Courage. Part 1

“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort, choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.” ~Brene Brown

I have never really considered myself a “courageous” person. I rarely take risks, I generally like to play it safe. I like comfortable. I like routine. I thrive better that way. However, I do take living with integrity and living by my values as very important. This has forced me to “choose courage over comfort” as Brene says, numerous times in my life. My integrity and my values are very important to me. And so, if I want to respect those things, I have to live that way. I can’t compromise. Simply saying, “I am a loyal friend” means nothing unless I am practicing that. Saying I value relationships means nothing unless ‘I am showing up in these relationships, in good times and bad.

Living this way takes immense courage. I don’t mean the type of courage to go on a sailboat ride when you are scared of the water, or fly in a plane when you are terrified of flying. Although there are similarities in this type of courage, I’m talking about the courage to continue to show up for the people in our lives. Courage to forgive an offense. Courage to take a deep breath and think the best of someone. Courage to not let our hurts and past get in the way of a right now relationship. Courage to open ourselves up and dig deeper when you don’t think you can show up emotionally for that person any more. It takes immense courage.

However, what is the flip side? Sacrificing our values? Not living with integrity? I’d rather choose courage, choose the right, choose integrity and choose my values over a half assed attempt at courage.

You can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability. ~Brene Brown

Welcome!!

Back in early 2005, the ancient days of blogging, I hesitantly began a blog on blogspot and called it "Ruminations of a Birch Mama". That cumbersome and annoying name soon transitioned to a place I called "The Flourishing Mother".  I blogged there for 8 years, and in 2013, felt I had no more to say, and stopped.

Going with the latest trend of naming your website after yourself, I decided to create another online space this year. A place to share my thoughts, preach to myself, and share the lovely.  My life looks a lot different than it did when I blogged in the cracks with 5 young children. I'm in a different place in my life and my writing reflects where I am now. I am so grateful for this space and love that it grows and changes along with me.

You can read more about me in my About page. 

I hope to write about searching for beauty in our lives, as well as living in the truth that God has given each of us, individually.

I love exploring how to live an artist life as a busy mother, and the new landscape of modern mothering. 

What is under all of this is my deep commitment to Christ, and how my faith in Him is integral to every aspect of my life.

XO. Andrea

PS. Be sure to subscribe to my blog so we can stay connected! You will receive my seasonal newsletter, as well as three illustrations by friend and artist Karen Schipper depicting modern mothers.

 

KS Print Preview-01.png

Many thanks to Erin Nausin of Primavera Studios for collaborating with me to create this space. She was so easy to work with and so talented! 

hope.

The beginning of the school year, for me, offers a chance to begin again. It offers a new start, and rightly so, it is a Beginning for many of us. So, being the person I am, I embrace this chance to re-assess, re-evaluate, gather myself, and look forward to what’s ahead.

Right now also marks the time where, a little over a year ago, a special person to me dropped out of my life. This was a friend in which I was very close with. The level of trust was so deep, that many times, before sharing the deepest parts of myself, I would preface it with “tree of trust, right?”. This meant, “you’ve got my back, right?” “you love me no matter what I share or how I act, right?”. That’s some deep level trust that you don’t just have with anyone. Vulnerable trust.

I honestly to this day don’t understand the full extent of what happened, and that grieves me. It’s been very hard to move on. I’m not sure why. Partly my personality of wanting closure and understanding, but also I think when you invest yourself into a person and a relationship for so long, it’s hard to entangle yourself. At least for me it is. It’s sad, and painful and confusing to let go.

There came a time when I had to stop dwelling on it all and move towards healing. For my own sake and sanity.  It took many anguishing days and nights, but I had to move towards patience and prayer. I had to make peace with the person who hurt me.

I realized that I had to stop needing an explanation, needing understanding, needing honest communication, even needing some sort of reconciliation. (Which I did want.) I had to simply offer grace and forgive. (not so simple!)

A quote that helped me move on and offer grace and forgive was one by Henri Nouwen:

“We have gotten wounded along the way by the very people who love us–our parents, our children, our colleagues, our friends and spouses. Because no one can meet our deepest needs for love, so must we learn to forgive.”

I say I was able to offer grace and forgive, but this was not done without a fight. The human spirit wants immediate gratification, justification and the insatiable need to come out on top. Offering grace is meekness and humbleness. It’s choosing to say “I don’t need to understand your motives, I don’t need to be right, I don’t need to explain my version.” In fact, I don’t need anything at all because I have Jesus.

Writer Kent Nerburn says:

“The only path to forgiveness is learning to see the world through different eyes. The world will not change; we must change. We must find a way to replace yearning for what life has withheld with gratitude for what we have been given.”

Moving towards grace, living a #gracefilledlife, (which, after much wrestling and resistance, is actually a very free place to live), also opens us to seeing about what the Lord wanted us to learn from all this. If we have eyes to see, He will teach us valuable lessons through heartache and trial. I can say I am grateful for all I have learned.

I have learned:

  1. Texting is not the medium I want to have emotionally charged discussions. It’s also not the place where I can understand someone’s explanations. It’s also never a place to have an honest conversation. So much is lost in translation: body language, tone, even words are misunderstood. I will never have a serious back and forth through texting. It never turns out good.
  2. That I have to give up my right for understanding in relationships. It’s actually not a right. Any misunderstandings or arguments I’ve had with people I love in my life usually involved honest discussion in order to figure out what went wrong, try to understand each other and move on. I realized  that not everyone is like that and that I have to give up my right for that and offer grace again.
  3. I want to do a good job of loving people. I have learned through this experience that to live bravely and wholeheartedly is to live my truth. I won’t let others dictate how I will respond in any situation. My goal is to live truthfully and wholeheartedly and be true to myself in any given situation. This was so freeing to me and really taught me self-compassion.
  4. This experience has also taught me that I want to live a #gracefilledlife. Anything that touches me or speaks to me and I want to share on social media, I tag with #graceliving and #graceupongrace. Living in His grace is a peaceful place to be. I need to be constantly reminded of His grace. How quickly we forget!
  5.  And lastly, I have learned (once again) that suffering produces growth. Anne Morrow Lindbergh says, “I do not believe that suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable.”  Despite the pain and confusion of losing a friend who was dear to me, I am still willing to be vulnerable. I still have hope. I still have hope that perhaps one day, a mending of this relationship can be done! And that lesson of hope is as good as gold.