For the past few years every time January rolls around I pick a word to be mine for the next 12 months. It's like my yearly mantra, but in the simplicity of one word. 2013 was STILL, 2014 was PRESENT, and 2015 was BRAVE.
I was hit with the word on my way to work on New Years Eve of 2014. It was an overwhelming rush of this feeling that told me "this, this is the word I have for you." It started off really exciting because I didn't even have to think and try to put all my human effort into deciding what I wanted for my year, it was just there for me waiting for a moment of silence so that I would hear a glimpse of what was in store for 2015. Once the excitement of the realization had passed I really started thinking about what it would mean for me to be brave. Bravery isn't something that I would have normally associated myself with.
I like safety.
I like the known.
I like quiet.
I like my comfort zone.
Being brave meant I couldn't continue being who I was or continue going the direction I was headed (kind of literally actually because I was on my way to my day job that I would resign from a couple months later). I'm not much of a risk taker or the kind of person who can naturally "let go and let God." I tend to overthink all of my choices to the point of never doing anything. I was less than stoked for the year that could unfold for me if it held true to the word I heard whispered in my ear during that December drive. Thankfully I mustered up just enough trust to accept that word as mine for the year. This could be my mantra and I could survive.
Later that day I jotted down these words:
"It's going to be [a year] with big changes and chances and I already have all that I need to do the things I'm called to do. I just have to lose the fear. I'm being called out beyond the shore into the waves. I will be no longer building sandcastles on the beach. It's into the ocean for me. I'm being called to be brave. "
Since I am a beach bum at my core I was already obsessed with Oceans by Hillsong. The line "your grace abounds in deepest waters" kept running through my head this past year. It's rare to grow when we're sitting on the shore, content and comfortable. We never seem to stretch who we are or challenge what we are capable of when all that we do is dip our toes in the water. If you just barely touch your toes to the water and it send shocks of cold up your legs it's the natural reaction to take a step back and rethink getting in neck deep. When you hear people walking past you talking about the sharks and the jellyfish and everything else that could possibly out be there in what we have labeled the unknown it's so easy to lay back down, stretch out on your towel, and just listen to the waves. In some moments though, moments like that day when I knew without a doubt that I would be called to be brave time and time again in 2015 (and who am I kidding, the rest of my life if I'm willing), we hear those waves and we know that the rhythmic surge of water onto the beach is not the whole ocean. The crest and the crash isn't that wave's whole life. What you can see from the beach is only a portion of what's out there and until you cast aside the fear of what could happen to you if you left the place that you know there on the sand, maybe, just maybe, you could begin to grasp that there is so much more that the waves are experiencing and you too can experience. But, it takes courage to run out into the water and embrace the cold until your body begins to adjust. It takes daring to tell yourself "yes, there might be some really scary and possibly even dangerous things out there, but it's better to go out and experience that body of water and possibly encounter some things that you don't want to, than to live your life on the shore and never truly encounter the ocean."
It takes a whole lot of being brave. Not just to run till your neck deep in ocean, but to stay when you start to doubt your decision.
I tried writing out a list of the times that I had to be brave this past year, but it seemed never ending. There's been simple things like getting a little bit more personal over here on the blog, or planning a trip to Costa Rica with Wil all on our own.
There's also been the serious things like listening to the call that Wil and I are going to be going down a job path that we weren't planning on (no, we're not saying goodbye to photography! It's something that we're going to end up doing as well) or leaving our really good day jobs that we had working for other people and starting working completely for ourselves.
I've learned that sometimes you being brave means waiting. We've had so many plans and projects that we wanted to make happen in 2015 that, for various reasons, we have had to make the brave choice to step back and wait for the right time.
Being brave has also meant not being afraid to speak up for the oppressed, speaking my mind a little more, and sometimes it's even meant not being afraid of letting silence be silence.
Most of all, being brave has meant trusting that living my life out in the ocean, waving at those on the shore and inviting them to join me, is exactly where we were designed to be.