By Abby McDonald
Brave Women Series - Abby's Story
Comparison is one of the biggest thieves of bravery.
And in today’s culture, it has never been easier for us to compare our lives, gifts and spiritual walk to someone else’s. When I sense God calling me to take a step of faith, I often get derailed when I look at another sister and think, “I’m not the person for this task. She could do this better than me.”
This happened a few years ago, when I was given my first opportunity to speak at a writers’ conference. At first, I was thrilled by the invitation and prepared my workshop with enthusiasm about what God would do. I wanted to encourage other writers to pursue their dreams and share the knowledge I’d gleaned in my own journey, and could think of no better way to do so.
Then, I pulled up the list of faculty on the conference website and read some of the bios. I was met by dozens of faces of authors and experts in the field who had decades of experience and long lists of accolades behind their names. Suddenly, instead of being eager to share my gifts, I felt inadequate. I was certain I was not the person the coordinator had in mind when she sent the email.
For the next couple of days, I thought of possible reasons I could give to not attend the conference. While I was able to come up with plenty of possibilities, I also knew backing out was not an option. God was asking me to take a step of courage, and in the end, it wasn’t about me.
When I arrived at the conference center the following fall, I was prepared. My slides were ready to go, and my talk was well rehearsed and timed. But I was still nervous. Fear of failure lurked in the back of my mind as I dined with the attendees and exchanged writing stories.
Even though the fear didn’t go away, I realized something. When I embraced my role as part of a body of believers instead of an individual fighting for her place, bravery came. I was brave because I saw each person around me as an integral part of Christ’s bride, working together to make her complete.
"When I embraced my role as part of a body of believers instead of an individual fighting for her place, bravery came. I was brave because I saw each person around me as an integral part of Christ’s bride, working together to make her complete."
In Jesus’ final prayer before going to the cross, he prayed for unity. His desire was for his church to be one, just as he and his Father are one.
“ I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:23 NIV)
If I’m honest, I can’t count the number of times I’ve looked at someone else’s talents as a threat rather than a gift to complete Christ’s church and make him known. But because he’s a gracious, loving Father, he’s teaching me. My courage grows each time I stand up, cheer for my sister, and realize we are not contestants fighting for a place at God’s table, but members of the same team.
"My courage grows each time I stand up, cheer for my sister, and realize we are not contestants fighting for a place at God’s table, but members of the same team."
We were never intended to do this thing called church alone. And as we grow and learn to celebrate the uniqueness of each person God brings into our lives, our walk becomes more joyful. More courageous. More complete.
When I gave my presentation at the writers’ conference, I wasn’t perfect. There were plenty of areas for me to grow and improve, and I knew it. But despite my imperfections, my audience embraced me. They gave positive feedback and were thankful for the knowledge they gained.
As I looked back on the experience in the following weeks, I saw it: Christ’s church embodied in the form of men and women spurring each other forward, imperfections and all. What a gift.
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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Abby McDonald is the author of Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. She is also a blogger, speaker, wife, and mom whose work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, (in)Courage, Crosswalk, and more. Her passion is to empower women to grow in faith and hope, even when life is messy. She earned a BA in English from the University of South Carolina and teaches writing workshops both online and at conferences each year. Abby lives with her husband, three children, and mischievous lab pup in the mountains of western Maryland. You can download “The Daughter’s Manifesto” as her free gift to you and connect with her at abbymcdonald.org.