Bravery. Courage. Holy Confidence. Valor. Warrior.
These are the words that the Lord has weaved in and out of our life in 2015.
The year started with so much promise. We were so excited to see what the Lord had in store for us this year. We went on our Vision Retreat, and wrote out a plan and expected the Lord to help us meet every goal and fulfill every plan that we had made for the year.
But then the attacks started.
We set a financial goal to pay off a big portion of our house this year, but instead were met with over $10,000 of unexpected expenses that drained our savings and caused us to be in debt for the first time in our marriage. (Although we are almost fully paid off! Woo!!)
We set a physical goal to workout 4-5 days a week, and after a few months of consistently exercising, I ended up having surgery, and it’s been much harder than I expected to get a consistent routine down again.
I set a personal goal to start writing a little e-book on marriage, but after a couple of months into the year, felt like Trice and I knew NOTHING about marriage because we fought so much this year!
Attack after attack after attack.
If it was the year 2014, I probably would have reflected on the things I just wrote and said that we FAILED a lot this year. But because of the work the Lord has done in our lives this year, I see how He has been so faithful in every single one of the areas that we were desiring to improve. And I see how the year 2015 has been a year of promise for us.
You see, I have a little confession. I struggle with fear of failure and rejection. And you’ve heard me talk about my struggle with perfectionism.
I will never forget that feeling when I tried out for the Christmas play in 4th grade and instead of making the part, was laughed at by the other students.
I will never forget that feeling when I tried out for the dance team and cheerleading squad with my sister and I didn’t make it, but she did.
I will never forget that feeling when I applied to work with Teach For America in my early 20’s and I wasn’t accepted.
I even stopped competing in piano competitions after placing “Superior” several years in a row, because I just could not fathom the thought that one day I might mess up.
At some point, I became scared to try anything new because the fear of failure outweighed the excitement of potential success.
So for the year 2016, it would be very tempting to not even sit down and set another goal. So many things on our life plan played out differently than we expected this year. So many things that felt like “failures.” But thanks to the Lord, He has used this year to finally break me from needing to be perfect and needing to be free from failure.
Too often we gauge the rest of our lives based on our current situations, our current successes or our current failures. But a brave person sees the bigger picture. A brave person sees past the potential danger or failure and sees ahead to a dream fulfilled. Brave warriors go to battle every single day knowing that they might lose, fail or be killed, but are willing to fight for the bigger cause and purpose. This does not mean that they aren’t scared.
Bravery is not the absence of fear. It’s facing whatever comes your way regardless of the fear you are feeling.
And that is the heart behind the Boutique that we started in October.
When the Lord first talked to me about starting the Boutique, my first thought was “Yes!!!!” And that quickly turned into a “No!!!!”
I mean, if it was anyone else, they could start a successful boutique. But me? Who am I to do this? I have no experience with marketing, I’ve lost my base of Sak Saum customers back in Baton Rouge. I have no money and no time to really do this. And… WHAT IF I FAIL?
The thought of the whole thing failing paralyzed me for several weeks. The Boutique was ready to launch in late September, but I kept making excuses because I was terrified and did not end up launching until late October.
Social media didn’t help at all, because let’s just say I’m not super savvy with it all ;) It took me a lot of time to even generate any interest in the webstore side of things, and I wanted to just quit in the beginning to save face before I got more involved.
But I just couldn’t quit. The Lord kept bringing me back to all the men and women of Sak Saum that were once in bondage but are now FREE. I thought of Mary, how she is blind and was enslaved for 20 years, and how there are days when I’m sure she just wants to quit, but she is BRAVE. She wants to be all that God has called her to be. And she expresses herself in painting, and her wallets are some of the most popular items we sell in our boutique.
I thought of the young men in the Saang District of Cambodia who were caught up in gangs and drug abuse, but are now finding empowerment and purpose through metal working and coconut carving. They aren’t quitting. They are being brave amidst so many difficulties and things coming against them.
I thought about Ginny Hanson, founder of Sak Saum. I thought about the many difficulties that come along with starting a ministry. I thought about when their national director was trafficked herself. I thought about the many trials they have faced over the years. And what if she had quit? 50+ people in the Saang district of Cambodia would not be employed. 12-15 women a year since 2007 would still be living in chains instead of being set free. We are so thankful that they have chosen bravery again and again and again.
