Brace Yourself with Courageous Engagement
We’ve got some options today. (A statement of the obvious in our free country.) So, to clarify, let’s talk about one option, in particular. Denial versus engagement.
Denial wears a million and one faces. There are as many avoidant facades as there are humans, but a few that women in our culture wear particularly well include busyness, self-righteousness or defensive fear (twins separated at birth), any variety of self-improvement program, and family-generated worries and lists and to-dos. These help us avoid, because they keep us hopped up on some version of adrenaline--an actual chemical that dulls pain--making us unable to engage life on life’s terms.
There are also the less socially-acceptable mechanisms of avoidance that keep us comforted in blankets of false peace--perhaps binge watching or stress eating or “I’m so done” drinking. These also dull our sense of life in its beautiful and complex reality, so that we become hindered in our engagement and can deny what’s real.
To close our month of learning how to brace our souls, praying into God’s reality using the words of civil rights leader Howard Thurman as a guide, we offer you his prayer-poem called “Give Me the Courage to Live.”
Because, you see, life is both beautiful and complex. It is both destitute and abundant. It is both painful and exquisite, it is both toneless and lyrical. It is God’s relentless goodness mixed with humans’ broken efforts. Therefore, it takes courage. And presence. And a willingness to stay with the pain to get to the healing; to swim through the waves to get to the sandbar. It takes engagement, even faltering engagement.
But today offers us the only space (the present moment) where we can actively see, know, and love God, ourselves, and others. Where we can follow Jesus into the abundant life.
There is an invitation to discover that life’s discomforting interruptions are also God’s way of drawing us in - where we lay down denial, pick up reality, and discover the whole spectrum of abundant life, in its current form.
Together, can we learn to calm our adrenaline instead of stoking it, to explore our vulnerability instead of covering it, and to brace our souls by living today, intentionally, as women of courage? What riches might await in the soil of abundant life, now?
It’s a pleasure to be brave together.
Give me the courage to live!
Give me the courage to live! Really live—not merely exist.
Daring the truth—
Particularly the truth of myself.
Ever changing, ever growing, ever adapting.
Enduring the pain of change.
As though ‘twere the travail of birth.
Give me the courage to live,
Give me the strength to be free
And endure the burden of freedom
And the loneliness of those without chains;
Let me not be trapped by success
Nor by failure, nor pleasure, nor grief,
Nor malice, nor praise, nor remorse!
Give me the courage to go on!
Facing all that waits on the trail –
Going eagerly, joyously on,
Without anger or fear or regret
Taking what life gives,
Spending myself to the full,
Head high, spirit winged…
Gracious God, hear my prayer;
Give me the courage to live.
-- Howard Thurman
The Kaleid Team