God's Brave Women - Gena's Story
It was sometime last fall, when my twelve-year-old daughter tossed a question at me out of the blue. She asked, “Mom, are you ever afraid”? I replied that I had worries like many other parents about their children, wives about their husbands and children about their parents. I've worried about bills and making ends meet at times. But I told her that I was not really afraid of anything. In the moment, I felt like I was being honest with her. I've lived a life of bravery because I have known one too many people who were held captive by fear. Failing to live a full life because the what-if's and worries consumed them. Fear paralyzed. Fear won. I wouldn't dare to let fear control my life. It was a decision I made and was committed to.
If you were to speak with my friends, they would probably tell you that I am one of the bravest people they know. They would use the word fearless to describe me. Years of witnessing me try my hand at new things, embracing change, walking confidently into the unknown and barging through battles victorious. This is what people see. Not that I forge a false, Instagram-worthy identity of bravery for the sake of people's opinions... it's just who I am.
After my daughter sprung that question on me, I began to ponder what she was really asking of me. I came to realize the truth – I am very much afraid, but I choose to not be pinned down by fear. Bravery is not the absence of fear but, rather, stepping out or acting in spite of fear. Bravery in spite of fear is rooted in a complete and total trust and dependence on God to protect and provide.
"Bravery is not the absence of fear but, rather, stepping out or acting in spite of fear. Bravery in spite of fear is rooted in a complete and total trust and dependence on God to protect and provide."
In February of this year, I received a phone call that I never could have anticipated. We were being asked to take temporary guardianship of two children. A teenage boy and a little girl would come to live with us for several months. In the moment of that call, I felt fear. There were so many unknown variables. Where would they sleep? How will we afford to take care of them? What school would they go to, and how would I make that work since I had my own school aged children? How would this affect my own children? Could I do this? Am I up for it? We said yes, and so began a multi-month journey for us all.
Being brave in spite of fear is a dependence on God. It becomes bearable due to a confidence in God and the support of friends and family He has placed in our lives. The support of those friends is exactly what I needed in the beginning when fear consumed me and I was starting to panic. They walked me through and encouraged me when I was tired and worn down by the extreme needs of these fragile children. And when the weight of our charge was too much to bear, and we began to see the damage it was causing to our own children, it was through my friends that I was able to understand there was braveness in admitting we could no longer care for these children. We were not equipped to meet their needs. Our children were crumbling under the emotional weight. I feared what others would think of me if we stopped fostering. I feared letting people down, people thinking I failed. And I feared what would happen to these children if they left our care... even though our lives were turned upside down.
We sometimes think bravery is the act of saying YES, going down the daunting road, taking the unexpected journey. Bravery in spite of fear will also show itself when we accept the moment we can say NO, turn down the opportunity, choose not to move. I needed someone to tell me it was okay to say we couldn't foster the children any longer. Bravery comes through dependence on God, a community of people who support you, and through the wisdom of wise council. Bravery is in spite of the many faces and facets of fear.
"We sometimes think bravery is the act of saying YES, going down the daunting road, taking the unexpected journey. Bravery in spite of fear will also show itself when we accept the moment we can say NO, turn down the opportunity, choose not to move."
I sat down with my daughter recently and shared with her the truth I had come to recognize. I shared with her that I do have fears. In my arrogance, I had come to think that fear was absent in my life because of my choice to be brave. In my confession of my own fears, I shared with her stories about those I've known where fear controlled their life and my vow to not fall into that trap. I encouraged her that I didn't want her to move forward in her life thinking she was less than because she was afraid, but rather, I wanted her to know it was okay to be afraid. It was my desire that she would not be consumed by fear but to learn to work through the fear.
She was quiet and contemplative. We talked about how we could be brave together. As I shared with her all the ways God helped me through my fears, I told her that we could go to God together on her behalf.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
I reminded her of the family and friends that God has given her, so that when fear rears its head, she knows that she is not alone.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
I encouraged her to seek wise counsel (and whom would fit that bill in her life) so she could make the best decisions. I wanted her to understand the benefit of learning from the experiences of others, regarding when to say yes and when to say no; grasping when to move forward and when to withdraw.
“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 19:20-21
You, Dear Reader, are braver than you will ever realize. Our bravery is not found in our own strength, knowledge, or determination... it is found in the God who dwells within us and the people He has gifted to us.
Gena McCown is a Women's Ministry leader in St. Lucie County, as well as the Professor of Women's Ministry at Christian Leaders Institute. She has been married for 21 years and has three daughters. Her deepest desire to help Women's Ministry flourish in the