When Being Brave is the Only Choice

by | Mar 16, 2012 | Five Minute Friday

I was born with a loaf of brave under my arm that sustains me still.

Brave lifted me out of bed on a dark night, into my mother’s bedroom where the man she brought home, the one three times my size, staggered with his zipper over her passed out frame, like a chalk figure at the scene of an accident. With the authority of Moses to part the Red Sea and save our lives, I stood in flannel nightgown and pointed finger, telling him to leave my house NOW.

Brave stood next to me in line, when I picked my classes, signed the papers, moved into a dorm room and landed my first job. It pushes on the shoulders of fear when standing alone in the line of life decisions.

Brave is the sturdy passenger on road trips to places unknown.  As a teenager travelling twelve hundred miles to live with my Dad for a summer. Because maybe that would be better than living with the insecurity that comes with a bottle full of cheap wine. And after the degree, on the road between Tulsa and Phoenix with a car full of the past.  A city of dreams shimmers bright under the youthful tent of comfortable unhealthy.

Brave accompanied me down the aisle when fear said, “Don’t do it, what do you know about marriage” and my heart said, “This walk leads to the fullness of life.”

Brave held my hand when I gave birth the first time, and the second, and when someone said, “I’ll hire you to write,” and I had never done that before, been a writer.

Brave reminds me now, when the stats are slow and words seem to echo in an empty canyon some days. That I should write beyond this blog, to share a slice of my brave so you can eat it too.

In all of life, brave is the one who risked it all to save me. If He did this for me, said I can swallow that kind of life too, then what is it that I cannot do with that kind of brave?

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalm 91:1-2 ESV

Joining in community for Five Minute Friday with the one word prompt: Brave.

(Between making lunches, breakfast and waking sleepy kids, I am not exactly sure how long this took me to write but I do know it took me longer to upload than to write with slow internet this morning. Happy end of the week everyone!)

Tell me, how do you do brave?

And  linking with Gathered Thoughts with this quote prompt by Amanda at Life.Edited:

“I am responsible. Although I may not be able to prevent the worst from happening, I am responsible for my attitude toward the inevitable misfortunes that darken life. Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have — life itself.” Walter Anderson

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  1. tpohlkotte

    oh yes. you are brave. you are life. Loved this!! {so happy I can finally comment again on WP blogs 🙂 }

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Tara, I am so upset with WP but now I know why my comments seemed low yesterday. I read your post at 5:30 this morning, just lovely as usual. So glad to connect with you at the end of another week, think about you often and we really must see each other in RL. BTW, I don’t know if you said it and I forgot but what are you going to school for? Just curious. Thank you sweet friend.

      • tpohlkotte

        I know! We will make meeting happen. I’m going to school for psychology, with a business minor. If all things go as planned, I will finally have my degree in December, then on to more school to get further into psychology/counseling.

  2. SandraHeskaKing (@SandraHeskaKing)

    Oh my word, Shelly. I’ve swallowed every word–several times. Eaten your brave several times. You. Are. Beautiful.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Sandra, I couldn’t believe that all of these memories flashed through my mind when I closed my eyes to pray over that word brave. Oh my! I was so sleepy when I wrote it this morning, glad it seemed coherent to you. It’s all grace, beautiful grace!

  3. Leslie Durham

    Brave is the sturdy passenger on road trips to places unknown. I loved this line. On a major road trip to places unknown right now and I’m glad to realize I’m not alone. Love your blog. I’ve recommended it to several others. IKeep it up!!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Glad to be taking the journey with you Leslie. Thank you for reading and for sharing it on Facebook. It is truly grace that I met you at that wedding and that He is using the words on this blog to link us together. What an amazing God we follow!

  4. r.elliott

    final got it fixed myself…could not comment until right now…
    This is just heart wrenchingly(don’t think that is a real word) beautiful…brave you are…brave you are…blessings as you march forward…

    • Redemption's Beauty

      So glad you can comment again. I started to think maybe my writing stunk when so many of my tribe were silent! ha! Thank you Ro, love you so.

