What happened to the Year of Living Courageously?

By Amanda Cleary Eastep

Feeding chemotherapy meds to your three-year-old, knowing it may not make a difference, takes courage.

Honestly talking out that painful subject that sticks like a burr up under your heart takes some courage.

So does running into a burning building, walking into divorce court, preaching the gospel to cannibals. Fill in the ________.

Last March, I determined to live the year courageously. It was a scary declaration, scarier in black and white, in public, open to scrutiny as much as to hurrahs.

courage-plaque

Here I am a year later, sitting on the same couch, typing. Bullet pointing in my head what, for me, took courage.

I think the writing style guides recommend NOT using bullets for less than three items…oh, well…

  • Quitting my full-time job to make a 10-year-long dream of freelance writing come true
  • Helping prepare my youngest child, just 18, to travel to northern Africa and Central Asia for two months
IMG_1686
Photo by Megan C.

Impressive or just ‘eh’ depending on your perspective, but I could write a book about each of these life events.

Yet, at times, I feel this gnawing disappointment in myself, like I should have done more, like I should have traveled to Africa, like my white face surrounded by lots of brown-faced children would have looked more like  acted-out courage.

But that’s “outside” stuff.

Courage has to happen inside first. And it’s never Facebook photo worthy.

Before we act, before we declare, leap, or even drag ourselves out of bed on the crappiest day of our lives, we have to stand–skinny sword arm trembling–and face FEAR:

  • of failure
  • of instability
  • of rejection
  • of loss
  • of God being all done with us

Nobody sees that battle. It can be ugly. No Instagram filter to soften the jagged edges and color of blood.

sea-woman

Now it’s March again. I’ve been asking God what to do next, like we’re planning another vacation. Sometimes, when I’m totally out of my mind, I hope he’ll say, ‘Let’s do this big! No more safe, all-inclusive resort stays, we’re heading to India to wash the feet of lepers!’

Saying yes to that would take a lot of courage at this point in my life.

But maybe it’s not about courage at all. Saying yes to things, especially God-y things, is about something way harder, like obedience.

When I tell my children to do something, they don’t think, ‘Wow, doing what my mother is asking me to do is gonna take a helluva lot of courage.’ They obey me because they trust and love me.

Even if I love God, how do I know I can trust him? Because he’s proven he’s trustworthy, because I’ve seen it before, his coming through, his getting me through.

footprints-sand

I’m not sure what is next, what he has next. Maybe March 2015-March 2016 was or wasn’t lived as courageously as it could have been. But I can declare it to be the beginning of living the rest of my life courageously.

Especially on the inside. Slaying demons of doubt and shame and fear, so that whatever that ends up looking like on the outside is a #nofilter picture of his forgiveness and grace and love.

Advertisements

14 thoughts on “What happened to the Year of Living Courageously?

  1. Mandy your blogs are such an inspiration and full of wisdom. Keep your focus on Him and He will see you through the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of the life He has in store for you. You have always had an open wise heart that was able to touch others. Keep your hopes and dreams in prayer and God will do the rest. Love you Dad.

    Like

  2. Mandy,
    Just when did you grow up? Somehow that cute little girl who lived next door turned into a beautiful, wise, wonderful woman. It seems like I just blinked and it happened. Oh my! You are COURAGEOUS, my dear. Nothing you could do would make you any better in God’s eyes. If nothing else, know that who you are right now, in this moment is ENOUGH!! I’ve had my own experiences that could take books to explain, so I hope you don’t mind if I skip the long narrative and simply offer some advice that I’ve learned over the years. First, live in the moment. We spend far too much time worrying about the next step or beating ourselves up about the past. Neither one is under our control. So stay centered and connected right here, in the “now.” Second, and this one is as much of a challenge as the first, enjoy and be thankful for everything–the good and the bad. Your life circumstances have allowed you to experience what you needed to grow into the strong, woman of faith that you are today. Now, I don’t mean to minimize “the crap” you’ve been through. But, you’ve made it through, right, even when you thought you couldn’t take even one more step? I’ve been there; I am there with you–daily slaying those internal “dragons” of fear. But I think as you’ve discovered, you have to go through all the crud, the fear, the not knowing what to do next, to make it to the place you’re longing for. I’m paraphrasing Beth Moore who says something like, feeling broken (and totally dependent on God) leads to major breakthroughs. There’s an old hymn that says “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way,” and that pretty much sums it up. So here’s to that trust. Let’s both take a deep breath and jump, face first into the remaining abyss of 2016! (Yikes, I think I just scared myself a little!) I’ll end with a short bit of advice I learned from Iyanla Vanzant. Do you know what the the acronym for fear is? F(alse) E(vidence) A(ppearing) R(eal). And with that, I hope those “dragons” don’t appear so big or real anymore!

