Friday, June 17, 2016

Brazen- not my natural state,but something I am growing into

I would classify my existence and presence in the world as a pretty "safe" one- as in, I have spent most of my life content with flying under the radar and not bristling with others-even if that means suppressing something I rightly feel strongly about. For the majority of my life that worked just fine and my life flowed smoothly. And then adulthood came in full force (surprisingly, I feel like this shift didn't happen until I'd been married a few years and had 2 kids) and I realized I was never going to make everyone happy at all times unless I literally had no solid identity and beliefs of my own. So I had the choice to either become a chameleon and never upset others, but never really live my own life or I could live in my true skin and take the risk of offending people with that every once in awhile. I do not like conflict, have never been one to search out "drama" and hate letting people down, but I also have learned I do not thrive well at all in other peoples "boxes". For a long, long time I thought there was really something wrong with me because I didn't process things like other people did and what "worked" for them didn't seem to do much at all for me and I felt certain I was just a "responsible adult" failure because of that. Thankfully with passing years, a broadening social circle and some perfectly worded books, I have come to realize that God is infinitely creative and He could never be so predictable as to make us all operate the same. One encouraging book I have recently read is Brazen: The courage to find the you that's been hiding by Leana Tankersley.

Leana speaks with a voice both kind and urgently inspiring to stop trying to "just fit in" and not trip people up with our weird ideas and needs. She clearly speaks of the need to find our "Created Center." As she puts it, "I believe this untouchable place inside you is the part where God himself put His hands in the wet concrete of your existence and said, 'You are formed in My image and it is good.' " She reminds us that it is not selfish to spend the time to know who it is God created you to be and to truly relish and enjoy the life He has blessed you with. No, we can not and should not selfishly do whatever whenever it makes us happy; but if we never stop long enough to find joy around us, we'll be hard pressed to find joy inside us to share with others. 

The book is broken up into 3 parts- Receive (Your Identity), Reclaim (Your Voice), Recover (Your Soul). I appreciated the organized journey the book takes thru the process of finding the courage to be the truest you. In the Receive section, Leana encourages readers to take 20 minutes of "soul time" each day, where you quietly sit and just let whatever thoughts and feelings the busyness of life has been suppressing rise to the surface and then subsequently ask God to help you sort thru and deal with those things.  Leana says, " So the challenge for all of us will be to create enough space to practice what we know, amd then simply believing God at His word: that as we come to Him, we trade our try for His rest. We trade our tangle for His peace." She continues on to remind us to Abide in Christ and keep "casting out our nets", even when we don't see much of a harvest from it. 

The Reclaim section challenges us to get of our fear of not being good enough and just share the gifts God has created in us with the world. To learn to be Brazen- we find the balance of fully embracing the wounds and fully embracing the wonder of life. We have to take the chance on making our voice heard and realizing sometimes that will bring tension to a situation or relationship and while that shouldn't be our goal, it can't or shouldn't always be avoided either. This paragraph really resonated with me- "I understand in theory that I will have to cross people in this world..but for so long I've never called people out on these things because I was more concerned with being though well of then protecting my own wellness. Then all of a sudden I realized I was tired not because life was full but because life was full of things that were draining the life right out of me." I hate letting people down but I have found that (surprisingly enough) I am not superwoman and I cannot fill all the needs that surround me, no matter how much I want to. It is so much better for my own wellness and the good of my family when I try to humbly discern what my "limitations and boundaries" are. 

The portion on Recover encourages readers to find ways to bring beauty into your life that speaks to and inspires you to savor life. To give ourselves grace and release some of the high expectations we have of ourselves. That we are constantly Becoming. Leana says, " We are both onward and waiting. We are both being and coming. We are both pursuing and receiving. We are holding the tension of a state of being and an action at the same time. In this tension is where we learn to dance." I take great encouragement in the midst of this tension from Philippians 1:6 -"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." I appreciate Leana's gentle appeal to rest and regather when you are in a season of pain, change or grief- that all your responsibilities and even all the "good stuff" will still be there waiting- but for the time being stop, feel and process your "heaviness" and let God carry you through.  

 Brazen is an inspiring read that I will be recommending to my friends. My one caveat, I so appreciated the truth and encouragement Leana had to share but some of the terminology and wording she choice felt a little new age-y to me. I would say that the content is sound, but I'll admit that the language used to share it at times made me extra discerning. All in all, I feel this is a book any woman would benefit from!

I received this book from Revell Publishers in exchange for my honest review. 

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