Updated: Jan 7, 2020
By Holley Gerth
God's Brave Women - Holley's Story
The wind blows cold against my back as I walk along the streets in the quiet suburb where I live. I think of other days when I've walked this same path with much on my mind. Losses. Hurts. Dreams laid down.
And I think of loved ones who have felt the chilly breath of trouble on their hopes too. Mamas who have said goodbye to babies. Teens who have survived abuse. Folks who have battled cancer. It's a cold world sometimes. Some of those folks have come out of those times with greater strength, tenderness, and resilience. Others have become bitter and hard. I quietly ask myself, "What makes the difference?"
As I ponder this question, I think back to one particularly painful season in my life. It seemed sorrow, frustration, and disappointment threatened to overtake me. I wanted to shut down my heart, lock the door of my life, and let bitterness move in as my only companion. Yet God seemed to keep whispering, "Yield, yield, yield."
I grew up in a place where hurricanes were frequent, and I learned this: the trees that survive are the ones that bend. Tough times do one of two things - they reshape us or they break us. And the choice is up to us.
"Tough times do one of two things - they reshape us or they break us. And the choice is up to us."
If we stiffen our souls and harden our hearts, then the wind blows against us until we break to our core. But if we can bend - keep trusting, hoping, loving - then we are transformed in ways beyond our understanding.
Oh, we will have days when we experience deep grief and anger. That's okay - it's actually part of yielding. We let ourselves feel our emotions and wave them wildly for a bit like branches. It's when we stop feeling that we should begin to worry. When we fake it. Or when we insist on having our own way. When we quit believing God is good because he did not give us what we wanted.
I've talked with thousands of women about life's difficulties. And I have found this: It is not the circumstance or even the depth of the hurt that determines who heals. It's the response. Those who somehow thrive never lose their softness. You can see it in their eyes. You can hear it in their voices. You can tell it by the way they are still kind to others. Oh, they are fierce, these women. Tenderness and tenacity are sisters. But they are not steel inside. Yes, here's the secret we can cling to when the wind comes: life is hard, but our hearts do not have to be... because of Jesus.
"Here's the secret we can cling to when the wind comes: life is hard, but our hearts do not have to be... because of Jesus."
When he is our security, we don't have to protect ourselves by stiffening our souls. We don't have to make ourselves "unbreakable" because we are so afraid. We don't have to shut out anything that might make us weak - like love, hope, or kindness. We can be brave.
As I reach my house again, the wind has stilled to almost a whisper. The trees are at peace. They stretch their branches high toward the last of the sun's rays. It looks like an act of hope. Or perhaps of praise.
God, you understand how hard it is to live in this world sometimes. You know how to handle hurt and fear while still choosing love and grace. Help our hearts be both strong and tender like yours. Amen.
The Brave Woman Manifesto
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story!
And by the way...
You are Brave! No matter what you are facing, God has made you in His image, which means you are full of His strength and grit. I would love to connect with you more and give you a FREE gift - the BRAVE WOMAN MANIFESTO: Five Things to Tell Yourself When Life Gets Hard. Click HERE to sign up for my monthly newsletter and you’ll receive the free Manifesto, as well as recent blog posts, updated resources and personal details delivered only to my lovely email tribe.
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Holley Gerth is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author, certified life coach, and speaker with a master’s degree in counseling. She loves connecting with the hearts of women through her popular blog and books like You’re Already Amazing, Fiercehearted and now Strong, Brave, Loved. She’s also cofounder of (in)courage and a partner with DaySpring. Holley lives with her husband, Mark, in the South. Feel free to connect with her more at www.holleygerth.com.