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The Hard Way after 9 Months

I have now decided that I am a firm believer that boundaries can unlock freedom and creativity of the mind and spirit. If we were just handed everything, there would be no innovation, no struggle to find a better way, and no victory! Because people are unsatisfied with the way things were, we have so many great inventions, tools, businesses, technology, websites, and services. They learned the Hard way, and decided that they wanted to create a future that didn’t have to deal with the same hard realities, but would learn and discover new ways to improve and build. Those individuals wanted their ceiling to be our floor, and for countless people, it has been just that. However, while the general population seems to be quick to learn technology tricks and standards from the previous generations, we tend to forget the spiritual, emotional and relational battles that the generations before us have already fought. We find ourselves in the same positions as many who came before us, and often end up worse. Why is this?! 

We don’t let someone’s hard way become our easy way. We have to do it the hard way ourselves. Now some of this is human nature, I get it. We have to try and fail sometimes and eventually we learn what it takes to succeed and are better and stronger because of it. However, what if I actually listened to my mom or observed the way she grew and progressed emotionally and spiritually and set my floor at her ceiling? What if I stood on her shoulders instead of trying to look her in the eye? What if I used the wisdom she gained and applied it to my own life?

We do too much talking, instead of asking questions of our elders and listening! 

I’ve tried to do this more in the past week. Asking and listening. Learning and making wise, but necessary changes. It’s hard! 

While I have had my losses and victories of living the hard way the past 9 months, the question within me is this: how can I live a “hard way” lifestyle and still stay sane? 

I am reminded of the quote that we heard at the global leadership summit, “learn from everyone, live like no one.”

We can all learn from each other in some way, but none of us should try to copy the way another lives! For a while, I tried to live the hard way how someone else knew and described it. Now, I think I am finding my own hard way. What is yours? 

To Be Or Not To Be…You

This year has been about pursuing “This is Me”, my identity. Since I’ve invited God to show me who I am, it’s been a heavy battle of letting go of what I’ve believed about myself in exchange for the truth of who He has already created me to be.

If I’ve always been who He says I am, then the question I have to ask myself is: What has kept me from fully embracing it all this time? I believe that false humility has played a significant role in my denial of who I am. False humility hides behind an incorrect perception of humility. False humility is pride cloaking itself as humility. For example, do you often disagree with people when they pay you a compliment or have some kind of rebuttal? Yep, that’s false humility.

I think there is a constant underlying fear of either being perceived as arrogant or not being good enough. In reality, true humility admits the truth. Pride blinds, distracts, and slows down the process of growth. I’ve said in the past that it’s not the truth that hurts but the removal of pride that leaves a powerful sting.

While reading a book called ‘The Marketplace Paradigm”, I realized that I never gave myself permission to be successful. Some part of me withheld the possibility of actually seeing my visions come to pass. It was a turning point in my thinking. I decided that I’m finished pretending I can’t have it all. I am supposed to dream big and have the audacity to believe it can be done. I’ve had to admit that I’ve placed limits on my God-given potential.

It is never too late to get it. God has been waiting for this moment. He has been waiting for you to align yourself with the truth and allow it to set you free. In this freedom you don’t count yourself out and decide that someone else is more qualified. In this freedom you assume that He has set you up for success.

I finally admit that I am a gifted artist and speaker. I challenge you to no longer ignore the compliments and affirmation that come your way. People notice what you are good at and have a tendency to tell you. Ask a co-worker, friend or family member to tell you what they see in you. There is nothing that you lack in gifts. They point you to who you are.

What visions have God played on repeat all your life? What are you passionate about? Take a moment to wholly accept who you are and give yourself permission to just ‘be’. Don’t let false humility get in the way. It’s time to finally admit how truly incredible you are.

Say What You Need to Say

Fear is a funny thing. Sometimes it’s rational. Like if there is a bear standing in front of you in the wilderness, fear would be pretty appropriate. But more often than not, fear is irrational, and irrational fear keeps from doing a lot of rational things. One of the rational things that irrational fear deters us from doing is saying what we need to say. Why is it so scary to be honest? Well, in relationships, we are usually afraid of how someone might react. We go through all the scenarios in our head and try to figure out if that person will be angry, sad, annoyed, emotional, confused.

