The love that made me brave

It's a good thing I carpooled, that was strategic. I was on my way to a retreat that included a dozen people I'd never met. Women. Strangers. Those two words could have easily made me hyperventilate on my best days.

Ten minutes into the retreat I was texting my husband, my mind in full on panic mode. I was trapped in this house for the next three days, and my fear was not without precedence. There had been experiences. Visions of middle school traumas and the movie Mean Girls played through my head on repeat. This was my own personal nightmare.
 "You're staying there." My phone beeped, my only way out, my husband was putting his foot down. I was stuck.


The whole thing felt a bit like diving off a cliff, the kind where you can't see the bottom, where you don't know if your diving to your death, or into new life. Resistance stuck to me like gum to the bottom of my shoe, hindering each step forward just enough to cause hesitancy. Would I be loved? Accepted? Understood? And most importantly, did I even belong here amongst these warriors of words?

Was I really a writer?

Because to write would mean I'd have to be seen. It meant that I'd have to walk into the deep waters, the shadowy places, and the painful corners of my heart. It meant confronting years of resistance and owning my words. It came with no guarantees, no predictable outcomes,  and no easy answers.

 And yet, I wouldn't face this question alone.  There was a community around me, jumping off their own cliffs, diving into the depths, beckoning me along. They loved me despite my resistance and their love, it changed me.

They taught me that it is the most vulnerable of souls who choose to enter the depths of their callings. Who wrestle with the tension of the art they are creating, pushing through into the wild places. This is art. The book, the song, the poem, the story, these are just the ashes of a life lived courageously.

Jesus saved my life, this is an unmistakable fact. But it was these Jesus-women, the ones who put His skin on and showed me sisterhood, who laid themselves bare before me and shared their story, who taught me the value of an open heart, and who bravely called out my name, asking me to come and join them, that changed me forever.

Their love, it made me brave.


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