Updated: Jan 7
By Sarah Butterfield
God's Brave Women - Sarah's Story
After a lifetime of going, the bravest thing I’ve ever done was to stay.
My story starts with the bravery of my parents, when they left everything they knew in California to become lifelong missionaries in France. I was seven when we moved, oblivious to the fact that I should have felt some measure of fear, and instead felt only excitement.
I was fourteen when my parents sent me to a boarding school for missionary kids in Germany. I left my family behind and moved to a different country without an ounce of fear in my heart, only too grateful to leave difficult French public schools behind.
And when I turned eighteen and it was time to go to college, I flew to the United States - a country that felt so foreign to me despite what my passport said - and started a new life on my own.
Flashy moves across countries and continents was not bravery on my part, it was simply what had to be done. As is so often the case, my act of bravery happened in a still, quiet moment, with a gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit.
"As is so often the case, my act of bravery happened in a still, quiet moment, with a gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit."
I was alone in my dorm room. My high school friends from my boarding school in Germany had scattered across North America, and I was the only one who had chosen to come to Calvin College in Michigan. I was here to learn how to teach children who were deaf and hard-of-hearing, and I was only a few months into the program.
Knowing my purpose in this new place didn’t make it any easier. I grieved the loss of my high school years, so rich with friendships and belonging, like I would grieve the loss of an actual person. I had just come back to campus from a weekend trip to visit some high school friends at Taylor University in Indiana. Seeing my old friends was a balm to my soul, and on the drive back to my own college, my eyes clouded over with tears, and then with fatigue. I pulled over at a rest stop and napped for a few hours. When I woke up, I had the most delicious thought: what if I transferred to Taylor?
I sent for the transfer application paperwork. As it made its way in the mail, I convinced myself that switching my entire major, the course of study I was so passionate about, wouldn’t be that big of a deal, especially if it would mean that I could stop feeling so lonely.
The documents came in a large white envelope. I waited until my roommate left our room before I opened it. I slid out the shiny brochures and paperwork, thinking of good friends who would already be there waiting for me. Leaving would be easy; there would be nothing and no one to miss. I fingered the papers, felt the weight of them in my hands. From some place deep inside of me, I felt it more than I heard it: "No", the Voice said. I dropped the contents of the white envelope into the trash can, its dull thud bringing a sense of fear and a sense of calm all at once.
I knew my purpose in this place had not yet been completed. As lonely and as hard as the road was, taking a different path would be running away from all that God had in store for me: both the struggle and the joy. After a lifetime of moving, the bravest thing I ever did was to stay, throwing away an easy chance at happiness and choosing instead to pursue my God-given calling.
"After a lifetime of moving, the bravest thing I ever did was to stay, throwing away an easy chance at happiness and choosing instead to pursue my God-given calling."
Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Cor. 15:58, NIV)
Looking back on that time of my life, I can say with full confidence that my decision was not made in vain. Some beautiful fruit came from that difficult season, and it all started with a quiet moment of bravery.
Brave Woman Manifesto
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story!
And by the way...
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Sarah K. Butterfield is a missionary kid from France who currently makes her home in San Diego with her husband and two boys. As a women’s ministry leader and writer, she is passionate about helping women live out their kingdom calling by pursuing missional moments in the everyday. Feel free to connect with her more @www.sarahkbutterfield.com, as well as Instagram and Facebook.