I get it. Confrontation is not pleasant. It can be hard and sometimes painful. But it’s worse to let things go on how they are and push your thoughts and feelings under the rug. I’m all too familiar with this process. I don’t want to deal with stuff so I’ll just pretend it’s not there and usually distract myself with the busyness of life. Spoiler alert: It shoves its way out from under the rug eventually and I WILL have to deal with it. UGH! So annoying, but so true. In a relationship, it will surface again if you don’t deal with it now.

Every stage of dating comes with a decision to be completely honest and up-front, or to alter your behavior and dialogue to keep someone interested. From the first date forward, you either decide to be yourself or who someone else wants you to be. It’s so easy to do this when you like the person sitting across from you. But the problem is that neither of you will know if you’re actually a good fit unless you say what you think. I have struggled with this time and time again. My dating experiences have historically been full of trying to impress a guy instead of being the woman God created me to be and being OK with it. Not everyone is going to want what you have to offer, but that’s a good thing.

Know what you stand for, speak up for what you want, and if your S.O. breaks up with you because of it, they weren’t right for you in the first place. Do what is right for you, and the right person will love you even more for it. Be brave, ladies! Stop letting fear of a negative reaction deter you from saying what you need to say.

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.

Failing At Failure

What would my life look like without insecurity and the fear of failure? Who would I be? I asked myself this before starting an internal journey of uncovering what truly makes me who I am. Since then, I’ve been placed in situations that have caused me to analyze my life from a different vantage point. God’s point-of-view.

In the past 3 years, I’ve experienced a lot of changes, loss, and transition. This has caused me to question what I want out of life and if I’m even on the right track. Was I as creative as I thought? Do I really want to pursue the big dream of building a successful creative lifestyle and events business? Distrust in my ability to make big things happen in my life had subtly settled in. Last fall, after a particular bout of self-doubt and tears,  I decided that these feelings of defeat could not possibly match God’s perspective of who I am and what I am capable of.

On the final day of a conference I recently attended I had a breakthrough in my perspective. Ryan Leak shared about his experience with “chasing failure” and how it doesn’t mean anything more than the fact that you tried something. I finally understood what God has been trying to get me to understand for months if not years. I thought that failure was a something negative that you avoided at all cost. Rather, it’s a natural part of the process of success. When you really think about it, what is so bad about failure? What does criticism of others matter in the face of what God thinks?

I’ve realized that I’ve been holding back in areas of my life because of a sense of inadequacy that had gone undetected. From relationships to the pursuit of entrepreneurship, my perspective about myself clearly did not match who I truly am.

Here are some recent revelations:
1. I have never experienced lack in my life. It may not have looked or came the way I thought, but God has always come through for me.
2. You cannot help who you are not around. Despite all the ways I can fail people, I have to have grace for myself. I can make an impact in people’s lives if I get over myself enough to be present. The world is waiting for me to be who I am called to be.
3. Not having excuses is the scary part. Persevering and attaining my dreams is up to me and no one else. I have to recognize that I’m not in this alone and that God has given me the resources and support I need to do well. It can be done.

What would the absence of fear and negative ideas reveal about you? The things that don’t work out are not necessarily an indicator of the final outcome. Don’t be discouraged; brave on. God has set you up to win.  I leave you with the question Ryan Leak asked an arrested crowd of 8,000 people:

“What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”

Don’t Settle for Pigs

Dating is hard. If you’re single, you know what I’m talking about, and if you’re not, you still have experienced some rocky times on the road to a relationship. Bad dates, awkward encounters, the list goes on and on. Why does it feel so hard to find that special someone? I don’t know about you, but one of my biggest issues is having patience. Ugh–that word. It’s not too sexy. Patience seems blah and boring. It sounds like the opposite of taking charge and being “brave” according to the common perception of the word. Most associate the word brave with “YES.” Saying yes to an opportunity or yes to taking a chance.

My dating experiences have taught me that often the bravest thing you can do is not to say “yes,” but to say “no.” Saying “no” to going farther than you’re comfortable in physical terms takes bravery too, but for this post, I’m talking specifically about saying “no” to a relationship that’s not what you want. I have known dating couples who aren’t truly happy in a relationship, yet they continue to put up with their partner for a variety of reasons. One of the most common reasons is that they are afraid they won’t find anyone else. I’ve certainly felt this way and it’s contributed to my staying in relationships longer than I should have.

This idea that you won’t find anyone else to love you is a straight up lie. It’s a big fat lie that breeds fear and insecurity.

