I don’t consider myself a particularly gutsy person. I love a grand adventure, I live with my head in the clouds somedays and cautious isn’t a word I would use to describe myself. But, on the flip side, brave and risk-taker don’t feel like great descriptors either. So, as I reflect on the risks I have taken – moving to Indy, staying at my job, making new friends, traveling to new places and attempting to re-invent myself, I’ve realized, my community makes me brave.
A couple of Sundays ago at church, we commissioned a friend of mine who is moving to India to serve as a missionary. Commission is a fancy word that we use at Harvest North Indy to describe the prayer, encouragement and sending out that happens right before a member of our church steps into full-time missions. This friend traveled to India on the same trip I was on in November. The food in India was difficult for his stomach to process. He had a successful business in Indiana. His strategic mind and ease creating plans could serve the American church well. He has seen God move in mighty ways in Indianapolis by sharing the Gospel and equipping others to do so. But, he feels called to India. So he is going.
My friend, Sami, is a gifted photographer and teacher. She recently became a mom. This summer, she stepped away from her full-time teaching job to dive head first into photography while teaching two days a week at a home school co-op. Sami was an excellent public school teacher – she’s compassionate, intelligent, patient and creative – but once God said, “Trust me,” she had no choice but to say, “Okay, let’s do this!” It’s been hard to transition, but she’s thriving.
Over two years ago, two of my best friends packed their belongings, drove across the country and settled into Las Vegas, Nevada. They left two well-paying jobs to step into ministry in a city that’s defined sin for decades. They’ve served faithfully in the desert, throwing block parties on days when it was more than 110 degrees, with transient populations and living in a dark place all because God said, “Go!” They couldn’t have stayed if they tried.
My friend Suzy is a teacher. She works hard with students whose home lives are difficult. She teaches her first graders about structure and spelling words, at the same time, her smile never leaving her face. She could leave her school district, but she feels called to her students. She’s incredibly brave to keep showing up and keep trying to make a difference.
And some friends don’t just model living a brave life, they invite us into taking a risk. I moved to Indianapolis in 2013. That move wouldn’t have been possible without my friend, Victoria. She was looking to move out of her parents house, and invited me to look at apartments with her. We started talking about it before I had a job yet, but then the job came, and before I knew it, I was moving from Ohio to Indiana, to start a job I wasn’t even quite sure I was going to like.
I could go on and on and on and on about the ways I’ve seen friends step into what God has called them to. Friends who are brave. Friends who are obedient.
A friend who has seen co-workers come and go at a job, but can’t bring herself to leave because she believes in the mission.
A friend who left a job she liked because it was time to go and try something new.
Friends who have left the workplace because they felt called into full-time missions, even when that meant significant changes in finances.
Friends who are caring for the orphan by become a Safe Family, fostering children or adopting.
Friends who work with vulnerable people groups either as a job or within their own homes– those in poverty or children with special needs – and daily fight the good fight to make their lives a little bit easier.
Friends who have decided to become parents.
Friends who have chosen Jesus over everything else, even when it hasn’t made sense. For these friends to keep doing, even once they realized that God was leading them somewhere else, was unimaginable. They know that once God leads, we follow. Anything else is disobedience. Anything else would prevent us from stepping fully into who God has created us to be.
Having brave friends makes me brave. I can follow in their footsteps, asking questions often, seeking advice and learning from their examples. Every risk I’ve taken in my life has been because someone encouraged me to do so, sometimes not even realizing that they were doing it. This is the power of community. This is why the Church and the Body of Christ cannot just be what happens on Sunday mornings. Friendship is not just that we would have friends to bring meals when the times are tough, but that our lives would inspire the lives of those closest to us to follow even harder after Jesus.