mask with courage. i told myself along the way that a person who was courageous never showed fear or weakness. they could always handle anything, and if they couldn't, they pretended they could. this false belief has caused me much heartache over the years and has prevented me from connecting with people in a real and vulnerable way. i built up a castle of protection around my heart, no one could hurt me, no one could get in. it wasn't until forces collided in my life that i realized it was a lie. that "being strong all the time" is really bondage. that sometimes courage is being brave enough to fall apart. being brave enough to say i'm not ok. to say i need help. to say i need YOU. i found myself in the last year at the stunning realization that i had believed a lie about myself all of my life. the lie that i have to be strong. that i cannot show weakness. that people won't love me or respect me or want me if i fall apart. what i have found in my brokenness, is that when you fall apart is when those around you have a chance to shine. when you are so desperate and despondent that you can't even ask for help is when the people that love you step up. in early August of 2012 i essentially had a nervous breakdown brought on by extreme crisis. i have never been in a darker place in my life. my friends rallied around me in a way i could not properly put to paper. they held me, they let me cry, they let me yell, they let me cuss, they were there. they saw me sink to a place they had never imagined they would find me in and they came through. in the first few weeks of that time, six of my closest friends and my mother asked me to meet them at our local house of prayer so they could pray over me. they were so worried about me. as i literally laid on that floor, curled in a ball, sobbing as they prayed and spoke truth over me, i had an incredible vision. i was standing in the middle of war. bullets were flying around me and the enemy was close. i was curled in fetal position, too weak to even stand, much less fight. my friends were standing in a circle around me, facing out. they were fighting the battle for me when i was too weak to defend myself. sometimes courageous is being willing to curl up in a ball and be honest about where you are. as i walk through this journey, i'm learning more and more about who i am and who i'm not. i can be strong, but i don't have to. i can be courageous while still being scared. some days that just means that i keep putting one foot in front of another while praying that the fear doesn't overtake me. some days it means i can smile and know it will be ok. but either way, i know now that i have a net. i'm not hanging off of this cliff alone. i can be courageous... and if i can't there are those that would be for me. and that makes all the difference in the world.
1 Corinthians 16:13 Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. Do everything with love.