"But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more."
Today. I would like to talk about bravery. Sure we hear the stories about the fire fighters that saved the triplets and the family dog out of the burning house. Or the man that landed the plane in the Hudson. But I would like to talk to you about the brave ones I know. The women in my life.....well over the past year I have been struck with how brave they all are. This is a bravery that runs deep and must be called upon in life's hardest moments.
I turned 26 last week. As I sat at my birthday dinner I was struck with the Joy in the women around me. All of them have been brave this year. All of them have endured personal trials and unbelievable heartbreaks. Yet here they were. Out, dressed up, laughing, encouraging me, and choosing to be joyful. While they may not have saved hundreds of lives on an airplane...they were still being brave.
I recently did a paper on the book of Ruth. When I reading I was struck at how brave she was to forsake everything she has ever known and go to a foreign land with just her mother-in-law. Can you imagine. Your husband of ten years has just died. You have no children and your MIL is a widow too. She desires to return to a land where you will be shunned and looked at and gossiped about. Yet Ruth will not budge. She looks at where the Lord has her and chooses to trust. Chooses to say yes, and chooses to be brave.
Ruth. What an example of bravery the Lord has given us.
These women I know....their bravery humbles me to my core.
In the wake of losing a children, or multiple children through miscarriages....they wept and mourned and cried out to the Lord. But they still loved their husbands and loved the heck out of their kids. Shoot, it was brave of them to even get out of bed each day. Every smile and every laugh for months was an act of bravery.
Others choose to fly across oceans for the sake of one. They gave up money, and sleep, and comfort, and sanity, and time with their husband, just for the sake of one little girl or one little boy. They easily could have thrown in the towel when faced with speed bumps, but instead they chose to be brave. They chose to trust. When they were watching six kids and all of them are screaming and they were covered in lord knows what.....they laughed. That laughter---well that was bravery at its finest hour.
Still, there are women who knowingly took a child into their home, no questions asked, even when they were planning for a baby of their own. This child has known love and security for the first time. Sure it would have been easier to say no...but that is what bravery is. Saying yes in the face of the impossible or the improbable.
These women fight like hell for their families when their family and hope for a family is threatened. They weep and cry out and look disaster in the eye, and ultimately choose the promises of the Lord. They claim the truth that He will fight for them and for their family. The fighting back---it's brave.
I know women who love their husbands through the unthinkable, and show an entire community how far the grace of the Gospel can reach. Choosing to forgive and to love and to hope and to fight for a family is brave, and risky, but oh so worth it.
Oh these women, I could go on and on! There are others who stare singleness and loneliness square in the eye and confidently proclaim, "you will not define me or steal my joy, but Christ is the only one who can define me." Even during those moments of immense longing to be loved and cherished by a man----they choose Joy. They keep laughing, they keep talking to boys, they keep smiling, and they keep hoping. Each day becomes a battle to put their hope in Christ and not in man. Simply going out the door to meet friends for dinner can be brave. Smiling and putting on lipstick in the wake of heartbreak....it's definitely brave.
Don't get me started on the women I know who share a love of travel! These women are traveling to foreign lands that hold deep heartbreak and wounds---yet they are saying yes to the Lord and going back. They are headed to countries with travel warnings, and visiting graves of sons that were taken too soon. The going and getting on the plane.....that is brave.
I cannot get over how much these women have taught me. Ladies, you know who you are---please know that your battles have not gone unnoticed. Thank you for teaching me about grace, love, forgiveness, sacrifice, trust, hope, and of course bravery. I hope one day I can remember this, and in the midst of heartbreaks to come choose bravery too. For those of you in the midst of a battle....look up and look around. You are not alone. You have never for one second been alone. He is holding you and calling you to reach out your hand. The Lord will place people in your life to hold you up and help you along the way. Sometimes the Lord may give you Sorrow and Suffering for companions. Trust Him. They are the ones you need for this part of the journey. For you never know who they, or even you will turn into. He can turn sorrow and suffering into Grace and Peace, and He can turn you into the glorious women He wants you to be.
So let's be like Ruth. Let's be brave, and say yes, and lay our cards out like she did for Boaz (but maybe without actually sleeping at a older man's feet...that may not have the fairytale ending we were hoping for :o). Choose joy and choose to be brave.
Life can be hard, but more often than not.....life can be blindingly beautiful.