This month I will continue to write about and celebrate a decade with World Impact.
“You were the bravest women I have ever seen.” These words were conveyed to me when Julie called. She had been visiting Chester, and one of our old neighbors asked if we were all moving back in. She said no, and then he said we were brave.
We never thought we were brave – some days we were scared. We were scared the time we huddled on the floor praying as we heard the racket that accompanies bullets flying through the back yard. We were scared the night when the police broke up an unsanctioned block party and someone fled through our open door, rushing to the back of the house. We were scared the day the women with the baseball bats came after our neighbor and we called the police. We were not brave, we were scared and trying to be obedient.
These events marked by fear were catalysts of joy and humor. As we prayed on the floor, Alex from across the street came to check on us, because he cared and wanted to make sure we were ok. The woman rushing to the back of our house was our neighbor, Shandra – she had to use the bathroom so bad she could not hold it, and then she hung out at our place watching chick flicks the rest of the night. Calling the police led to Miss Dot confirming our friendship: “Miss Candy, shit like that don’t happen in our neighborhood. Damn right to call the police – I did too. We take care of each other on this block.” We were not brave, we were laughing and trying to be obedient.
These words of bravery are not empty, but they are unmerited. We were not trying to be brave. We lived in a neighborhood with others, we dug up dirt and planted seeds, we roasted marshmallows and saw Jesus in our neighbor. We were not trying to be brave, we were obedient like David taking on Goliath, like Ruth at the feet of Boaz, like all the missionaries who had gone before us. We did not think we were brave – we were scared, confused, joyful, hurting, obedient humans.
“You were the bravest women I have ever seen.” I wish these words were owed us, I wish I felt like these words could sum up my life. I am not sure we know when we are being brave. So, we just did life together, day in and day out, with anyone willing to join us. Our home was often full, but when it was empty there was a quietness that we filled with music, pouring coffee, making pancakes, and inviting people over to join in obedience. We did not know we were brave, we were just creating a life and trying to be obedient.
Maybe obedience is bravery. Maybe trusting in the Lord to provide is braver than I think it is. Maybe I need to embrace bravery.