My knuckles aren't bloodied. I've got no cuts, scraps, bruises or broken bones to prove it. But I'm a fighter.
In the face of some rough stuff in my life, I've had to toughen up. I've had to get some thicker skin. I've had to find strength in the midst of exhaustion and push through. And you know what? I'm on my feet. I'm standing tall and learning what it takes to be strong and courageous. Learning that it's not really my feet I'm standing on at all. It's not me that has pushed through anything, and it's not by my own accord that I'm standing tall. I have surrendered ... and my God became my shield, my strength, my courage.
The definition of courage has changed since the word's origin. The word originally meant "to speak one's mind by telling all one's heart," but in today's world, it has much more to do with being brave and heroic, "putting your life on the line.” I’ve been reading The Gift of Imperfection by Brene Brown, and I felt she put that most poetically. But, let's stick old school... Courage is "putting our vulnerability on the line" by speaking the truth of our hearts. By admitting the hurts. Exposing the parts of us that are the most vulnerable. By confiding in someone the things that may show weakness. By surrendering the fact that we don't have it all together all the time. Owning our mistakes, our shortcomings, our flaws... Transparency. Authenticity. That is incredible courage.
I bought a bracelet recently that has the words "be brave" imprinted on a metal plate. It's my reminder. Not a reminder that I'm not yet brave and must attain that state of being, but rather bravery, or courage, is a character trait I must choose in every decision I make. It tells me to be brave this instant and the next. This day and the next, because it's not a static trait like my height or my shoe size. It's ever-changing and entirely reliant on my choices. Entirely dependent on my surrender. Every moment.
So I'm a fighter. Not because I can last 12 rounds in the ring, but because I waved my white flag. And I must choose to do this every day. Then, my battles, my fights, will be not only fought, but won. Because Exodus 14:14 says "The Lord will fight your battles for you. You need only to be still.”
You may be asking yourself what this post has to do with an apple orchard. Liam and I spent some time at the orchard today and I kept admiring his choice in apple. At first, I told Liam to really check out the apples, to make sure there aren’t rotten spots, bumps and bruises, cuts and scrapes. Only pick the big, smooth and shiny ones, I told him. He followed my direction in filling our bucket, and then he asked if he could eat one. I said yes, of course. He went right over to the tree, grabbed one with some knicks and cuts, brushed it off and said, “this one is still great, momma” and he took a big ol’ bite. I don’t always have external evidence of the battles I fight, but my heart has taken big bumps, bruises and cuts. And in the words of my wise little boy, my heart... “its still great.” The Lord fights for me. He trains me up. He sits ring side, and as soon as I tag Him in, he says, “I’ve got this!” It takes incredible courage to tag Him in. Incredible courage to bear your heart. To surrender.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you where ever you go. - Joshua 1:9
"Courage is like a muscle. It is strengthened by use." - Ruth Gordon