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Brave Avenue Unscripted: Surprised by Struggle

Episode 2: Surprised by Struggle

Welcome to Episode 2, where we discuss the surprises of struggle, and overcoming. Below you will find our show notes.

 

Unexpected struggles arise for everyone:

  • Struggle of new motherhood.
  • Struggle of capacity for motherhood and work balance.
  • Struggle of not knowing.
  • Struggle of where we are in life not matching expectations.
  • Struggle of taking on too much.
  • Struggle to admit we could use help or support from others.
  • Struggle of life not going as expected.

We don’t know we’re unprepared for these struggles until we see our responses.

What is your usual response to struggle?

  • Shame
  • Guilt
  • Try to make small changes, take single steps forward
  • “Float in grace”
  • Journal
  • Be vulnerable with others
  • Other?

What is the underlying fear stealing your joy?

What do you feel like you need to prove?

Who is your support network?

Who in your life can you walk alongside through struggle?

How can you struggle well?  How can you struggle bravely?

  • Talk to a trusted friend
  • Be vulnerable
  • Check on strong friends
  • List what you are thankful for today

2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness…”

James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds…”

  • Joy is deeper than happiness.
  • Joy can be found in struggle.

Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Philippians 4:6 “Tell him every detail and his wonderful peace will make the answers known to you…”

Resources:

Just Do Something

Just read something.

The voice echoed in my head as I rolled over in bed, contemplating what or IF I should read my Bible that morning. Why had this grown to be my morning routine? After weeks of busy, non stop days from early morning to almost midnight most days, my body, mind, and heart was growing accustomed to shutting down and going on autopilot. This day was different however. As I lay there and told God my reasons why I couldn’t grab the Bible right next to me and read. Eventually, he won with that simple “read something”-anything really, just read. Something is better than nothing he seemed to whisper.

Something is better than nothing.

Often we seem to lack the motivation not because we don’t want to do the thing, but because we want to do it well and end up not starting at all out of fear that it won’t go perfectly as planned. For me, that can manifest in several ways: a homework assignment, a tough conversation, or getting up and doing the thing I desired and determined to do just the day before.

With my theme of choosing the Hard Way this year, I’ve realized that in order to get the most out of life and to GIVE the most to my future self, I just have to do something no matter how imperfect or lackluster I think it may be. I have to be able to take a risk in order for any real change to occur.

Indecision is a decision not to decide.

It is still a choice when you choose “not to choose”. There is still risk involved, and it is the risk of not knowing what would have happened had you actually made a real decision. Either way you risk.

That’s kinda what this is all about. That word none of us like but all of us will encounter at some point in our journey. RISK. Which is greater? The risk of making the wrong decision, or the risk of making no decision at all?

When I finally made the decision to just read something that morning, I was blessed and encouraged, something that would not have happened had I chosen to get a few more minutes of sleep. It wasn’t a perfect devotional and journal and prayer time, or even super in depth. It was simple and sweet, and just what I needed. While it wasn’t much of a risk, it was the first step-among many-on the journey to conquering fear. One small victory over indecision, one more step towards a braver me.

Receiving Grace

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. The alarm clock went off and I fumbled to quickly silence and get those last few seconds of peace before another hectic day begins. As I started to wake up, I soon realized that this was my backup alarm and I missed my workout, the second time in the past week. Now, if you’re any normal person, this is not a big deal, you dust yourself off and go on with the day. For me that morning, however, it was a bit of a meltdown. I couldn’t believe how I had failed yet again and that this was totally NOT living the hard way (like I had committed to do here), and how was I ever going to reap those long term rewards if I couldn’t even get up for a simple workout. As I ruminated on this, the stress of other events came into my mind and I connected my failure in waking up late to having a negative effect on the rest of my life as well, like my studies, work, relationship, and overall wellbeing.

Stress can do this odd thing to people, where it makes them crazy and overreact to everything. I did it to myself. I was getting too stressed that I forgot that I was blessed. I had tried too hard to lean on my own understanding and my own power, that when I failed, I had no where to go except to beat up myself and “try harder next time.” My closest friends and family told me I was being too hard on myself, and I excused it away in the name of being “disciplined.”

