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Spiritual Bravery

I’m a risk-taker, always have been. I’m not afraid of heights, of travel, of new cultures and people, or dicey places more times than not. But with my heart? That’s another story.

When you grow up with emotional abuse or you’ve experienced it as an adult like I have, you become skilled at what professional folks like to call “dissociation” and/or “transference.” What that means is when faced with emotional or physical pain, you shut down emotionally and dissociate or disconnect from your thoughts and feelings; or, when you don’t want to accept responsibility for your actions, you transfer the blame someone else. Yeah. Not fun.

For me, spiritual bravery has been the single most important tool I’ve learned, alongside a deep connection with God, that has brought me freedom and healing from shutting down and emotionally retreating, or blame-shifting and refusing to deal with my own issues. With God, I have learned that:

  • While those tools were useful in the moment of trauma, they are destructive to a whole-hearted, healthy adult.

  • Broken, ineffective coping tools need to be thrown out of my repertoire.

  • Continuing to punish myself or others, or withdraw from others only hurts me in the end.

  • God has far more effective tools I can use to resolve conflict and hurt that will continually bring me into a greater place of healing, peace and joy.

  • God’s tools are the only ones I have found that allow me to forgive and be at peace with my enemies regardless of whether or not they’ve chosen to apologize or change.

So what is spiritual bravery? It’s being willing to be messy and vulnerable with God about what’s really going on in my heart and mind vs. convincing myself I feel or think something I don’t. It’s being willing to deal with my broken thinking and wrong choices, face my deep-rooted fears, and invite godly people into that process for wise counsel and outside perspective.

Spiritual bravery is also choosing to trust God will put my hurts to good use to help others. Of knowing that no one else has the power to make me bitter, broken and angry but me. It’s looking at who I am before the cross, remembering I am worth nothing and yet everything to the Lord. He loves me with every fiber of His being. Period. I am valued, treasured and loved. Despite my circumstances and my failings. Despite what my thoughts might try to tell me.