Today marks the 100th day of being brave.
And what I’ve learned about bravery, where I’ve seen it show up in my life over these last 100 days is no where near what I expected when #100DaysToBraveSummer began back on Memorial Day.
I thought being brave would mean launching a successful blog – where I wouldn’t beat myself up for not posting regularly and focusing more on spreading truth that amassing large numbers of likes and followers.
It wasn’t until about Day 50 that I realized that wasn’t bravery at all. That was selfish, selfish, selfish ambition. And it was a wall I’d put up between myself and Truth.
I’ve spent so much of my life pretending and performing, the typical enneagram 3 nonsense of wanting to be accepted by all and appear to have everything totally together. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago, when I also started doing Beth Moore’s The Quest Bible study that God took a sledgehammer to those walls.
In the first week of The Quest, Beth writes this:
“Over and over Scripture suggests this: God, our Maker, Savior, Redeemer and King, wants interaction with His prized creation even in all our flaws and frailties and doubts and failures. And not just interaction. He wants engagement. And not just engagement. He wants intimacy. With you. Not who you wish you were or act like you are in front of spectators. You.”
Y’all remember reading A Scarlet Letter in high school? Because Hester Prynne had a child out of wedlock, she had to wear a scarlet A on her chest for “adultery.”
Over the years, I’ve pinned on scarlet letters – some given to me by others, some self proclaimed. There’s I for independent, H for hardworking, B for Baylor Bear (duh), S for sass, L for loyal and G for good. Add to the mix N for Not enough as I daily struggle with the comparison game. F for Fake. E for Exhausted.
There’s so much there to unpack, but G is what’s been nailed on. The others, mostly, have been applied with a thumbtack or the always handy Command strip or some tape.
In my journey to being brave, the G had to come off.
When it comes to the world, there’s a scale of goodness. We all view sins like they’re different sizes, different amounts. You can be good enough. You can also be bad but not needing to go behind bars.
And that’s how I would come into my time with Jesus every day. I was good enough. I knew, though, that nothing could get me into heaven except Jesus. So you see where there was a problem. Which was it? Was I good enough to get things done on my own and be good enough to only need a little drop of grace?
“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the win, take us away.”
– Isaiah 64:6
I’ve always known what that polluted garment employed the imagery of – if you don’t know, look it up. But I’ve had that G on for years, I understood what that verse meant. But I was performing for the One who created me and numbered the hairs on my head. The Truth didn’t seep through the cracks of the wall.
Brave meant the wall needed to come down. And with the wall, the G had to go away.
When I finally realized this, shame entered in. It weighed upon me so heavily that I couldn’t sleep at night. Satan never sleeps, y’all. (But he should). And he was yelling lie after lie after lie at me. About how my reality is not how I portray myself to be. And because of that, I wouldn’t be accepted once I confessed the truth. And that there was no hope to get out of the mess I’ve found myself in. Because who was I to be able to be free? Nobody. Just some pretender that has to act a certain way to be accepted.
That shame stole my joy. Sure, I still acted like my usual chipper self. I forgot to add P to my list of letters that I’m wearing. I’m a pretender/performer.
A week ago, all of my studies that I’m doing when I spend time with the Lord – 100 Days to Brave, The Quest and SheReadsTruth.com – came to a head.
I was being led to what it meant to really be brave and what that means for me. And then in The Quest, Beth Moore pointed to Luke 7 and the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with the alabaster flask. Verse 44 rattled me.
“Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman?'”
Earlier in the passage, Simon was convinced that if Jesus knew her character, he would send her away.
It was then that it hit me – Jesus looks past all the letters I wear, the act I put on daily and the walls I’ve put up – and He sees me. The real me. The imperfect sinner. Yet he doesn’t scoff, wrinkle up his nose and send me off.
“And he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.'”
– Luke 7:48
And then, these words jumped off the page from the SheReadsTruth.com devotional for the day:
“I’ve been walking with the Lord for more than two decades now, and the strangest thing has happened. The longer I know Him, and the more familiar I become with His Word, the uglier my heart looks. … When it comes to holiness, there is no bell curve. … It has taken my entire life, but my good girl facade has cracked. Following the rules doesn’t make me righteous, but the good news of the gospel keeps picking me up and dusting me off. … Facing up to the reality of my sin hurts. But when I wrestle with the gospel, the gospel always wins. Being good is not enough, but the thoroughly sufficient grace of a good and loving God is.”
That’s when the G came off. And the walls came tumbling down.
Twelve hours after that moment, confession came. As did the tears. Because at that point, there was no wall to hide behind, no act to play, no letter to define me. Vulnerability.
And as the tears finally dried up, the weight of the shame I had been carrying for weeks was lifted.
“If you bear the responsibility for your worthiness to traverse with God and try to maintain an A+ in righteousness, you will collapse. You may stay steady on your feet long enough to assume some credit, but soon your knees will buckle and the credit will topple from your hands. It’s too weighty to carry.”
– Beth Moore, The Quest
That is brave.
Admitting my imperfections. To stop striving independently and lean into the Savior who chose to rescue me.