Sometimes choosing what is right, even what you are called to, is freakin’ terrifying. I wear lipstick these days because lipstick makes me feel braver.
I stood at the airport a couple weeks ago and said goodbye to my mom and sisters; everything in me wanted to follow them back home, and I asked myself many times why I chose this kind of life. But at the same time I looked at these four beautiful children I love, and I knew why I chose this. Why I chose the constant goodbyes and standing at the departure doors and staying in country that sometimes challenges me. This love for them has propelled me into a culture that is not mine, a life where I am constantly cat-called, prices are raised because of the color of my skin and sometimes they speak about me in Luganda not knowing I can understand some of what they say. A life where I have to chose to do the brave thing scared.
So I keep choosing.
If you had asked me a couple months ago my plans for the future, I would have told you I was ready to leave Uganda. I was ready to run. Then there were teen-aged siblings that needed a place to stay, I knew their story, knew them, but still saying yes was a heavy and scary thing. There was an extra guest room behind my house. I knew the oldest girl, but had only met her brothers briefly. But I said yes. I would welcome them to my table, welcome them to my home, advocate for them. I wanted to run many times and I wondered if it was truly the right thing to do. I did that brave thing scared. It has been six months, and I suddenly do not know what life was like before I was calling them in to eat or going to school meetings or listening to their stories after school.
That is the thing with doing what is brave, sometimes it brings us the greatest gifts.
We were driving home down the dark roads on the way home from the airport while pointing out cars to each other “auntie kris, I guess a van is a family car, so that would make sense to get a van.” I smile as he talks about which car he would choose. He pauses, “auntie kris, when you buy a car do they allow you to bring your child with you?”. I answer that, yes, they would allow me to bring my child with me to a car dealership. “Okay, because when you go I am coming with you.” And it’s a reminder again of why I choose this; because he is twelve years old, lost his parents and walked through hell, but he refers to himself as my child.
I keep choosing to do brave things scared because we all want to belong.
My heart turns to the Israelites as they stood facing the promise land. They trembled in fear at the news of giants and the unknown; even though it was a land promised to them by a faithful Father. They allowed fear to cripple them, to keep them wandering outside the place God had prepared for them and called them into. The place that God had told them He would be stronger than their fears and be their provider for every need; but still they wandered. I always shook my head at this story, God had made this promise to them then why were they still so fearful? But then I look at my own life and the American church, stagnant, waiting, hoping but not moving, and suddenly the questions is now about us.
I will choose to do the brave thing scared, terrified, trembling even– if it means following the promises of a Sovereign Father.
Brave has been redefined for me lately, because most of my days consist of being mom or writing down visions and dreams. Brave is hard, brave is hope filled, brave is facing darkness knowing that the Light is waiting. Brave is surrendering and sacrificing. But brave does not always mean huge adventures, sometimes brave is quiet and still; it blends in with every day life.
Brave can sometimes look mundane.
Brave can mean staying when you want to run or running when you want to stay.
Brave can be sitting next to that person who yearns for a sense of belonging.
Brave can look like school offices and clinics and a children’s shelter.
Brave can also be cooking dinner and mopping floors.
Brave does not have to be extravagant.
But always, brave calls us first to our knees.
As hard as brave can be, I look at this life and a thousand times over I would chose it, again and again. Because this is where heaven meets earth, when we chose to do brave things. I did not think God called me to Uganda to be a foster mom; I had big hopes and bigger dreams, but being mom to these children who have lost everything– I cannot put into words what an honor it is.
These children I have the honor of loving are my heroes, they are the bravest. They chose brave everyday. They chose to love and to hope again– after everything they have walked through. The bravest of the braves.
We may walk into the promise land broken, bruised, terrified and trembling, but still we will walk with hearts of praise and hope; that’s all He ever asks of us.