I couldn’t accept the grace that was extended to me, because I couldn’t even give myself grace. It was like I was unworthy of grace and kindness because I had failed. The grace that God offered, and the grace that his children were offering me was undeserved. But that’s kind of the point.

Sometimes you have to be brave enough to humble yourself and receive. Receive the grace that others have to offer, even when you can’t give it to yourself. Receive the service of others, because sometimes you have to be served instead of constantly serving. Receive the love and joy that comes from the forgiveness and kindness of others, especially when it is undeserved.

Receive the grace… even when you can’t give it to yourself.

When I could finally accept that God and others could have grace for me, I was able to have a little more grace for myself. Life is hard and gets stressful sometimes. However, that we can still accept the grace that is extended us to live out this brave journey we are on.

This journey is not meant to be lived alone and most definitely not within your own power. The grace of God and others can bring such joy and depth! Accept the grace today. You don’t have to have it all together.

When the Hard Way Gets Hard

“I was wrong.

I was weak.

I am sorry.

I chose what was comfortable instead of the Hard Way this time.”

This year, the theme that I chose is “The Hard Way.” After reading a book on entitlement and experiencing a hard year in 2015, I knew that living the hard way now would set me up for greater success in my future and a way to live easier in the long run. Creating disciplines and habits now would be hard, but this had the potential to set me up for the rest of my life.

Like any new endeavor, it started off well, and though it was hard, it seemed that it would pay off because I had that vision of the long term in mind. Fast forward a couple months and a week with little sleep and I thought it could get easier soon. However, after a few more weeks with lack of sleep, I started to fade, and the desire to seek comfort grew.

As a result, I chose the easy way, I dumped responsibilities that were mine onto a friend and made her stressed and confused in the process. I chose to have the attitude of entitlement, that for some reason, because I had a “busy schedule” or “lack of sleep,” I had an excuse to not handle my fair share of the responsibility. Anti-entitlement (choosing the hard way) thinks of others first, and understands how personal actions impact other people. (Tweet that!)

By me not choosing the hard way, I made it harder for other people.

My lawyer neighbor while I was growing up had this saying on his wall and every time we would go into his office we would read: “Poor planning on your part, does not constitute for an emergency on my part.”

Yet so often, as entitled people, we think the opposite is true. We say, “Because I didn’t plan well, you will do the work for me.” We push our own responsibilities onto others.

After realizing the hurt and stress I had caused my friend, I knew what I needed to do.

Sometimes bravery is admitting we were in the wrong, exposing our vulnerabilities or weaknesses and asking for forgiveness from those we hurt. I had not chosen bravery. I had chosen comfort and what I thought seemed to be easiest at the time, yet it ended up wounding the relationship with my friend, causing the need for some repairs.

Thankfully, she forgave as soon as I apologized, and we are on good terms, but I can’t help but think what it could have been had I chosen the Hard Way to begin with.

It’s YOUR turn!
When did you choose comfort over “the hard way”?

How have your actions of entitlement affected other people?

Is there someone in your life that you need to make amends with today?

The Hard Way

Remember the hard things you’ve done in the last season to enable you to do the hard things in this season.

As we began our year of 2016, we each chose a theme. After starting to read the book The Entitlement Cure, I chose “The Hard Way” as my theme, and have realized more and more just how fitting it really is and will be for this year.

This past season, I had to make several hard decisions, all of which required hours of prayer, seeking wise counsel and advice from mentors and friends, and the sheer power of the Holy Spirit.

At the onset of this new year, as I chose my theme of “the Hard Way” for 2016, I grew worried of all of the hard decisions I would have to make and how tired and worn out I would be from doing things the hard way. It was like I was mentally preparing myself for a miserable year in lieu of all that had happened the previous year. I was trying to hold myself to an impossible standard of perfection, when all I had actually committed to was a decision making process that produces growth.

Thankfully, as I was nearly in tears on several occasions, I had several of those same mentors and friends who had been through it all with me, remind me of the hard decisions I had already made. I had already started to choose the hard way, braving the unknown over 8 months ago! I simply needed to be reminded of what had already happened and of what I was already capable. Instantly, I felt more secure and able to take on the challenges that I knew lay ahead.

