The Small Thing That's Making Me Brave
Everyone wants to be brave.
I do. I pray for bravery and courage all of the time. There is something so heroic and undeniably beautiful about it. It’s in all the great stories. When the prince conquers the dragon and saves the princess. When the “awkward” girl who really isn’t that awkward finally stands up to the mean girls. When they run out to battle risking everything and end up saving the life of their best friend. I would argue that everyone secretly desires those moments that challenge us to face our fears, to protect, to fight for, to love until it hurts, and quite often to love even though it hurts.
Everyone wants to be brave.
I used to think I needed to move to the big bad city for this kind of excitement. The movies portray these moments of bravery so vividly in magical, faraway places. And there is truth in that. Opportunities for epic bravery can be found everywhere, but most especially in places that seem somewhat larger than life. But that’s not necessarily the bravery that’s been moving my heart recently. I think the bravery and courage that comes up in the seemingly insignificant circumstances, in the somewhat hidden places, from the heroes who will never be addressed as such, that is the kind of bravery that’s captivating me. This is the kind of bravery that’s reminding me of Christ, who chose those exact stipulations to teach us all how to love and be loved.
“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” These are the words Nathanael spoke in disbelief when he heard that our “Savior” was from a nowhere town full of nothing worthy of greatness. I’ve prayed with this verse over and over again because there is so much about this doubt that I (and most normal humans) can relate with. “Can anything good really come out of this hard situation?” “Can a light really shine through all of this darkness?” “Can I really find beauty in something I find so ordinary?”
The answer to all of these questions is yes. It’s very simply yes. God the Father knew exactly what he was doing when he placed His son in the lives of a holy, simple woman and a humble, ordinary man in a town no one thought twice about. Even from the very beginning he was teaching us to see how much bravery, and therefore love, is required in the seemingly insignificant circumstances that turn out to be exactly the opposite of insignificant. He is teaching us that it is in those hidden places and through those unknown heroes that our lives are being changed. Because in their quiet courage, selfless love is being born and multiplied.
This summer I’ve been given a huge gift in the form of a small town. Quite literally in the middle of nowhere Nebraska, I’ve learned firsthand so much of what I’ve written above. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first. Why was I so pulled to the fields and fields of corn and the people who spend every single day making sure it grows? Why did the way they interacted with each other stir my heart? Why was the little church so beautiful? Why was the excitement of a mother and her son grabbing their guns to go on a spur of the moment hunt beating every big, sparkly adventure I’d had before?
I couldn’t help but fall in love with their way of life. It was so simple, but not easy. It was so good, but not safe.
It made me think about that famous quote from “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe”. They are talking about Aslan, the lion who ultimately represents God. Two little girls are asking if he is safe. And Mr. Beaver responds,
“Who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Everyone wants to be brave. Maybe we all desire this because deep down we all know that we were not made for things to be comfortable and easy. Despite popular belief, a life with Christ is not those things at all. It isn’t safe. Suffering still happens, battles are still lost, and sometimes you don’t catch the coon that’s wreaking havoc in your garden.
I think that family and those friends I met in that small town live a life that demonstrates this truth so beautifully. Their life isn’t safe, but it’s so good.
I was captivated by the corn because of the endless green, the sky blue that complimented it, and the brown dirt that offered a firm foundation. There was an order to it all. And I think because of its clear order, I was left with a freeing sigh of relief.
I was moved by the people because of their genuine love for each other. The friends were family and the family were friends and I got lost in the beautiful confusion of who was who.
I was struck by the church because it’s littleness only left room to illuminate our Lord.
And I felt free to drop everything and run out the door with them because we were a team on a mission to catch the notorious culprit of broken flower pots. What a time to be alive! It was my “conquer the dragon” moment.
And it was all so good.
Everyone wants to be brave. Everyone wants to embark on their great adventure.
I’ve learned that we start meeting those desires by putting our hearts fully into our current circumstances, by seeing the beauty of things unseen, and by recognizing the heroes that remain unnoticed in our lives and learning from them.
Here’s to you, small town Nebraska. I love you so very much!