Ever feel like you might possibly maybe perhaps have something to offer the world around you but you just can’t manage to find the courage you need to open your hands and offer it?
Or open your mouth and say it?
Or pick up your pen and write it?
Or swing wide your door and let them in?
Here are three ways to be brave when you feel like a wimp:
1. Accept your limitations.
What? I thought this post was about being brave!
Look, I’m all about a challenge, about pushing yourself beyond what you thought possible, about defying gravity and all that. But let’s pause for a minute and think about our own limitations.
One reason why I often feel like a wimp is because I am painfully aware of my own limits. How can I be brave in this situation when I clearly can’t do this, that, or the dreaded other?
I am guilty of thinking being brave means I have to deny my limitations. But like the bumper rails at the bowling alley, my limits can be a gift.
My limitations keep me from getting too far off course and set me free to move into my calling with confidence.
It’s important for me to start here, because it can be easy for me to get busy dreaming and starting and changing the world. And there may be nothing wrong with that until I realize I forgot to plan dinner for next week and totally missed a dentist appointment this morning.
I have limited time, resources, and energy. It’s true, I don’t have a limited God. But that doesn’t mean I am to try to become God myself.
God submitted himself to the greatest possible limitation when he came down to earth. Skin? Are you kidding me? Harness the power of the Almighty Creator within the delicate confines of two lungs and capillaries and a digestive system?
Don’t despise your limitations. Learn to work within them. Let them be guard rails for the way you spend your time and your energy.
For example, it takes a long time for me to be honest. Not that I lie – I’m not a liar. I just have a delayed response to what is true. I can’t always tell in the moment how I feel about something, don’t always know right after I read a passage if I agree with it or not.
I admire people with strong opinions. I might even be one of them if I had more time to think about it.
My personal processing time is a limitation, one I have to be honest about. But this can also be a strength. Knowing I need a long time to process means being intentional about getting that time. It forces me to slow down, to consider, to spend time thinking and praying about things. It keeps me dependent on Jesus.
This may not serve me well on a debate team, but that’s why I’m not on a debate team. I will also never run for office or do improv comedy.
See how helpful it is to know my own limits?
2. Embrace your giftedness.
God gave the world the gift of Jesus, but he did it through a person.
Mary didn’t seem to feel embarrassed or ashamed about this gift, didn’t feel the need to explain herself or manufacture some kind of humility. Receiving the gift given to her by God was the most humble thing she could do. Accepting God’s favor of her was worship.
She didn’t hide out and question his call over her life. Her soul magnified the Lord and her spirit rejoiced. Then she went to Elizabeth’s house to share the news.
Let’s do as Mary did –
Receive the gift from the hand of God.
Share the gift with others.
Mary’s willingness to cooperate with God was a choice that ushered life into the world for the rest of us. Jesus was literally within Mary and came out into the world.
And the Spirit of Jesus now lives in you. How might he want to come out?
It’s true, you have limits. But it is also true that you have abilities. They aren’t from you, but they have your fingerprints. And now Jesus wants to touch the world through the filter of your personality, your desire, your passions, and your ideas.
Stop waiting for perfect motives and a feeling of adequacy. Move anyway. Offer the gift anyway. Be who you are anyway.
3. Give yourself permission to stay in your corner of the pool.
I wrote a post a few weeks ago, explaining what a hundred lifeguards taught me about my calling. Basically, know this: you can’t lifeguard an entire pool at once. You can only safely and practically focus on a small area at a time. That small area isn’t the whole pool, but it is still important.
Brave doesn’t necessarily mean big. Sometimes it means small and specific (this day, this child, this sickness, this meal). It also means trusting other people with their tasks, with their corner of the pool.
Are you waiting to feel ready? If so, you might be waiting for a long time.
Sometimes there is no ready. There is only belief.
Reminding myself of limits, my giftedness and my calling generally give me courage to move into my world as the woman I already am. This is courage building all by itself.
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If you aren’t aware of your limits, your giftedness, or your calling?
I wrote a book called A Million Little Ways with the sole purpose of introducing practices to help you uncover the art you were born to make and what it means to release it into the world. I believe when Jesus lives within us, he wants to come out through our lives. But that will look different for you than it does for me.
He came down to come in, and came in to come out, and he’ll do it in a million little ways. The book will release in November and is now available for pre-order. Visit Chatting at the Sky to learn more.