Posts filed under Hope is Hard

Freedom to be Small

Freedom to be small

 

I don’t know about you, but to me it feels like everybody is trying to be somebody these days. 

Including me. 

A few months ago, I attended a writers conference and sat around a table with women with book deals, podcasters, and women’s discipleship pastors at large well known churches. Over a two day period it kept happening. I’d sit down to eat and we would go around the table saying why we’re all there, and eventually it would be my turn and I meekly say, “Um, I’m just a mother and a freelance writer slash kinda blogger.” Everyone was kind and no one judged me for not having an “official” platform, but as the important people rubbed elbows I walked away defeatedly singing “One of these things is not like the others.” 

There is nothing like feeling like the biggest nobody amongst a group of known and loved somebodies. Frustrated and small, I cried out to God, "WHY AM I HERE?" but in that moment the Spirit simply whispered, “It’s ok to be small.

About a month later I received a few inquiries about “creating a brand” and “growing my platform” with the promise of hopefully landing a book deal. At first it was flattering as my pride grew. "See I am somebody!" I told myself. But after some time and prayer the whole thing felt disingenuous, like I was trying to force something rather than let the Lord grow something. So again, I walked away from those conversations headed down a different unknown path, again feeling defeated. 

And in the quiet I heard, “It’s ok to pursue small.” 

I tell you all this not to brag (um no), but rather to share with you something completely counter cultural that I’m constantly learning and relearning. This world has told us to pursue our dreams, to go out there and be somebody! Find a stage, create a platform, and seek fame/affirmation at any cost. But what I’ve learned in the last few years is that this desire to be seen is poisonous. And I can say that because I have fallen prey to it time and time agian. 

There have been many seasons when I bought the lie that the breadth of my audience was what determined the faithfulness and effectiveness of my work. I have spent seasons of my life writing with the goal of “getting seen” rather than being faithful, and the last few years of my life have been so sweet because the Lord has given me the freedom to pursue the small, the unseen. I’m not saying it’s easy or even that I do it well (because I don’t), but I am slowly learning the value of the unseen, the small. 

I’m learning that showing up to a Bible study and making space for other people to lead has just as much (if not more) value as being the main event. I’m discovering that discipleship can look like having the next generation over to my house while I’m in sweatpants and chasing three small kids, instead of speaking from a stage. I have learned the hard way that being a beacon of restoration can look like serving overseas and giving up a life of comfort, but it can also look like doing life faithfully here by serving your family, forgiving your spouse, and serving your local church. And praise Jesus, I finally understand that when I serve a refugee or the poor or marginalized, it doesn’t have to be broadcasted all over social media.

These lessons are hard for those of us with strong leadership/type A personalities. We long to be seen, to lead, to conquer the world! But before anyone can lead, we must first embrace that God has called us to the unseen, upside-down life that the Gospel brings. He calls us to take up our cross and follow Jesus, the one who has already conquered the world. 

Does that mean that we forsake our personalities and callings? No.

Does that mean we never lead or pursue big dreams? No.

But it does give us freedom to pursue the small. To forsake what the world tells us is grand and cling to the one thing that matters: Jesus. 

There is freedom in knowing you don’t have to be anybody because Somebody paid it all for everybody. 

There is freedom in quietly pursuing the disciplines of life and ministry without pursuing man’s praise or approval. 

There is freedom in not looking left or right at others as they pursue their callings, and just sticking to the course He has called you to.  

There is freedom in being a nobody instead of being obsessed with becoming a somebody.

There is freedom to be small. 

Hoping with you and cheering you on in the most ordinary small things,

Brittany

Posted on June 23, 2017 and filed under Culture, Hope is Hard.

Hope is Hard :: Joy Comes

 

Yesterday I experienced my first big West Texas storm. Winds reaching 60-65 mph, rain, and hail rolled through our yards, neighborhoods, and little town. Our home is situated south of our city in the flatlands between two plateaus. Evidently, it’s not that uncommon in the spring for tornadoes and high winds to gust through.

As day turned to night, I stood in our backyard surrounded by a beautiful sky full of lightening, swooning over its grandness before the rain and winds came. My family thought I had lost my mind, standing in the darkness waiting for the storm. But I stood amazed with windblown hair and eyes on the sky.

Isn’t it crazy how something so beautiful can also be so damaging? 

The clouds rolled closer and as a gust of wind came and the rain started pelting, I took shelter inside.

Just as quickly as the storms came, they left.

This morning we woke up to a beautiful blue sky full of the fluffiest white clouds. The grass and newly budding trees appeared extra green. No damage was done to our home, but I’m hearing scuttle about a few cars damaged from hail and a few trampolines escaping yards and landing in others.

Isn’t that a lot like life?

Storms come, storms go. Sometimes they leave their mark, sometimes we go unscathed. But when the morning comes, the grass usually appears greener, the sky bluer, the air extra crisp. 

As I sit here reflecting on the storm and the beauty of a spring day, I am reminded of Lamentations 3. If you know me well, you know this passage is never far from my heart or mind. I love how the beginning of the chapter starts with a storm, with affliction, but we see a man who proclaims God’s faithfulness in the storm. 

Talking about affliction the writer says:

“My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him.’” 