  5. Kim Jones

    That is truly beautiful! I also grew-up with a mother that sounds very like yours. I’m sorry. Life experiences do make us brave. You did a great job of using your words to put us all in those situations with you. And Lent is the perfect time to reflect of just how brave our Christ was as he waited to fulfill His obligation to us. Thank you for your words this moring! as I have been too wordy already! lol

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Kim thank you for that visual reminder of Christ waiting to fulfill His obligation. Your words pierce my heart in a good way. So glad to meet you through FMF.

  6. sandraheskaking

    I’m just back to test to see if this will link to my blog. Was it you who mentioned gravatar last night?

    • Redemption's Beauty

      No, it wasn’t me. Thanks Sandy. I am still trying to figure out how to use Delicious on my blog. Have you figured that out. I can’t get the link to posts I read to show up.

      • Sandra Heska King

        No, not yet. I need to re-do some stuff. And now I have to figure out how to link comments to my blog, because that doesn’t seem to be happening.

      • Sandra Heska King

        Sorry, just checking that it works now…

        • Redemption's Beauty

          Sandra, what exactly are you trying to do. You made me laugh awake this morning when I saw your comment.

    • Sandra Heska King

      Ha. Didn’t mean to hijack your blog. Note that in my earlier comment, you couldn’t click on my name and get to my blog. You can now, though. 😀

  7. Nancy

    Shelly, you have been far more brave than many women have had to be in an entire lifetime. It seems as though you had to become a writer so you could tell your stories and help others be brave.

    So happy to be back in comment world!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It was just what I had to do to survive and there was something in me that knew my life could be different. And yes, I think my message is “you are not your circumstances” as I write the stories of my life. I didn’t realize that my stories really were that different than anyone else’s but I am hearing Him affirm that they do matter and need to be shared for the sake of hope and healing and transformation. For me too. I am so glad you are back too. You are a treasure.

  8. kate

    Brave pushes on the shoulders of fear. Boy, I like that. So maybe the weight on my shoulders is a good one today…

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Kate, so nice to look around your place today and push your shoulders a bit toward bravery! Thanks for leaving a comment.

  9. Lisa

    Shelly, thank you for sharing your moments of bravery with us. You’re an inspiration. Kim Jones, you just took my breath away describing the bravery of Christ as He turned to meet His captors and face His journey of pain to the Cross….

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks Lisa, its been so nice to share conversation in our small group each week. So thankful to get to know you better.

  10. eil1een

    This is beautiful Shelly! This is brave. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Eileen, thank you and thanks for the mentions on twitter. You made me smile today after a week of wondering.

  11. Dea Moore

    No stats could validate that God has blessed you with a gift. Brave covered. Brave uncovers the Beauty of Redemption in a story that continues to be written. How beautiful it is!

    For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. (91:11-13)

    Thank you so much Shelly. (And for God prompting Lisa-Jo with this word: Brave)

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Brave uncovers the Beauty of Redemption in a story that continues to be written – this I will hold in my heart Dea. And thank you for your encouragement and belief in me. We all need someone on the sidelines telling us to keep going and you are that for me. A voice of encouragement and truth.

  12. simplystriving

    Oh how I loved this (and oh how I’m hoping my comment goes through–silly WP)
    You are brave, shelly. You own that word and carry it with pride. you’ve earned it.
    thank you for allowing me to see but a glimpse of moments you’ve had to carry…
    (and I’d be honored to hold your words in my hands!)
    hugs to you!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Sorry you have had trouble with WP Nikki. And I can’t express to you what a pleasure it is to do this with writing gig with you. Your encouragement is such a blessing. Reaching my arms through over to you and giving you a bear hug. Can you feel it?

  13. Amanda @wandering

    Oh how powerful. Brave as a person with us in each trial.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks Amanda. Nice to meet you here, appreciate your leaving a comment.

  14. Theresa Horton Miller

    Thank you for your vulnerability and being real. Oh, yes, that right there is brave!
    “Brave reminds me now, when the stats are slow and words seem to echo in an empty canyon some days. That I should write beyond this blog, to share a slice of my brave so you can eat it too.” This resonated because it’s where I’m at…to have the courage to write beyond the blog. Thank you for your words. They are beautiful!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Theresa, it is nice to know that we stand on this threshold together of moving out. And maybe we can link arms and jump together and brush each other off when it feels gritty and hard. So appreciate your kind words.

