" this year, please let me know. We can do this together and encourage each other in whatever and wherever God so leads us. 

I know I already have some internal nudgings about some steps we are to take and I will blog about this year and this journey. Hope you will not only read about, but also reach out and do the same. 

Can you imagine how not only our own lives, the lives of our family, but also of our community will change if we step out of our comforts and comfort zones to truly live bravely and love fiercely?

I'll end with this quote from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe: Some journeys take us far from home. Some adventures lead us to our destiny.

So, who's with me?

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