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Finding Bravery in Ordinary World-Changing

By Elisa Johnston

God's Brave Women - Elisa's Story


I used to think there was one way to change the world.

It was outward. It was expansive. The bigger the better.


Whether I was on an actual soapbox preaching to a crowd on a tiny South Pacific island or cooking meal for an orphanage in Mexico, the less ordinary the better.


That was fine and good until I moved to the richest suburbs in the U.S., home of white picket fences and two-point-five kids. Not only did I not fit in, but my anger at injustices–and others’ indifference to them–was bursting. Throw in an early marriage and some babies, and I was drowning. My life was normal. In many ways to others, it probably appeared perfect. But to me it was far from wonderful. A wrench was thrown into my plans to change the world.


This is when many wonderful mom bloggers will tell you how they went on to find fulfillment and joy as they took care of their homes. And although many women do, I wasn’t one of them. It felt scary and even wrong to long for more–wasn’t homemaking supposed to fulfill me? I desperately wanted to escape my ordinary life, and I desperately wanted to do big meaningful things, like change laws and start orphanages.


 

"It felt scary and even wrong to long for more–wasn’t homemaking supposed to fulfill me?"

 

For years I wrestled, bravely doing the right thing, serving my family and holding my responsibilities. And yet while nursing my littles in the wee hours, I would stay up writing papers and blog posts on social issues, like how to help with the refugee crisis, lamenting a school shooting, or compiling advocacy ideas for human trafficking awareness.


My kids became my tag-alongs. They came with me in a wagon to a protest. Or there was the time I wore no shoes for a day from the dentist to the grocery store to start conversations about poverty. Because of my “bigger is better” mindset, living an ordinary life felt brave. But so was believing I could still make a difference, even from where I was.


 

"Because of my “bigger is better” mindset, living an ordinary life felt brave. But so was believing I could still make a difference, even from where I was."

 

Over that decade, I matured and learned a lot the hard way. I was able to move past anger about social issues that triggered my buttons into action and God grew my love for the people I disagreed with. Not only did I help lead and start human trafficking organizations, school feeding programs and ministries, but my heart also changed to appreciate the small and simple. I began to enjoy loving my own family and the people who shared our home over different seasons.


Somewhere in there I realized my passion to change the world was a bit misguided–not because it wasn’t important. But because I had taken the burden to rescue others on my shoulders, as if I was God. When I burned out doing good, breaking free from lies that told me my worth was in how I served was an essential part of my own recovery.


 

"My passion to change the world was a bit misguided–not because it wasn’t important. But because I had taken the burden to rescue others on my shoulders, as if I was God. When I burned out doing good, breaking free from lies that told me my worth was in how I served was an essential part of my own recovery."

 

I could write a book with all the lessons I learned in that decade, to help other everyday women avoid these pitfalls as they make a difference (and I am). But the truth is, my story isn’t so unique. We all go through journeys as we figure out who we are in God and where we fit. Some of these journeys are chronicled here–it is one of the reasons the Brave Women Series even exists!


But although most of us are trying to figure out life, soaking in the good things in the midst of adulthood, many of us have settled for too much ordinary in our everyday lives. We might claim the axiom, “Bloom where you’re planted.” But how many of us are brave enough to imagine what blooming really looks like? What uncalculatable good can be born of us being fully alive–where we then pour out of our overflow!


 

"We might claim the axiom, “Bloom where you’re planted.” But how many of us are brave enough to imagine what blooming really looks like?"

 

In fact, I’d venture to say most women I know long for something to change in the world–injustice, someone’s suffering, a broken system–but too often we believe that is the realm of the idealistic young. Or for those without our never-ending, always morphing adult responsibilities.


I can sadly say of the countless women I’ve spoken to, the greatest hindrance for them to be engaging and shaping the world isn’t really lack of opportunity, childcare, or time. It is their own doubt and unbelief. Not just in themselves, but in God’s unique plan for their lives.


 

"Of the countless women I’ve spoken to, the greatest hindrance for them to be engaging and shaping the world isn’t really lack of opportunity, childcare, or time. It is their own doubt and unbelief. Not just in themselves, but in God’s unique plan for their lives."

 

What if both were possible? What if bravery was believing there is something great and fulfilling that God wants to unfold in our ordinary lives–and it includes making a difference in the areas that seem out of our league?


 

"What if bravery was believing there is something great and fulfilling that God wants to unfold in our ordinary lives–and it includes making a difference in the areas that seem out of our league?"

 

Lord, help our unbelief so that we might become brave.


I am not famous. I am not rich by America’s standards. I don’t have a hundred thousand followers on Instagram, let alone the coveted ten thousand. But I’ll be a poster child declaring that the everyday woman is really the greatest world changer of them all.


While you learn how to fill from the ultimate source, Jesus, and giving from His overflow, don’t shy away from dreams to make a major impact on the world. You might not see your influence, but it is strong, powerful, and grows when you choose the next right thing.


 

"I’ll be a poster child declaring that the everyday woman is really the greatest world changer of them all. While you learn how to fill from the ultimate source, Jesus, and giving from His overflow, don’t shy away from dreams to make a major impact on the world."


 

Join me by bravely believing that together, what we do matters and indeed, does change the world.


 

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 He equips you with His courage, strength, and power. I would love to connect 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 empowered email tribe.


AS A BONUS… Subscribers will also be the first to receive news regarding the book I am writing with Moody Publishers! SIGN UP for more info on my book’s release and availability.


 

About Elisa


Elisa Johnston empowers ordinary people to be fully alive while making the difference they were born to make at Average Advocate. She procrastinates on Instagram and brings freedom to the exploited through Blackout Trafficking.


Whenever and wherever she can, she explores with her four littles. Thankfully, God, her husband, and other favorite introverts are all particularly grounding, because otherwise her Enneagram 7 passions would compel her into a creative oblivion.


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