If you’re with someone who is not treating you how you want to be treated or something just feels “off,” it’s time to say buh-bye.

Realizing this does not mean you’re high maintenance or your expectations are too high. It is being confident enough to know you can have what you want. Maybe not this second, but it’s out there. The saying “there are other fish in the sea” is 100% true. If you caught the wrong fish, say no. Say no to that “off” feeling inside.

Don’t settle for pigs when you deserve pearls.

Be brave enough to realize what you want, be okay with it, and do not settle for less. It might feel like a gamble. But staying with someone you aren’t compatible with is even more of a gamble. I don’t know about you, but that’s not a bet I’m willing to make. Stop believing the lie that no one else will love you. You ARE lovable, and you deserve pearls. God says so, and that’s not a gamble.

 

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.

Ending the FOMO

I’ve had several opportunities to be brave in my life. We all have, haven’t we? Speaking your mind, taking chances, and even talking to a stranger can be exercises in bravery. Recently, my biggest opportunity to be brave involved my post-graduation plans. After studying abroad and interning in New York within a year, all I wanted to be was home. New York was stressful and scary and hectic—and it terrified me. I wanted to spend time with friends and family, and be in a cozy little apartment where I had full control of my life and my environment.

After a summer off, my priority was finding a job. Unfortunately, opportunities seemed plentiful in the place from which I had come RUNNING back to Texas at the end of my internship—New York City. I decided to do one of the things that scared me most and move back. I had some contacts and went in hopes of getting a job within a month or so. The interviews were intimidating. Walking into the corporate offices of companies like Ralph Lauren and Estee Lauder was unnerving to me, but I went anyway. Believe it or not, I was even making my peace with the city. Six weeks and a dozen interviews later, nothing was working out.

Frustrated with the NYC job market, I began to toy with searching in Dallas. Going home might seem like a no-brainer, but I worried what people would think. I didn’t want to be that girl who went to New York with a big dream only to give up. I was embarrassed. I was also afraid of missing an opportunity. In millennial terms, the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) was real.

The flaw in my thought process? FOMO is irrational. No matter where we are, we’re always “missing out” on something else. We can’t be everywhere at once, and that’s okay. It was time to let it go and be honest with myself about my real goal: to find a job. As soon as I deemed FOMO for what it is—(silly)—God opened a door. Within a week of applying for jobs in Texas, I got something.

Stop being crippled by the fear of missing out. Fear-based mentalities won’t help you achieve your goals. (Tweet it!) Instead, channel bravery in your everyday life. You will find the possibilities are endless!”

You can follow Rachel’s adventures

If you would like to share a brave story along your journey, fill out a contact form here!

Update: I’ll Trust You

Last month the women of Brave Avenue shared more behind our themes for 2016. One of the areas I have struggled with is the idea of not being good enough. As a result, I would take myself out of the game before I would even start. I want to update you on how I’m walking out my theme to trust God and say ‘yes’ to opportunities that scare me. Read on to find out what happens when you face your fears and stay in the game.

1. You become more confident.

In my last post I shared my process of learning to lead worship and how difficult it was. I had to humble myself and accept that it was taking me longer than I anticipated to become great at leading. In order to further develop my skills, I asked one of the leaders to mentor me. She graciously accepted and helped me during practice and then spent additional hours in the week with me. Doing this released anxiety and helped me to focus, which allowed me to lead at a greater capacity. Each time I worked with her, I got better. Preperation was a key to building up my confidence. Insecurity causes you to place your attention in the wrong areas-your own negative thoughts and what others may think about you. When you are confident, you can have more fun, be present and enjoy your adventure!

2. You can see the rare beauty of your process.

Choosing bravery means you choose to confront your fears wholeheartedly. With your whole heart, unwavering devotion, intense enthusiasm, with certainty, you confront your fear or challenge. Your process won’t alway be graceful, but He who is full of grace will carry you through when you wa nt to quit. Those who endure the process, have the privilege to see the rare beauty of finishing.

3. You inspire others.

When I see someone else living bravely it spurs something inside of me! It makes me want to get up and do something! Our bravery can change the course of a life. Think about the last time you were inspired to do something great. Who inspired you? What did they say or do? How did you feel? That feeling is what others feel when YOU choose to live bravely.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela

So, what Brave thing will you do today?

Share in the comments section below.

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