The Glorious Table is thrilled to welcome Annie F. Downs today. Annie is the author of Let’s All Be Brave (Zondervan, 2015) and Looking for Lovely (B&H, 2016).
We were never meant for a wimpy life. Now don’t hear me saying we weren’t meant for a simple life or a stay-at-home life or a famous life. There isn’t a right answer for what a brave life looks like. Just as God made you uniquely, your call to courage is unique as well. But believe me, it is a call. You are called to be brave. You are called to face whatever dragons come into your life and scale the mountains that show up in your view. It may be a literal mountain, a mountain of work, or a mountain of laundry, but it is your journey to walk. And you must walk it bravely. (I wrote a book about it, by the way, if you want to go deeper into what it means to be brave.)
But I think we were made for it.
Every hard yes, every difficult no, every moment of moving and shaking takes bravery. I’ve felt it in my life, way down deep in my bones, and I’ve seen it in a hundred lives around me.
To me these two things go hand in hand. One needs the other. You have to be brave to believe you are made on purpose— to go after your passions and walk in who you were made to be. When you believe God made you on purpose, you are willing to be brave because the root questions are already answered.
Am I enough? Yes, God made you on purpose.
Am I alone? No, God never leaves you. The Bible says He loves everything He makes, and He loves you unconditionally, so you are never alone.
If I mess up, if I fail, if things don’t go well, am I done? No, you are always loved, you are never alone, you are enough. So be brave, try the thing, trust that if you are pursuing God and going after a brave life, He can fix and sweep up and help you.
I’ve tried to make these truths real to me. They are not simple, but the level of difficulty comes in waves. Driving down to Brentwood and sitting in Jennifer’s office for the first time made me face these statements and ask myself how much I believed them. I was saying these things to audiences, talking about them with my friends, and writing them in books, but was I living them? If I’m supposed to be like this, if this is who I really am, why did I still hate me sometimes? If God made me on purpose, what’s with all the broken crazy?
And was I really willing to be brave and tell this woman counselor all the things that trouble me? Like, ALL of them? The stuff strangers knew from Twitter, the stuff friends knew from real-life conversations, the stuff no one knew but someone needed to?
Maybe that’s where healing comes from, I thought. Maybe being brave about my brokenness was going to bring healing. I would look for it and hope that was coming along.
Our first meeting went a little like this:
Her: “Hi Annie. Tell me about yourself.”
Me: “Oh, hello, everything is fine. My family is perfect. I am practically perfect. No one has ever hurt me; I haven’t hurt other people. I’m sure I don’t need to be here about anything except this one little sliver of my life—my broken crazy. It’s no one else’s fault—just my fault—and if you could fix me so I don’t kill this relationship with Matt, I would really appreciate it.” Ramble ramble ramble—I’m fine—ramble ramble.
And then I sat there and waited for the prescription, the short list of to-dos that would heal me and make me right again. One and done, I thought. Ten minutes of intros, half an hour of me explaining the broken crazy, twenty minutes of her fixing me, and we’d be good to go, an hour well spent.
I thought I needed to be repaired. But my need was significantly deeper than that, and that’s pretty much the first thing she told me. I actually needed to be rebuilt. And rebuilding anything that is over thirty years old takes a lot of time and strength and perseverance. All the nuts and bolts of my old ways of thinking were rusted in place, and what the broken crazy had done was reveal that the rust was eroding away at my soul, and it was time to tear down the old and build up the new.
I think that’s what Paul must have been talking about in his second letter to the Corinthians.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. (2 Cor. 5:17 NIV)
Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! (2 Cor. 5:17 msg)
A fresh start. A new creation. Yes and amen. I needed both of those things. But I also needed the strength of heart to hold on until God could complete the work He had begun.
Annie F. Downs is an author and speaker based in Nashville, Tennessee. Flawed but funny, she uses her writing to highlight the everyday goodness of a real and present God. While she loves writing books, blogs, articles, and thank-you notes, Annie also enjoys traveling around the world speaking to young women, college students, and adults. Annie is a huge fan of bands with banjos, glitter, her community of friends, boiled peanuts, and football games.