  15. Dawn@Dawnings

    Oh my, Shelly. Just oh my. That you didn’t fall into fear, what a saving grace. I praise the Lord for your testimony, and the beautiful, brave way you tell it.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Dawn, I guess I just knew that any other option meant an unfulfilled, sad life and I didn’t want that. I had already observed what that looked like and knew it could be different. Thank you for being here and leaving your thoughts.

  16. Fran Keown

    I do brave with God’s love and strength. Shelley, how can I tell you how much I enjoy your Redemtion’s Beauty. Also, how sorry I am for your past experiences. My favorite memories of you and Marcia, that wondeful Christmas, in my mind forever. I once also had problems and issues about not having a father until God really showed and convinced me that he was the only father that I needed.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Aunt Fran, so happy you are reading along and I know you are sorry. That memory is one of my favorites too, a bit of normal in the midst of dysfunction. And yes, he is all we need and I am so glad you know that.

  17. Annie

    Brave as a companion, and how brave you’ve been. Beautiful.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks Annie. Really enjoyed visiting your blog today. Amazing how one word can join a whole community around the world, isn’t it?

  18. Jean Wise

    This is brave and beautiful and fragile and inspiring – all in one. Thank you!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      And the fact that I wrote it in the early morning hours before my eyes or mind were fully adjusted Jean, that is truly an illustration of grace! Thank you so much for the mention on Twitter. I am so humbled by the amount of shares and tweets this story got. God is saying something through that as well.

  19. tanya@truthinweakness

    wow . . . thank you so much for sharing a piece of your soul with us, shelly.
    as for how i do brave? well, not very well, admittedly. i was unfortunately born with a loaf of fear under my arm that haunts me still. but chain by chain, He is breaking the bondage & offering me delicious tastes of glorious freedom in Him.

    have a blessed weekend, my friend, & thx again for sharing — & inspiring!
    – tanya

    • Redemption's Beauty

      You know my family avoids risk taking, stays in the safe places of life mostly, unlike my husbands family. But maybe we learn about how we don’t want to live as much as how we do want to live by those that mentor us through daily life. I think that I grew up with a lot of fear because that is how life was modelled to me but something inside told me I didn’t have to live that way and then my husband, he has been such a great role model regarding living in freedom. I am thankful for all of it. It makes me who I am today. So nice to meet you Tanya.

  20. C.Allyn

    A shadow. This means that you stand engulfed in the presence of the person who stands beside you, with you. Not necessarily hidden, protected until the moment you both step into the light, together.
    Brave is not a word I have used but see with certainty that this has been a very big portion of your life Shelly
    Patient is more of what hear especially with regard to the adoption.
    Brave will come when we take the plane to Africa and bring him home to be the son, the child we have always wanted.
    Then, I will write and seek wisdom from your bravery.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Celeste, I honestly never even considered myself brave until I wrote this. I guess you can call that an epiphany! Can’t wait to hear about your son when you bring him home. I am praying.

  21. kd sullivan

    You are brave! When I grow up I want to be as brave as you are. I wish I could erase the pain in your life, but I suspect that your writing wouldn’t be so deep and that your experience with a Savior wouldn’t be so wide if you hadn’t lived the life you’ve lived.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh my goodness Kim, I honestly never even considered myself brave until today. I guess I just didn’t know how to live any other way. And yes, I do agree with all you say and I think you have some great discernment.

  22. Laura

    Your writing is beautiful and I can tell you are brave. Between your post and the comment on my blog you have had many reasons to be brave. I wonder…where else will you write?
    Thanks for stopping be.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Laura, I don’t know but I am listening as I pray and wait.

  23. Amy @ Little Adventures

    This is amazingly beautiful and brave and honest and real!!!!!! Thank you for sharing! you are indeed brave to your core!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Amy, thanks sweet lady. It feels a bit strange to be called brave but I guess I am.

  24. Heather from CT

    Beautiful, Shelly!

  25. Heather Kopp at SoberBoots.com

    Shelly, this is SO amazing and beautiful! Wow. I’m speechless. Brave is you. So glad I found your blog and you found mine. What a blessing! You are such a stunning writer. How do you live with yourself?

