Oh dear reader, thank you. Thank you for being here, for meeting up in this little space and then being willing to come back for a visit. I do not tell you this enough, but it humbles me to no end that these simple words actually have an audience, and that by the grace of our good, good Father, they connect with some of you. Do you know I keep every email, every message, and every word of encouragement you all have sent? Yep, every single one. From South Africa and New Jersey and Texas, from the teacher at my daughter’s preschool, from the fellow special needs mamas, and the friends I do life with on a regular basis— when you tell me that something I offered on paper was even the slightest bit encouraging to you, I praise Jesus and then ask him to help me to show up again and write some more.
Because can I tell you the truth? This has been hard, at times harder than I have wanted to work through, and I cannot do it without him.
When I started just enough brave I was certain God was calling me to pioneer something big and bold in my city. I had grand visions of people all over my tiny pocket of the country being inspired to live bravely and fight for justice in their places. I was slowly but surely stepping in to an idea I knew—and still believe—was from God as an advocate for women in the sex industry. I wanted to tell a different story about them, and I wanted to help them see a way out. Well, God raised up a few like-minded women and we stumbled our way through something we had no idea how to actually do. But let me tell you something: all God needs is obedience, He’ll do the rest. And he has. He has sustained and grown something that is allowing women in a very dark place to see Jesus.
And he has done it not because of me, but in spite of me.
But two and half years ago, that was my brave. And I believed if I could find just enough of it, God would honor that. That ministry has grown in ways I would never have pictured. No website, no social media, only—much like this—vague descriptions of our end goal coupled with massive amounts of prayer and faith. We have a prayer team, consistent donors, and a support group far bigger than I had even thought to ask God to grow it. And yet with every month of growth or moment of ‘only-God’ praises, I have had less and less of a role. It has grown bigger, and I have gotten much, much smaller. I have had to.
It was just over a year ago that we started seeing signs of ‘something wrong’ in our little guy. So many of you have followed that journey since I started sharing it, but all roads seemed to point to autism from the beginning, and that is where we find ourselves today.
I wish you knew how many times I have asked God, “Why?”
“Lord, we were willing, we were ready to go anywhere! But what Cannon needs is here. Why are you keeping us here, why did you give us this? We were willing to go!”
Yet God is so patient with our myopathy, isn’t he? We can only see right here, right now. All of human history has been directed by his hands and we are so quick to grumble over the things we do not like in this moment. But over my months of protesting, he gently kept whispering this to me: ‘If I have asked you to do it, no matter what it is, you’re going to need to be brave.’
If he has asked me to be a special needs mama, I need to be brave.
If Cannon is angry and upset for reasons I cannot understand, I need to hold him tight so he doesn’t hurt himself, and I need to be brave.
If treatments and therapies and endless doctor appointments sweep away savings accounts and extra income, I need to trust that it is truly God’s money anyway, and I need to be brave.
If we cannot participate, or have to cancel plans, or if my little one is misunderstood by onlookers and people who do not know him, if we have to sit outside a birthday party while others walk in and silently wonder why we can't just yet, I need to offer a quick plea for patience and grace, and I need to be brave.
If we do not understand why, if there is no clear cause and no clear cure, if for all of our effort we cannot find a formula that guarantees a way through this, I need to trust the Author of every great story, and I need to be brave.
‘This is your brave, Katie. You only have to find just enough of it.’
If I could summarize our short time on this journey so far I would say this: God has grown bigger, and I have gotten much, much smaller. He’s always been big, I just haven’t always seen it.
And all along the way, I’ve done the only thing I know how to do: be honest about it. I have been honest with my grieving and honest with my hope. I have written from exactly where I am because there would be no possible way for me to pretend to write from some other place. I have thought a hundred times in this past year that I should quit, that these hours spent at the computer could be better spent researching methods and therapies and all manner of options for treating something that is so hard to wrap our hands around.
And almost every time, in the moments I am most ready to stop, there’s an email, or a text, or someone somewhere—maybe I know her but most often I don’t—telling me not to. Bob Goff said once that, “God doesn’t pass us messages as often as he passes us each other.” That, sweet readers, could not be more true for me.
A few months ago, as I was processing all of this with my friend Jen, she said something to me that I have been holding on to all this time. “Katie, I don’t think it is an accident that while your little guy has so much trouble finding his words, God has given you so many of them.”
God certainly does not struggle to see the whole picture, does He?
Today, I am just feeling… I don’t know, some combination of grateful and pensive, as I sit here thinking about how far God has taken me, and what he has done as I have so imperfectly shared the story. This space has kept growing. But I keep getting smaller. While I used to want to be a Writer, capital 'W', and a Leader, capital 'L', now I just want to be someone with unshakable faith, even if it is merely the size of a mustard seed.
If I did not see it two and half years ago, or even a year ago, when two very different journeys began for me, I see it so clearly now: He increases, we decrease. And as that happens, as the distance between God and us gets bigger and bigger, his glory fills in the space. It is so, so beautiful; I just had to get much lower to see it this well.
So dear reader, that is the just enough brave story. My life looks so little like I thought it would when we began. But it looks exactly how God wants it to, and knowing that is all that I need to feel so incredibly grateful to be chosen for this work. I still think and pray all the time about how and when and why to share in words—when you are convicted to your core that God sees every single motive that governs your heart it quickly changes how you do everything. But for today, I think I will keep at it. These hours could be spent in a dozen different ways, but so far they have all added up to teach me about God, and they leave me more in awe of him with each passing one. Time well spent, I think.
I know now that brave is not always leading and not always grand and not even always something anyone but God will see. Being brave is doing exactly what God has asked you to do, and humbly pointing every bit of that work back to the One who sustains it. If you ask me, I think humility is the new brave.
So, what do you say we all keep getting smaller?
And a hundred times, thank you for letting me tell you everything. You are good friends to listen so well.