By Melissa C. Dyer
God's Brave Women - Melissa's Story
Even as I pulled on the handle and timidly walked inside, I was surprised to find myself moving forward. Voluntarily choosing to brave the pain. It was my daughter who wanted a tattoo for her seventeenth birthday. I can’t remember exactly when I became her sidekick, but here I was, and there was no turning back now. Our tattoo artist’s name was Brittney and I was thankful another woman would be there to lead me through the process. I quickly confided in her my fear and admitted, “I avoid physical pain.” This little tattoo I was about to get would require me to be brave. Mostly because it was voluntary. Yes, I’ve endured much greater physical pain; I’ve birthed two children via cesarean section. I’ve had my wrist completely shattered and rebuilt – plates and screws included, and I live with chronic back pain from scoliosis. These are all examples of unavoidable pain, but this was different. Choosing to brave the pain is why getting a tattoo was so hard for me.
Thankfully, she disarmed my fear little by little until I slid myself onto the black vinyl chair. It was the length of my body and almost comfortable, had it not been for the inking process I would endure. The pain was tolerable and short in duration. And once we were both marked my daughter and I took some cute photos together and off they went – straight to Instagram. It only took a few seconds for the comments to flood in. One word became the headline of our whole experience. Edgy. I guess we did venture out that day with boldness.
Later, on our way home, it began to rain, and the steady beating of the windshield wipers sent my mind adrift somewhere else and I began thinking about tattoos. No one on my side of the family had tattoos, that is, except my sister. I had remembered she tattooed someone’s name to her arm. And that’s all it took to bring me back to a whole different kind of edgy, another place I had braved the pain...
The first time I pulled up to the detox center where she was under 24-hour care I noticed the 12-foot chain link fence outlining the perimeter right away. I was immediately on edge. The harsh metal division between my everyday ordinary life and this place communicated a lack of safety. Truth be told, I didn’t feel safe. That’s what can happen when broken people don’t brave their pain. They become unsafe to others. And there was no getting around the reality that she wasn’t safe, to herself or others, at this point.
"As Jesus followers, we are taught a lot about love and forgiveness. We’re taught to turn the other cheek, go the second mile, and bless those who curse us, but applying these tenants takes wisdom. Especially in our families when safety and boundaries in relationships are more easily threatened. Where is the fine line when we are able to be both safe and loving to those who can hurt us?"
As Jesus followers, we are taught a lot about love and forgiveness. We’re taught to turn the other cheek, go the second mile, and bless those who curse us, but applying these tenants takes wisdom. Especially in our families when safety and boundaries in relationships are more easily threatened. Where is the fine line when we are able to be both safe and loving to those who can hurt us? In a faith that is so pointed to reaching others, it’s important to remember, Jesus doesn’t walk over His beloved to reach out to the unsaved world. He works through us; loves us first as He uses our lives as an invitation for others to follow Him. That’s what enabled me to brave the pain that day, His love working through me.
Even embracing her put me on edge. The fear of caring and loving mixed with the hurt and pain that had invaded my life with her addiction filled me. All the boundary lines were as smudged as my tear-soaked mascara. How could I show love and keep myself safe at the same time? The pain of being entangled in the addiction of a loved one is acute. Our family relationships were designed to be safe havens from this crazy world. We all need intimacy to let our guard down and we usually experience this intimacy in the context of family. But that’s been altogether elusive for me. A pain I carry with me always. I’m comforted to know that Jesus knew this would be my walk. Here are a few scriptures I’ve leaned on during the hardest of times:
“Perhaps you think I’ve come to spread peace and calm over the earth—but my coming will bring conflict and division, not peace. Because of me, a son will turn against his father, a daughter her mother and against her mother-in-law. Within your own families you will find enemies. (Matthew 10:34-36 TPT)
Jesus replied, “Listen to my words: anyone who leaves his home behind and chooses God’s kingdom realm over wife, children, parents, and family, it will come back to him many more times in this lifetime. And in the age to come, he will inherit even more than that—he will inherit eternal life!” (Luke 18:29-30 TPT)
It’s my heart’s deepest desire that all my family members would have the same intimate relationship I enjoy with Jesus. The kind that brings about transformation. I desire this not only for their salvation and benefit but also, selfishly so that I might enjoy the intimacy and safety that I always hoped these relationships could offer. But even after 20 years, this is not so. Instead, I’ve braved deep emotional pain as a result of their choices, their exercise of will.
If this is something you’ve been braving yourself, you are not alone. Even though this kind of burden isn’t widely spoken of, it is carried by many of your brothers and sisters in Christ. Loving our addicted family and friends is heavy and held privately too often. We need to share this pain in the healing presence of Christian community where it can be lifted and healed in healthy relationships. If you’re holding on to this kind of pain, be brave and share it.
"Loving our addicted family and friends is heavy and held privately too often. We need to share this pain in the healing presence of Christian community where it can be lifted and healed in healthy relationships. If you’re holding on to this kind of pain, be brave and share it."
My sister is gone now and one of the other things we shared in life is our birthday. It’s almost too much to know that every year I will feel the cut of this pain, a reminder. Yes, the loss will be forever tattooed on my soul, but I’ll always know that I braved the pain to the dangerous edge of reaching out to love her. And because of Jesus, I look forward to the ultimate healing for both of us. One day His promise will be fulfilled.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and eliminate death entirely. No one will mourn or weep any longer. The pain of wounds will no longer exist, for the old order has ceased.” (Revelation 21:4 TPT)
Brave Woman Manifesto
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story!
And by the way...
You are Brave!
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Melissa C. Dyer is a writer and podcaster who has lots to say about courage. She believes that all women need encouragement and a Champion in their corner. Her first book, Learning to Roar, is releasing in September of 2020. Melissa knows first-hand how easy it is to fall into a pit of discouragement. Helping women understand how to cultivate courage in their everyday ordinary life and climb out of the pit, is her passion. Melissa resides in sunny South Florida with her husband, two teenage children, and two fur babies.
You can keep in touch with Melissa on Instagram, Facebook and on her website www.MelissaCDyer.com. Make sure to listen to her weekly podcast www.TheCostIsCourage.com (available on all podcast platforms).