Instead of worrying at the thought of whether I might mess up again, I now remind myself of the hard decisions I knew I had to make and the beneficial and freeing results that have followed.

I am not choosing the hard way because I like it, I am choosing the hard way because I like what it produces. And it produces peace, patience, discipline, security, joy, and so much more that I have yet to discover.

FullSizeRender-4

You too can choose the hard way with me this year. The hard way is

“the habit of doing what is best rather than what is comfortable, to achieve a worthwhile outcome.”

What do you foresee as some hard decisions you will need to make this year?

How can you step forward in bravery to choose the hard way today?

Click over to our Facebook or Twitter and let us know your plans for 2016!

[im]Perfectly Obsessed

Recently, after looking over my recent Facebook posts, my mother (the great reality therapist that she is) told me she thought I was acting a little obsessed about getting free food all the time.

If I’m not mistaken, she may have been the one to initiate and fuel my thrifty habits (obsessions), but while she may have given me the guidelines, this has been something I’ve taken and ran with over the years.

At a Leadercast talk this past year, Seth Godin said,

there is bravery in being obsessed.”

He started his talk with this example of how we all have these frogs in a bowl that keep trying to jump out and we spend so much time and energy trying to keep them in our bowl. What we don’t realize is that growth, change, and magic can come from letting some of those frogs jump out of the bowl. We need to stop trying to be perfect.

What I am realizing now is that when you are obsessed with something enough, you become brave enough to be imperfect (Tweet it!) in order to accomplish that obsessed about goal or reality. While I may not necessarily obsess about free food, there are other things that could be considered obsessions (others may call it passions) in my life that have made me forget my imperfections.

I used to be afraid of being imperfect, until I realized that I am actually NOT perfect—then I tried to make sure no one else was let in on the secret. (Actually, sometimes I am still afraid of people seeing my imperfections.)

Brenè Brown says,

“Perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.”

I’ve found something wonderful, something beautiful happens when I am doing something I love, something I’m “obsessed” with, which is not just free food by the way. I discovered that when I do these things–writing, helping another human being, listening to music–I completely forgot about how I look in the eyes of others, or whether or not a “perfect” person would do this or that—I just do it! (yeah Nike!)

So sing and dance in the rain, even if your hair goes flat, or curly, or whatever it is that you don’t want it to do. That’s kinda the point: losing yourself in the moment. “Owning it” as Seth Godin says, standing for something. Be just crazy obsessed enough about something to forget about hiding your imperfections. (Tweet it!) I think that’s when beauty happens, when we can forget about ourselves and just be. Be ourselves. It’s effortless and easy, it doesn’t take calculated thinking, or extensive planning. It may take some awkward feelings, and uncomfortable vulnerability at first. Soon, however, we can begin to see the beauty, even magic that can happen from being perfectly obsessed to forget about perfection and go for it.

We would love to hear from you! What are you obsessed about?! Are you still trying to find that thing to obsess about? We would love to hear that too 🙂 Comment below or post on our Facebook or Twitter!

Be Brave & Carry on.

“Each step prepares you for the next one.” Dr. Hoffman

I recently heard this quote while discussing the big picture in life and how we can get so focused on the big picture, that monumental moment in the future, that we forget about the here and now.

In the past few months, God has given me many pictures and words for what is to come in my life. However, I live in the present reality, I don’t live in a futuristic fantasy. Now my job is to live this present reality in view of the future, mindful of the work I will do each day in order to get there. I still hold onto the hope, but I’m not naive enough to think it will just magically happen with no work on my part.

Proverbs 14:15 says, “The simple believe anything,

but the prudent give thought to their steps.”

If each step prepares me for the next and it is a good thing to give thought to my steps in the view of the vision I have been given, then YES, I will prayerfully consider my ways each day!

Bravery is a journey. You don’t wake up one morning and just decide to be brave (although that would be a good way to start). Bravery starts small, and as you go along the journey, each step of the way will be preparation for the next. Take some time to think about the journey. Reflect and be still for a few moments.

