He is Asking Me To Be Brave.

I feel You calling me to be it, this small word with so much meaning. I feel it in my soul, in the core of my being, that I am being called to brave. I can't get the word out of my mind. What does it even mean to be brave? I've never been brave. I am not the brave one. 

I feel You encouraging me to make this year brave. I feel you whispering, "Brave, brave, brave" over and over again. And the whisper is getting louder. It is welling up within me. 

I don't know how to be brave. I live a life of constant fear. My life is controlled by fear. Fear of relationships, of being vulnerable, of being truly known by someone else. Fear of opening my heart and my life to someone else. Fear of marriage and a life-long committment. Fear of the unknown. Fear of a failed future. Fear of rejection. Fear of a life half-lived. Fear of death, of sickness. Fear of pain, of sadness, of a deep aching in the pit of my stomach. Fear of my family's lives being in danger, of siblings going astray, of them getting lost in this big world. Fear of lonliness, of being forgotten, of being replaced. Fear of attacks, fear of danger, fear of epidemic. Fear of never fitting in, never knowing who I am, of never liking who I am. I fear everything I have been given in this life. Unlike sunny optimists who bring sunshine and carefree-ness no matter what the situation, I see the glass half empty, worried about whether I'm going to be okay. I don't know where I learned to live afriad, but it's how I've lived my entire life. Afraid. 

The panic attacks started in middle school. Their place was taken by deep-rooted insecurity and fear of rejection in high school. I lived one year, senior year, carefree, happy and content. But the anxiety returned in college. It was managable freshman year. It escalated to panic attacks my sophomore. Full-blown depression and social panic controlled my life by junior year. I failed classes. I couldn't drive my car. I couldn't get out of bed. I couldn't stop sobbing. I gave up. The summers are always better, though. It's warm, there are no responsibilities, life is easy. It's easy to not be afraid of anything when the days are long and warm and you're on vacation.

Now senior year, I sit here writing this is in the throes of depression once more. I am in the trenches of a dark and scary battle going on inside my brain. I feel the tug-of-war going on inside me. It takes little to set me off. I tip-toe around my day, as if it were a landmine, and any set even a little off path, could set off an explosion.  And somedays, it's quiet. But it's dark. There is no battle, because darkness has won before my alarm goes off. And the day is spent in darkness. The world is gray and dull, and I no longer see the bright side of life, but see everything as a chore. I know my brain is sick. I know it's not my fault. I know that even if I feel crazy, I am not. But each day is a tad more difficult than the last and you begin to wonder how long this type of life is sustainable. 

And, yet, You're asking me to be brave? You're asking me to face this life with NO FEAR of the future, NO FEAR of the unknown? You've got the wrong girl. I was built to fear. It's what I'm good at. It's all I know. I can't make it through the night without crying myself to sleep-for no reason other than my brain tells me it all is wrong. I can't make it out of bed without a 20 minute pep talk. I am not the brave one. I don't face change well. I don't face the unknown. That is not me. 

I hear the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus. We read it at church, it's almost Christmas. Her future was unknown, scary and dark. Yet, she said "Yes" to what You asked of her. She was brave. She lived a brave life. I am not Mary. I am not even close to the kind of woman she was. How is it that you could ask me to follow her example? 

I know nothing but fear. How can I take this leap to be brave? 

"I have heard You calling my name, I have heard the song of love that You sing. So I will let You draw me out beyond the shore, into Your grace. You make me brave. You make me brave. You call me out beyond the shore into the waves."