    Love in Christ,
    Cheryl

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad to hear from you, Cheryl. Amazing how people are able to reconnect. Chestnut Street seems a million years ago, even though those are some of my happiest memories. Thank you for sharing your thoughts–and so beautifully. I appreciate that people take the time to read, since writers pour so much of themselves into their blogs and books, etc. and there is so much TO read out there. I appreciate even more the time people take to comment, to share their own experiences or thoughts, so thanks for that, too. Glad to meet you in this space. God bless you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Keep up the writing, Mandy. You definitely have a gift for it, Trust me, I’m a college professor and I read way too much writing. Yours is up there in the top 1%. Beyond that, you really touched me spiritually and caused me to think about things in a different way, a little nudge from the Holy Spirit speaking through your words. That’s the real miracle, isn’t it? So keep writing and I’ll keep reading! I’m sure you’ll continue to touch many, many lives.

        P.S. Let’s catch up sometime soon when I’m back up north visiting my folks. And say “hi” to your family for me.

        Blessings,
        ~Cheryl

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s very kind, thank you for the compliment and encouragement. Believe it or not I was about to write a post about going on a hiatus, because I’m building my marketing writing and consulting biz and working on a YA novel (a dream). And as a blogger, you think, “Well, I know some people enjoy it or are encouraged but should how long do I do this and why?” I will definitely say hi to my parents for you and hopefully see you sometime.

        Like

  3. Interesting read which got me thinking about courage, strange I never thought about it much. I wonder if it is a learned experience when you see it in your parents or is it something you just grasp in the moment knowing you must do something.

    Like

  4. Oh, that is really so true, that courage has to happen on the inside first. It’s the inner work, that nobody sees, monumental but with not one piece of physical evidence to post on social media. Thank you for acknowledging it, because it helps me see bigger picture, that I haven’t been wasting my time over the past year of sorting out the jumbled up pieces within. (The fear bullets are: I’m too old for this. I should have it figured out by now. I’m going to hurt someone else with my quest. I’m going to end up lost in the forest of no return. I’ll never have a leg to stand on again. I will lose respect. Etc.) Whew, that’s a lot to carry!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I originally had a photo of a woman facing a deep forest! That was for you, apparently. 🙂 We really can’t act on challenges until we win an internal battle of some kind, at least a skirmish. And what you said about carrying all those fear bullets…we do, and why? We feel in control that way, I suppose. Then it either topples or we weary quickly under the weight. What I should have said this year taught me was to fear less, it really did. I trusted God more than I ever have and grew from it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think you have been a very real example of courage. Very Laura Ingalls Wilder of you, crossing the plains in your covered wagon. Courage is bit by bit, isn’t it? It isn’t big leaps, very often, it’s taking a shaky step. And you did that. And I’m so proud of you. The real work comes in the follow-up once the big plunge is done. When we moved, it felt like it took everything we had just to get here, but then I had to live it out. So keep going, my friend. And keep writing. I’m loving every word of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny, I was thinking of that exact analogy the other day for a different post…packing the wagon is one and hitting the trail is one thing, building the homestead is another. I don’t mean to sound like I didn’t accomplish much, I feel good about the year. It was full of hard and great things. I’m a bit of a restless soul and coming up on 50 for god’s sake, so much left to do. And doing and achieving what I have is due in large part to friends like you, to my parents, husband, and children. Thanks for your encouragement, always, and for making moves that inspire me. 🙂

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s