By Rachel Fahrenbach
God's Brave Women - Rachel's Story
I dial my husband’s cell and whisper “come on, pick up” with gusto, as if merely speaking the phrase will cross the distance and compel him to answer. He picks up with a “Hey, I only have a second before I have to jump into a meeting.”
“Got it.” I say before launching into my quick explanation that I’ve been invited to contribute a guest post to the Brave Women Series. I sigh as I lay out the problem: “I can’t figure out what to write about. I feel so honored, but I don’t really have a brave story.”
My husband exclaims that that’s not true, but his hurry clouds his memory and pulling a concrete example for me isn’t happening. It’s his turn to sigh. “You’re so bold and brave. It’s part of who you are.”
“I can’t figure out what to write about. I feel so honored, but I don’t really have a brave story.” My husband exclaims that that’s not true... “You’re so bold and brave. It’s part of who you are.”
He apologizes for having to cut the conversation short, but I tell him it’s okay. I hit the end button, hesitate, and then clear all notifications and close all open tabs on my phone. My thoughts for the guest post aren’t clear but at least the interface on my phone is.
My husband’s words “It’s part of who you are” stick with me as I move about my day. I decide to mentally recall certain aspects of my life in hopes of dusting off a story from my life to share. Like pulling index cards out of a box one-by-one, I hold the categories of my life up to the light of introspection and delve into the memories there, judging their worthiness of being captured into the written word.
I start with motherhood because it seems to be the most obvious. There’s the adoption, but that feels too on-the-nose. A few other moments come to mind, but those feel a bit too everyday.
I move onto the various adventures in my life. Missions trips in my teens, moving to the city of Chicago after college, and traveling to other countries. But, those feel like a lifetime ago and no longer relevant.
Next, I focus on my various jobs and roles. From pitching cutting-edge ideas for a scientific journal to building a new client-system for food pantries that puts dignity back into the process… the ways in which I’ve contributed to the organizations I’ve worked and volunteered for are just that: me doing the job.
For a minute, I think about how I was brave in trusting God with my dating life. If anything counts for brave, it was agreeing—just weeks after moving to the city—to allow the brother of my mom’s church friend to pick me up and take me to hang out with his friends. It wasn’t technically a blind-date, but it might as well have been. I’m glad I did because it led to my happily ever after. But, here’s the thing, while for most of my teens and early adulthood I did trust God with my dating life, in the months before I met my husband, God and I were in daily arguments about it. So, that one’s a little complicated.
I think next about some of the more challenging periods of my life. The past six years feel very full of them and the onslaught of stories is a bit overwhelming to think about. I push past the discomfort and force myself to dwell momentarily on a few of the big ones:
- My husband’s back-to-back unemployment periods with a low-paying job sandwiched in between. Bravery during a financial crisis looks different for people, but for me it looked like experiencing God’s provision in real and tangible ways through the generosity of others.
- A miscarriage that led to an emergency surgery. Bravery then looked like leaning into God’s sovereignty while simultaneously grieving the loss of a child and praying I would make it back to my children at home.
- The closing of our church a few years ago and then last year the closing of the non-profit ministry I co-founded. Bravery looked like trusting in God’s direction even when it breaks your heart to do so.
- Close friendships that took new directions. Bravery in that looked like believing God’s promise of an abundant life when loneliness prevailed.
As I toy with the idea of using one of these stories, I just keep thinking the same thing over and over: I never once felt brave in the moment. I still don’t.
In the moment, I just took the next step forward. I just moved through life.
Because that’s what you do in moments of creating, leading, and crisis. You put one foot in front of the other and pray God knows what He’s doing and that He’ll show up in a way that takes care of you deeply and lovingly.
"That’s what you do in moments of creating, leading, and crisis. You put one foot in front of the other and pray God knows what He’s doing and that He’ll show up in a way that takes care of you deeply and lovingly."
Because sometimes, it’s really, really difficult to see the forest for the trees.
Sometimes, being brave is simply admitting that you’re not and asking God to be brave for you.
"Sometimes, being brave is simply admitting that you’re not and asking God to be brave for you."
My husband (and others) may think that I’m a naturally brave and bold person, but I’m not. The reality is most of the time, I keep moving forward because I’m afraid if I stop, I’ll find myself in the muck of fear and stress—paralyzed into inaction. The real bravery, for me, is in the stopping.
"The reality is most of the time, I keep moving forward because I’m afraid if I stop, I’ll find myself in the muck of fear and stress—paralyzed into inaction. The real bravery, for me, is in the stopping."
About two and a half years ago, God pressed upon our hearts a conviction to begin practicing a weekly, 24-hour Sabbath. It’s becoming easier for me to approach our Sabbath with excitement and joy, but when we first started this weekly practice of stopping I would have to fight against the panic that if I stopped striving everything would fall apart. Even now, that panic shows up at times and I have to rest it at the feet of Jesus.
So, no, I’m not really a brave woman. I’m a broken woman moving through the everyday moments, the extraordinary moments, and the exhausting moments with faith that God is more than brave enough in each of those for me.
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 power. 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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Rachel Fahrenbach is the author of Rest & Reflect, a guided journal that helps you implement a weekly rhythm of rest and reflection in your week through the practice of Sabbath. Her desire is to see moms reclaim a deep joy and stabilizing peace in their weeks by actively choosing to rest. To support them in this choice, Rachel offers encouragement and resources for implementing a Sabbath practice at rachelfahrenbach.com. Rachel and her husband live in the Chicagoland area with their three kiddos.