Brave doesn’t always wear a cape, sometimes just a smile. Brave doesn’t always chase the bad guys away, sometimes it just means staying around the good ones. Brave doesn’t always mean getting it right, sometimes it just means trying again tomorrow.
Brave doesn’t always mean winning, sometimes it just means staying.
One of my best friends in the whole world Facetime’d me last week. I say the whole wide world because, these days, my favourite friends live everywhere -- from Sydney to South Africa, Los Angeles to London, Virginia Beach to… where else starts with a V? Move on Elyse…
This forever friend lives in South Africa. We grew up together in Sydney and she moved away the same time I moved to Los Angeles. She is the ultimate Christian, seriously way better at it than me. She’s the girl you call at 2am when he didn’t text you back and you feel like Gigi. She’s the one who will sit on the kitchen floor with you to drink coffee and watch back-to-back Friends episodes on the laptop, even though there’s a perfectly good TV and couch right there.
She’s the friend that won’t let you forget your dream, even when life feels like a nightmare. Every girl needs one of those friends.
Ever since she moved overseas, she has had every reason to quit. While I was trying to figure out how to drive on the other side of the road, she was trying to figure out how to transport 20 kids to youth, with no car and no money. While I was making friends, she was being isolated. While I was annoyed that I couldn’t go to Vegas for the weekend, she was annoyed that she couldn’t get more teenagers to camp. (I'm a baby, I know).
She was my weekly reality check.
And yet, through the tears and the disappointments, she’s stayed. Through the heartbreak and loneliness, she’s stayed. Through the false starts and delayed promises, she’s stayed.
It’s been about a month since our last I-miss-you-I-love-you-let’s-change-the-world conversation, but last week, my phone rang. I was getting ready for an interview about my book, stressing over whether red lipstick was acceptable to wear for the Assemblies of God in America, or clear would be more appropriate. I went with the red, because YOLO.
I answered the call only to find my friend sitting in her car, crying more tears than an Undercover Boss episode.
“I have never…. been happier… for you to answer my call… than right now,” was all she could manage.
What’s happened now? Did she have another person tell her to give up? I’ll punch them in the baby maker. Did the boy that has changed her life throw away her heart? I’ll kill him. Was someone eaten by a lion? Not really sure to do with that one.
“Elle, I stayed. I stayed and God is so faithful…. The bus… With the kids… and I started crying… He’s so faithful. I stayed.”
I didn’t understand the bus or the kids at first, but there was no mention of a lion, so that was a relief. Once she breathed, she began to explain a little more. She had set a personal goal at the start of the year to see 163 students come to Jesus, a bus full. And because she stayed, she was seeing those salvations.
“It’s actually going to happen this week. It’s actually going to happen. God is so faithful. I’m not sure I have enough money for gas, but God’s got it. I just had to tell you.”
Like, what?! I’m the worst Christian ever! After feeling completely convicted and deeply disturbed that I had just been trying to figure out when I could fit an afternoon nap into my day, I began to feel every bit of pride for my friend. The things we talked about together on the beach that night in January, with the stars as our witnesses, were actually happening. After cyber-hugging and squealing for a few minutes, we said goodbye.
I hung up the phone smiling. And then, I began to feel an intense need to remind you of something. Yes, you.
Perhaps the bravest thing you can do today is stare fear in the face and let it know that this time you’re here to stay. Not run. Not give up. Not quit. Stay.
Stay little one. Just stay.