My leader friend Nicole Unice is a pastor, author, podcast host, wife and mom. I have recommended her most recent book, Brave Enough: Getting Over Our Fears, Flaws, and Failures to Live Bold and Free, so many times I asked if she might be willing to share a bit more with you on what it looks like to be a brave enough woman and leader.
I signed her book but then she lingered for a moment. The sun was settling down for the night, but her eyes were bright as she put her hand back down on the table in front of us. “Does it work?” she said. I hesitated, not sure what she meant. She repeated her question. “I mean, did it work for you? Are you brave?”
I was signing her Brave Enough book so I should have had a great answer, but I actually did a double take when I thought about her question. Her question was incredible important because this woman was really asking: “is this true?” She wanted to know if she could actually, really, truly “get over her fears, flaws and failures to live bold and free” as the subtitle so audaciously claims.
If we really lived like this kind of courage was possible and accessible to us, our lives would be different. If we really believed God not only loved us, but also was deeply interested in the people He was making us to be, we would be changed.
When the truth of God’s love combines with the courage to be our real selves, it can explode into a glorious freedom—the kind that changes a person permanently. But God’s chemistry set is a little different than ours—in all kinds of beautiful ways. For weakness he gives strength. For failures he gives freedom. For brokenness he brings healing. He loves unexpected combinations that bring beautiful results.
And so I looked into those bright eyes framed by a darkening sky and I answered, “yes, it works. But it won’t be the way you think it will be.” Here’s some of the characteristics of a brave-enough woman:
- Brave Enough Women love grace. They love grace because they know they desperately need it. They have seen their ugly side and they want to deal with it, but they also know they don’t have the ability to do so. Brave enough women don’t just like the idea of Jesus, they actually realize how deeply they need someone to fix what’s broken inside of them.
- Brave Enough Women give grace. They make a daily choice to lean toward the truth of themselves as declared by God. Fully flawed but deeply loved, extremely limited but completely free. Armed with that truth, brave enough women are letting God change their hearts about the people around them—even the ones they are really angry with, disappointed in, frustrated by, and sick of. Especially those ones.
- Brave Enough Women get in the race. They aren’t interested in being spectators in life. While they sometimes want to pull the covers up over their heads and hide until Jesus returns, they pray for God to give them strength and put both feet on the floor the next morning. Brave Enough women know that getting in the race is hard work, but ultimately rewarding.
- Brave Enough Women take a break. They recognize that limits are given by God, and they recognize their own pride that’s often at work when they live beyond them. Brave Enough women realize that resting when the house is still messy, playing hide and seek with their kids instead of finishing that last email, and finding joy and wonder in every day despite the difficulties of this life is a tangible sign of trust in their Heavenly Father.
Courage isn’t about living a pain-free life. It’s about the grit to live the hard stuff with joy. Courage doesn’t mean we aren’t scared of anything—but it doesn’t mean we aren’t paralyzed by it. So to answer my friend’s question: yes, I believe it works. Yes, I believe Jesus gives us courage that changes us from the inside out. And yes, I believe with all my heart that it’s possible for me, and for you, and for every woman out there who says “I want to be brave enough.”
Nicole Unice is the author of Brave Enough: Getting Over Our Fears, Flaws, and Failures to Live Bold and Free. The book also has a companion 8-week DVD study. Follow Nicole on Twitter (@nicoleunice) and find out more about Nicole’s ministry and speaking schedule at nicoleunice.com