In my family, when New Year’s Eve rolls around, in place of resolutions, some of us select a personal “Word of the Year” (WOTY). In the upcoming year, that WOTY is a word to focus on, claim or be a reminder and encouragement as we move forward. After much thought and prayer, my WOTY for 2020 was “brave”.
Merriam-Webster defines brave as “having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty: having or showing courage” or, “to face or endure with courage”.
As 2020 rolled on, before me was a multi-headed beast of a task. I had to be big-brave. Big-brave moments are when daunting, overwhelming, and difficult things are happening in life, and you must face them or walk through them anyway. I have probably had six times where I had to be big-brave and usually, but not always, big-brave was for an extended period.
My big–brave situation this time was to prepare for retirement over the next couple of years. Retirement is exciting but triggered overwhelming amounts of decisions and actions including selling my family home of 58 years, wrapping up my career, moving to a new state, purchasing a home, and starting a new phase of life in my mid-sixties. Oh yes, and in March of 2020, the world became more complicated and scarier with the impacts of the COVID 19 outbreak. Brave had been the correct choice for my 2020 WOTY.
Here are a couple things that help me if you are preparing for a big-brave season:
- Pray Daily and listen to the Lord. Begin each day with the Lord’s prayer (Luke 11:2-4) and then another three-part prayer that helped me:
Thank you, Lord, for this day and what do you want me to do today?;
Thank you, God, for these three things today (or more and specify those in prayer); and
Ask the Lord to help me know what I could do for someone else today.
- Sing/recite worship songs throughout the day. Praise to God reminds me of God’s faithfulness, presence and scriptures which keep me moving forward when I don’t feel like it.
- Read the Bible and be encouraged by verses and passages of trusting God to be our strength.
- I love others and let others love me. The exchange is helpful to all. My neighbors and friends in my little COVID bubble talked and literally walked miles with me, kept me going, and helped refresh and renew my body and mind AND vice versa.
- I have little reminders around me, biblical and otherwise, to stay brave and focused. I found a small figurine from the 2012 Pixar/Disney animated movie entitled “Brave” of the main character Merida which I keep as a visual reminder to be brave. (She may be my favorite Disney princess.)
The short version of this story is that by (almost) daily focusing on seeking God for the strength to be brave, I retired, moved to live near my grandchildren, and all the scary tasks to get here actually were completed. I am very blessed, humbled and thankful. I will note here, that the WOTY for 2021 was made-up of three words, “He-upholds-me”. I know God went before me and is all around me and when I don’t “feel” God, I remember an old friend who sang, “Go by what you know, not what you feel”.
There are many scriptures that can help remind us to be brave. A few are:
Psalm 23, the whole chapter, but particularly the part about the Lord being my shepherd and that even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me. (This was also my mother’s favorite chapter in the Bible.)
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous “Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
They that wait upon the Lord, shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not depend on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your path. Proverbs 3:5-6
Be anxious about nothing but with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 6-7
The Lord is my strength, the Lord is my song, and he has become my salvation. Psalm 118:14
After I began writing this, a beloved family member became faced with a serious big-brave situation. This loved one is brave, trusts God and believes in Jesus Christ as their Savior. I am reminded to pray, sing worship songs, read my Bible, love others, and keep reminders around me as I make my requests known to God on my loved one’s behalf. My WOTY for 2022 is support. I will daily do my best to be brave, as He-upholds-me and to support as the Lord upholds us all.
Author: Deborah Gorman