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Heather, you are too kind. I am so glad to link arms with you across our blogs, what a gift. And I laughed out loud at your last question. Hilarious!

  26. Denise J. Hughes

    Shelly, your stories move me. They’re real and raw, and I am so glad for the day you picked up a pen. Sharing with others our Redeemer and the beauty He creates from ashes is the best story of all to tell. And you tell yours so well. {HUGS}

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Denise, it is surreal that I even picked up a pen at all. I never thought of being a writer until someone offered me a writing job five years ago. She hired me on instinct and I am so grateful she did. Thanks so much for you encouragement, it really does mean a lot to this girl who still feels inadequate among so much talent.

  27. delramey

    Do what Brave is telling you to do again Shelly. Keep that writing gift within you stirred up!
    Psalm 91 is music to my ears and sweet consolation to my heart.
    Have a wonderful weekend friend!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Debra, my heart stands at attention when I read your comments. You seem to have a keen ear to the voice of the Spirit that I hear when you come here. I think God is using you to speak to me in a way that you may not even realize. Thank you so much for your sensitivity and encouragement.

  28. Elizabeth

    You are brave! This reminds me of one of my favorite verses, Deuteronomy 31:7-8.
    I need to meditate on those words much as my kids leave for Ghana. I sure appreciate your kind words and prayers.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thinking of you Elizabeth and my heart stands brave for you too.

  29. kathrynfletcher

    Shelly, this is one of my favorites from you! So blessed by your honesty in sharing your story.

  30. Debbie Petras (@Panda444)

    You hit a cord with so many of us on this one! Yes, you are brave. It’s amazing how life experiences we may not have chosen impact us. And yet, God saved you and loves you so much. It’s wonderful that He can take the hurts and injuries and bind them up as only He can do. Your writing is so transparent and from the heart. I had to reread this one several times.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Blessings and love,

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I am astounded I guess, by how many it did strike a cord with. Perhaps the stuff that we take for granted about who we are is a gift to someone else. So glad you are part of these conversations Debbie, your words encourage and inspire.

  31. Lyla Lindquist

    Shelly, keep slicing from the loaf of brave. Even when, perhaps, there is another choice. You strengthen and embolden others with your brave words. Keep writing them. Please.

    (And, if I can say so, you create powerful images with your words. 😉 )

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Lyla, your words mean so much to me here. You just can’t imagine how much. I still find myself intimidated by the masses of writers out there and because I have never had any formal training, classes, workshops, etc. I often feel at a disadvantage because it is all instinctual and self taught. Often feel like maybe I am missing something that everyone else already knows. Hope that makes sense.

  32. Kaye @ House on Oak Street

    I just read this this morning and it is so timely! I needed encouragement to be brave! Thank you for your words!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Kaye, so glad God brought you here for encouragement. Thankful with you today.

  33. ChrisAnn and Kristin (@LoveFeast)

    We are over the moon that you joined us in the Gathered Thoughts Link Party. Your post is beautiful and just painted a new picture for us on just how tangible BRAVE really is. Thank you!
    ~Chris Ann & Kristin

    • Redemption's Beauty

      So glad to find you today, what a gift and thank you for the tweet as well. Appreciate the kindness.

  34. Amanda Williams (@life_edited)

    Oh, Shelly, this is so beautiful. As a writer, I’m enthralled with the careful and stunning word choices that allow you to deliver so much emotion in so little length. As a person, I am thankful for the picture of bravery (and yes! redemption) that you’ve painted here.

    “…to share a slice of my brave so you can eat it too.” YES. Thank you for sharing your story and sustenance with us.

    I’m thrilled that you stopped by to introduce yourself, and I’m truly honored to have my name tagged onto a post so lovely as this. Thank you.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Amanda, thrilled to meet you today and find this link up. I just love the way blogging leads us to one another, like daily divine appointments. Humble thanks for your kind words on this post. It’s all grace from Him and I am thankful. Hope you will come back for a visit again.

  35. hopefulleigh

    I’m astounded by the imagery and your bravery and the beauty of this post. I’m so glad you linked up with the Gathered Thoughts party!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thank you Leigh, so glad to meet you. I stumbled on Gathered Thoughts today and so glad I linked up. I have met some wonderful writers.

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