A year ago, I said yes. It wasn’t my first, and it certainly won’t be my last.
This yes led me to move to Mae Sot, Thailand. It led me to this team and to this work. It led me to a life that is beautiful and challenging and a million other adjectives.
I’ve been thinking back to those decisions I made a year ago—to get on the airplane, to quit my job, to fundraise my salary, to move away from everything that was familiar and safe. I’ve been thinking about them a lot, because I think people have it wrong. I’ve heard others tell me over and over again how brave I am. They like to tell me that I’m courageous and bold, and that’s awesome. But in so many ways, I feel like I can’t quite carry the name “Courageous,” at least not by myself.
This name feels really incomplete. If I’m courageous, it’s because I know what it’s like to walk in fear, and I don’t want to do that again. If I am daring, it’s because I know what it’s like to live in apathy, and I don’t want that life. If I’m bold, it’s because I know who I become when I’m timid, and I don’t want to be that person.
And if I’m courageous, like truly, honestly, totally courageous, it’s because of the countless people and experiences and truths that have encouraged me to say, “Yes.”
I have this 5×7 picture in a worn red frame that has followed me to every home I’ve lived in since that old dorm room at Taylor. The scene is nearly five years old, taken on a random weekend when I happened to be home from college. It’s a simple, beautiful moment of me teaching my oldest niece how to walk. That day, her tiny hands gripped my index fingers, and we took little step after little step.
I love this picture; it just might be one of my most treasured possessions in the world. It made it into my suitcases to Thailand, after all, and space is a highly valuable thing when you’re trying to condense your life into 100 pounds. But I needed this picture, this actual printed out version, not because I couldn’t just reprint it once I got to Mae Sot or because I don’t have any updated photos of Finley and I. I needed this actual, physical copy because of the little note written on the back of it.
My brother, Tim, took this picture on one of the last weekends we were home before he moved to L.A. for an internship, before we graduated from college, and before we began our crazy adult lives. He was and still is one of my best friends and my biggest fans, and one of the best gifts he has ever given me is this picture with a simple note on the back:
This girl believes in you! I do too. She loves you. Me too. She thinks you’re the greatest buddy in the world. She’s right. You’re my person too.
Today, I pulled this picture from a shelf in my room and moved it to my desk, because I’m sick with a nasty sinus infection and feeling emotionally tired and missing my family a little bit more these days. I took it out of the frame and reread the note to remind myself to be courageous, because even after we say our big and scary, “yes,” we still need reminders of why we decided to walk this way in the first place.
These days, I need reminders like this and like Joshua 1:9.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Like Isaiah 44:8.
Do not tremble; do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago?
Like Isaiah 43:18-19
But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
Like Isaiah 26:3-4
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.
There are people next to you who need to borrow some courage. They need truth spoken over their lives. They need confidence injected into their souls. They need a note, a message, a kind word. They need truth, a simple reminder, encouragement. As the family of Christ, we have this insane opportunity to help each other say, “Yes.” Isn’t this beautiful? Isn’t it incredible that we get to walk alongside, encourage, and challenge each other? What a holy, sacred gift—lending courage, borrowing confidence, encouraging trust, and shouting our, “Yes,” together.
A year ago, I said another, “Yes,” to the Lord. It wasn’t my first, and it certainly won’t be my last. It was a yes said with a tiny bit more courage than fear, a tiny bit more boldness than timidity, a tiny bit more audacity than apathy. This courage, this boldness, this audacity is borrowed from the Father, from His promises, from the people He’s put around me.
This week, as I reflect on the year it has been, on where the Lord has taken me, I’m less impressed with my own journey. Instead, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for those who have chosen to walk this road with me, lending courage and confidence and kindness, helping me say my “yes” over and over and over again.