“Living Brave means that no matter what we feel or what we’re facing … we are not alone.” chronic-joy.org

LIVING BRAVE AMID CELEBRATION AND ANXIETY

My soul swirled with tender awe as I snuggled Rosie Lou, our newest grandchild, less than 24 hours old. After two full days of intense yet inconsistent labor for her mama, this sweet baby arrived in an extraordinary 30-minute rush. Her miraculous, unconventional birth multiplied our joy in welcoming her to the world!

Yet beneath the thrill of it all, I sensed a familiar, niggling anxiety. Would my intense emotional and physical involvement trigger debilitating pain? I had experienced that kind of delayed reaction in the past and knew it was possible. Sadly, my fear came to fruition.

Chronic Joy’s printable resource, #Living Brave, helped rescue me from despair and self-pity in the days that followed. I gained fresh courage by reading and pondering its key Scripture:

Keep on being brave. It will bring you great rewards. (Hebrews 10:35)

Chronic illness definitely requires a “keep on” mindset. The ongoing challenge of anticipating and avoiding pain can feel overwhelming. Pacing ourselves to prevent the onset of symptoms is tricky because the line between cause and effect is often blurry.

We know there’s a price to pay if we “overdo,” and the temptation to isolate or pull back is real. How do we find balance? I believe the secret lies in choosing wisdom over fear, seeking the Lord’s guidance each step of the way.

“No one is born brave. We choose to be courageous, every day and in every circumstance, one decision at a time.”  (Nick Diliberto, #Living Brave)

 

CHRONIC PAIN AND CELEBRATION

The struggle of chronic pain is especially difficult in the context of celebration. For me, Rosie’s birth sparked a deep desire to help my daughter’s family with whatever they needed. I’d done so when their other three children were born, serving them with delight. This time was notably different, due to health limitations. I felt an increasing sense of grief and guilt, torn between what I yearned to do and what was now physically possible.

The Holy Spirit prompted me to acknowledge this churn of emotions by writing in my journal. Tears flowed as frustration and heartache spilled onto the page, so unwelcome when I’d anticipated only happiness. I breathed deeply as I finished, drinking in the reality of God’s calming grace. In admitting my heartache, I discovered fresh space for peace and gratitude.

#Living Brave offers twelve suggestions for moving forward with courage, including these two favorites:

  • “Being intentionally, unconditionally, and patiently kind with who we are and with where we are on the journey.”
  • “Thanking God for everything we do have in the midst of loss, pain, loneliness, anxiety, illness, and depression.”

LIVING BRAVE TAKES TRUST IN GOD

Scripture calls us to rejoice, pray, and give thanks in every situation (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Scripture also invites us to fully pour out our hearts to God. (Psalm 62:8). More than anyone, God understands the troubles we face. The enemy of our souls would like to rob us of the Lord’s gracious gifts, but He is able to preserve all He bestows. He provides the perseverance and hope we need to keep our hearts open to receive His goodness.

“Living Brave begins with faith, with living authentically from the inside out. It’s messy and gritty, and reveals how much we really trust God.”

It is not easy, but we can still embrace celebration despite chronic pain. We can taste its sweetness, even in bite-sized pieces. Releasing expectations, we watch for blessings to relish, no matter how small. Instead of longing for the past or wishing today was different, we recognize God’s kindness in the moments before us. We shine as beacons of bravery, beaming His hope to ourselves and to all who need it.

We praise You, gracious God, for Your compassion and help. Please grant us the courage to live bravely each day, despite our struggles. Teach us to keep celebrating Your gifts, even in ways that look different than the past. We rest in Your presence and care. We love you. Amen.

REFLECTION QUESTIONS

  • In what circumstance do you want to start Living Brave today?
  • What is one choice you can make to move in that direction?
  • Who inspires you to live with courage? Take time to let them know.

AN INVITATION

I invite you to read and reflect on #Living Brave in the days ahead – and as you receive encouragement, consider how you can inspire those around you.

Yellow Bubbles
Lee Ann Zanon

Lee Ann Zanon

Chronic Joy® Staff Writer

Lee Ann is passionate about spreading the truth of Scripture. For decades, she served in various women’s ministry roles (including teaching at Corban University for ten years) until chronic pain dramatically changed her life. Her background as a Bible teacher, retreat speaker, worship leader, editor, and writer has prepared her perfectly for her current focus on writing and providing one-on-one encouragement. Lee Ann and her husband Mike live in Salem, Oregon. They have two married daughters and four grandchildren. She is the author of Honest Hope.

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