I spoke to an amazing group of women this weekend. we talked about the word BRAZEN and how it literally means “unashamed” and “unapologetic.” We talked about receiving our identity, reclaiming our voices, and recovering our souls, which is all a part of the brazen work of coming out of hiding and honoring who we are created to be.
HIDE or HONOR. We get to choose, but I believe God is always inviting us to honor the gold in each of us. Genesis 3 is the story of the fall, and it’s easy to forget that the story starts two chapters earlier when God formed us from dust. The shaming Soul Bullies want to keep us small and hidden and they want us to live the Genesis 3 story every single day. But I don’t believe the most essential thing about us is that we are flawed.
I believe the most essential thing about us is that we were made in the image of God. On the day of creation, God put his hands in the wet concrete of our souls and said, It is good. Actually, it is very good.
If you’ve been reading my writing for any amount time, you likely know that bougainvillea is special to me, especially the gorgeous fuchsia variety. I love that color with my whole heart, and when I see bougainvillea, I am reminded to be brazen. I am reminded that I am invited to talk back to shame, that it doesn’t get the last word on me.
So, when I walked by this huge, flowering, bougainvillea this weekend–and I felt like she was practically cheering me on–I had to stop and get a picture with her. “You don’t have to be afraid of who you are,” she whispered to me. “You don’t have to silence your own voice or bury your gifts. You don’t have to squeeze yourself into the smallest space possible in this world. You are not a liability.”
I’ve been writing here a bit about a “messy middle” I’m in the midst of in my life right now. You can go back and read the last few blog posts for more. Some of you have raised your hands, so to speak, and said “me too. I’m in the midst of a messy middle, too. And I’m not sure how to navigate my way through.” Yep, I get it. This weekend, God gave me a sentence that I’m holding onto. A counter-spell to shame, and a reminder of who I really am.
He said, “Leeana, YOU are not your circumstances.”
And I want to pass that along to you as well. Your circumstances do not define you. God does. So no matter how messy the messy middle is that you’re in right now, I believe there is a part of you that is deeper and more essential than anything you are going through.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). And it is with unending hope that I repeat Lamentations this Monday morning. Because of God’s great love, we are not consumed. Circumstances cannot consume us. The Soul Bullies cannot consume us. Shame cannot consume us. Fear cannot consume us.
Something deep and original and enduring in us exists apart from all of the ick and insanity of life. And when we forget, when we forget that our story started in Genesis 1 with God calling us forth and calling us good, we can call upon his new-every-morning mercies to help us remember who we really are. Created. Beloved. Brazen.
“Always we begin again,” St. Benedict tells us. Great is God’s faithfulness. Inexhaustible grace. Unending love.
Remember who you are,
If you’d like to read more about my journey of receiving my identity, reclaiming my voice, and recovering my soul, you can pick up Brazen here, available in paperback, kindle, and audio.