I went up for prayer at the altar a few weeks ago, just expressing how terrified I was that this whole thing was going to fail. And the pastor told me something that changed my perspective. He said, “Sarah, you are free to fail. You are responsible for obedience, but God is responsible for the outcome. The true success is that you did what God wanted you to do!”
Okay let me say that again.
You are free to fail.
You are responsible for obedience.
God is responsible for the outcome.
True success is being obedient to what the Lord calls you to do.
God knows I needed to hear that that day! For far too long, I have shied away from doing what I feel like the Lord wants me to do. I have sat in the chains of fear, missing out on what the Lord has called me to do. And do you know what I learned? It’s a whole lot easier and comfortable to just stay in bondage than it is to break free. It’s easier to mope and feel sorry for myself and just not try anything new than to take the risk and start going after a dream.
It takes bravery to step away from bondage and live freely. It takes bravery to step into the unknown. It takes bravery to step into the life that God dreamed for you.
Whether you are living in the physical chains of human trafficking, the generational chains of poverty, or like for me, the spiritual and mental chains of fear, there is FREEDOM. And there is HOPE. God did not intend for us to live as slaves. He intended us to live empowered and free!
We have to change our perspective. God never called me to launch a best selling, internationally acclaimed, successful boutique. He just called me to be obedient and start selling some products. He isn’t as concerned about our monthly sales totals as He is about my heart. He wants me to rise above the fear that has held me back for far too long. He just wants me to be obedient and give it my best, and let Him take care of the rest.
It is pride that tells us that we are directly responsible for the outcome. Obviously, if we sit on our butts, we aren’t going to accomplish much. But if we give it our all, if we take small steps of obedience, it we steward the gifts God has given us, then that’s really all we can do. The rest is up to Him!
I am choosing to live bravely from here on out. I am choosing to face my fears and fight for justice. I am choosing to believe in myself and swallow the truth that God is for me, not against me.
And that is what The Bravery Boutique is all about. It is not just a boutique that benefits vulnerable and exploited men and women around the world; it’s also a call to step out and face your fears and be all that God designed you to be! It’s a reminder to me daily to just be obedient and let God do the rest.
We want to come alongside and celebrate those men and women who have bravely stepped out of captivity and into freedom. We want to applaud them for their bravery, and invest into their creativity. We want to sow into others who are on their way to finding freedom. We want to see people living courageously and being the best version of themselves. And we want to live courageously and be the best version of ourselves as well.
We want to continue seeing the work that Sak Saum is doing. We want to see young women rescued from trafficking. We want to see those women stepping out of captivity and pursuing the dreams that they have in their hearts.
We want to continue seeing the work that Flora Stationery is doing. We want to see young women in Kosovo gain a college education. We want to see them break the cycle of poverty, and live empowered!
We want to continue seeing the work that so many local organizations are doing to empower those in unfortunate situations. We dream of being able to give portions of our sales totals to Boys & Girls Club, Embrace Grace and The Gatehouse. We want to help break the cycles of poverty and the chains of bondage and instead be a voice and a medium that inspires, empowers, and uplifts.
And God is already doing neat things y'all!! In just two months time, we have been able to send almost $1400 to Sak Saum and almost $250 to Flora Stationery. I don't know what the next quarter looks like. Maybe it will be majorly fruitful, or maybe it will be slow. Maybe God wanted this to just be a short term thing to help these ministries for this season, or maybe God wants to blow this thing up into something huge. I don't know. And I don't have to know. I just have to be faithful with the here and now and trust that He will lead every step of the way!
And guess what? You sweet reader were called to be brave as well. You were made to do great things. Whether it’s homeschooling your toddler, starting a non profit organization, loving a husband that’s tough to love, writing music or planning a birthday party, YOU are responsible for obedience. Let God take care of the outcome.
If you have a dream in your heart, if you feel the Holy Spirit nudging you in a certain direction, if you are terrified of the possibility of failure, just go for it. Take a baby step. Walk in obedience. And watch God do amazing things in your life!
To shop at The Bravery Boutique and see what kinds of products we carry, hop on over HERE. We have watercolored journals, essential oils cases, aprons, handbags and more. Shop ethically. Live COURAGEOUSLY. And have a very Merry Christmas!