And then Psalms 30 says this,

 “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

You see, I think I’m drawn to watching storms roll in and out for a reason. Like the man in Lamentations 3, I too have seen affliction. I have walked (more like limped) through life’s storms. I know what it is to be damaged by winds, by the hail that life throws at us. But when the morning came, the damage was still there, but so was our God’s faithfulness. So even in the face of oncoming storms I stand in darkness proclaiming, “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will hope in Him.” Let come what may, but my feet are rooted, arms raised in praise, ready to boast in a faithful God amidst the storm.

Today, you might be in the middle of a storm. Wind and hail might be pelting your soul. My friend, hold fast to hope. His mercies are new every morning. Storms come and they go, but the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.

Your morning will come.

This storm will pass.

And in the light of a new day, even if trees are uprooted and trampolines are moved, the grass will appear a bit greener and the sky a bit bluer.

Cheering you on,
Brittany

Posted on April 9, 2017 and filed under Hope is Hard, Suffering.

Hope is Hard :: Hope Heals

hopeheals

Preface :: Just a reminder to those hitting up this post first... This post is a part of a series over at www.HopeIsHard.com. If you want to hear the WHY behind why I'm posting over there (& then reposting over here) check out this post and it'll all make sense. ;) 

This is my second post for Hope is Hard and it was an especially hard one for me to write. I pray that if nothing else, those who have experienced the physical effects of trauma will rest in knowing (a) You are not alone, and (b) You aren't broken beyond repair. Our God is healer.

Read more below...

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“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” – Nelson Mandela

 Fear can be paralyzing.

There was a season when big life altering decisions were around the corner and I was stuck. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t make a decision.  A very-bad-no-good-ugly-thing had happened to me and I was afraid of taking a risk on hope. I felt broken, with no hope of repair.

So at night, I would lay awake with my mind racing. I couldn’t stop making a list of all the pro’s and con’s, the potential hurts, the what-if’s. I was so driven by fear that eventually due to lack of sleep, I started getting heart palpitations and had to go visit my doctor. Physically, my body was experiencing a surge in stress driven by hurt and fear, and it started to alter how I responded to the world. The typically laid back Brittany became anxious. I had irrational fears. My ability to accurately assess a situation went out the door. And as for hope, it wasn’t dead, but there wasn’t much room for it to breath around my suffocating anxiety.

Praise the Lord for godly counselors and doctors! Because of their wisdom, my body started sleeping again. And after we got that sorted out, I was able to start processing life through a healthier filter, not a fear-based one.

Hope finally had room to grow, but fear had to die in order for hope to breathe again. So how did I get there? It wasn’t a quick fix, but here are my 3 tips to anyone wrestling with the physical effects of hopelessness.

1. Talk to a Biblical counselor and potentially medical doctor. I remember sitting in my counselor’s office talking about the tightening of my chest and the rapid beating of my heart. My hands fiddled with a tissue, while I confessed my body’s shortcomings. I was so embarrassed that my body couldn’t handle the stress I was under. With kind eyes, he looked at me and gave me the best advice I could have ever received. His wisdom was God’s grace to me in a very dark season. He helped me see that I wasn’t “less-than” for asking for help, that it was ok to go see a doctor to address my lack of sleep. Perhaps if we focused on me getting physically healthy, we could deal with the emotional trauma later.

I saw a counselor for almost two years, and it was in the hard work done in those sessions and at home that lead me to hope again. If you have experienced trauma or brokenness and are trapped by fear, let me plead with you to ask people into those broken spaces. There is no shame in getting help from licensed professionals. They are God’s gift to a broken world; please utilize them.

2. Take care of your physical needs. Sometimes, triage is necessary. It doesn’t mean we ignore the broken leg, rather it simply means we take a moment to fix the gaping wound in our hearts before we address the other hurts. If you aren’t sleeping, eating, drinking lots of water, or exercising, may I suggest you start there. If your body is physically drained by a lack of hope or the physical drain of trauma, start with making sure you are taking care of your body. Go for a walk, stay away from alcohol and caffeine, get some rest, and choose foods that fuel and heal.

3. Hope, even when the world tells you not to. As believers, we have access to a holy God who is in the business of redeeming. It literally is his name. Jehovah-Rapha, Our God is healer. There will always be brokenness this side of glory, but our hope isn’t in a pain-free existence. Our hope is in a God who is big and loving enough to offer redemption to a broken world. And if He’s big enough to offer salvation to all of mankind, there’s nothing in your life so royally screwed up that He is unable to redeem it. There is nothing too broken, no person too far gone, no wound too ugly. Never stop hoping. And if you do, look to Jesus and remember what He has done for you and let it be enough for that day, that moment.

“Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3

My dear friend, never lose hope. He shines brightly on our darkest nights.

You should know that not all stories have happy endings, but mine does. When I physically got healthy, I was able to make a decision rooted in hope instead of fear. I tossed “What-if’s” to the side and chose to love and forgive BIG. God restored some broken places in my life that the world would tell me could never be whole again. And it all started by choosing to hope again, choosing that my life decisions wouldn’t be rooted in fear, but in love.

And I feel propelled to tell you this, even if I get hurt again, even if my worst “what-if’s” come true, I’m so glad I chose hope. There are no regrets when you choose to fight fear and live basking in light of redeeming love.

Cheering you on,

Posted on March 27, 2017 and filed under Hope is Hard, Suffering.