My dear friend Rachel recently published a book whose themes are family, connection and courage. Knowing her as I do, I know that she writes from personal experience and about values to which she herself holds true. These are themes that are every bit as important to me too: what does it mean to show courage, not only in the extraordinary experiences of life, but also in the very ordinary moments?
(This is a fun photo from a wonderful holiday we shared with Rachel and her family in Morocco.)
Rachel and her crew recently relocated from Budapest to the United States, their passport nation. As anyone who has faced the challenge of 're-entry' knows, this sort of transition requires its own sort of bravery. Rachel kindly agreed to be a guest writer on the blog and here she shares her own experience of what it means to show up to your life with courage.
Today I am choosing to be every day brave.
What is every day brave, you ask? In essence, it means standing courageously in the face of great challenge. Believing that on the other side of fear lies something better, something greater. It means living with grit and determination and a steadfast hope ... every single day.
This past year has held tremendous changes for our family. With the addition of our daughter, we went from a family of three to four. We moved from Europe back to the US. I changed careers from a missionary to a novelist.
In a funny way, my life up to this year looked far more courageous than it does now. While living for 7 years in Europe, I gained over 35 new stamps in my passport. I lost my first pregnancy on the mission field and then birthed 2 children there. I hopped trains and buses and planes every couple of weeks. I made Budapest my home. It was a wild, wonderful, stressful, grace-filled life.
But this year has required a new level of bravery. This is the year God called us to move back to Seattle, to a city and country that felt more foreign to us than anywhere we had lived in Europe. We had grown comfortable with our expat lifestyle. The unknown felt more familiar than our own culture.
A 2 book contract opened the door for me to pursue my dream career as a women’s fiction writer. My husband’s parents developed serious health issues. These changes cemented our move. We went home – to a place we barely recognized, to a new career path full of challenges and a steep learning curve, to doing the hard work of building a new community and life. We were obedient but it was so very tough.
For the first month we held hands in the grocery store, overwhelmed by the choice of 20 kinds of tortillas, 12 varieties of apples stacked in gleaming pyramids. We didn’t know how to cope with the abundance, the excess. And I quickly found that I’d forgotten basic Seattle social cues, the cadence of conversation, what to share and what not to say. Too often I found myself sharing too much too soon only to be met with an uncomfortable smile and a stiff silence, even from good friends. I had to relearn the cultural rules of my home city, slowly, sometimes painfully. Every day required a choice. I gritted my teeth and smiled and chose perseverance and a steadfast hope over and over again. Some days I cried ... more than once.
In this past year of transition I have experienced so many marvelous open doors, acts of grace, and sheer miracles as we integrate once more into our home culture. I’ve also had my fair share of significant disappointments, challenges, and grief. But God has been faithful, and He has given me the chance to be faithful too.
With each challenge and disappointment, with each new day, I am given a choice. Will I buckle in the face of struggle and opposition and the tough stuff of life? Or will I do the good, hard work of being obedient, being courageous, being strong? As this life transition continues day by day, I choose to be every day brave.
What challenges are you facing right now in life? What does being every day brave mean to you?
You can find Rachel on Facebook. Do check out her most recent book, Becoming the Talbot Sisters, as well as her first novel, Ascension of Larks.