Here are three things to help as your current step prepares you for the next:

  1. Ask yourself, how is this step preparing me for that bigger picture?
  2. What in my last step (or the last year) prepared me for right now?
  3. How can I live right now in view of the bigger picture of a lifetime? Or eternity?

Trust that this step is preparing your for the next, however difficult each step may be. When we take the time to reflect on what has already happened, it gives us that bigger picture view to take with us in the midst of each step.

Proverbs 20:24

“A person’s steps are directed by the Lord.

How then can anyone understand their own way?”

We may not understand it now, but we will someday! Keep going. Be brave, and carry on. (Tweet that).

It’s the Little Things

When you start a new venture on bravery, prepare yourself for the opportunities that will arise. It’s funny how that happens, the day you set your mind to be brave, you will have the opportunity to live it out, putting your intention into action.

Recently I’ve had some life situations that have required me to step out of my comfort zone. However, these were temporary situations where I had the option to choose to remove myself. While this was courage in action, these trials were things I was easily rid of. Some things are not so easy to bravely step away from. Some things like depression or cancer, abusive situations or homelessness cannot be escaped so easily.

Individuals with those circumstances have to bravely face each day with courageous fire in their eyes and a shield over their heart, bracing themselves for whatever is thrown their way next. Living a lifestyle of bravery, consistently waking up each morning, they determine to live bravely no matter their present circumstances-no matter how permanent the situation may seem.

Some circumstances are temporary and may be eliminated if we make one brave decision. But a lifestyle of bravery requires several small choices to keep going, living, breathing, and hoping.

One day-you will be free from your chains. Today, you can take that step.

Luke 16:10 says, “one who is faithful in little will be faithful in much…” The same can be said of bravery: when you are brave in the little things, you will be brave in the bigger things.

For me lately, those small choices have come in the form of saying no to things that will over-commit and overwhelm me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I have made small decisions to get up earlier, even though that may be the hardest decision to make, it helps me be more productive and feel more at peace.

Whatever it is, you can choose bravery today and not let your circumstances determine your life or your attitude.

If you dare to live a lifestyle of bravery, we would love to hear from you! Maybe you are still in the struggle. Maybe you are one big brave choice away from your breakthrough. You may be several little brave decisions away from that bigger. Let little brave acts be repeated and your fear will be defeated! (Tweet that!)

What is your brave moment? Where are you along your brave journey?

Visit our Facebook and leave a post on our wall or Twitter at us @braveavenue so we can hear about your brave moments.

Uncomfortable Bravery

Sometimes being brave means speaking the truth even when it may temporarily hurt the person to whom you are speaking. While it may hurt at first, you know that in order to fully heal or grow, they need to know the truth, acknowledge the truth, and deal with the truth.

This past week I had the opportunity to get real with an individual, in a less than comfortable situation. Though I tried at first to glaze over the root issue, she blatantly asked me to tell her the truth. I did not like the fact that I was going to have to say something difficult and although it would not be easy for her to hear, I knew that I would be the only one to speak this truth to her.

Out of love and genuinely wanting to help, praying desperately that God would give me grace with her response, what gave me courage to speak the truth was this verse:

Proverbs27.6

Just a few months ago, the reverse situation happened to me. I had people who loved me deeply tell me the truth about some things in my life that were so excruciating to hear, but were realities that I knew deep down were true. I knew they had my best interest in mind. It was the most loving thing they could have done at the time and it takes real bravery to choose love over comfort. However, it did require that I go through the uncomfortable process of humbling myself and listening to their wisdom.

I am so thankful that I had the examples of sincere friends who were not afraid to inflict that small little wound to spare me further intense pain in the long run. It helped me do the same this past week, taking that small brave step to love outside of my comfort zone.

I’ve realized more and more lately, that being brave is staying true to who I am, speaking truth, and not shying away from uncomfortable situations. In a world where most of us are scared to become vulnerable, as it may appear weak, we are longing for someone to take that first brave step to have a conversation that matters.

Is there an unpleasant truth or reality facing you or a loved one that needs to be brought to light?

Today you can choose genuine love over comfort and inspire others to do the same.

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