It all started with a silly little pair of earrings. Well, let’s be honest. The opposite of little. Perhaps I should explain.
There are different types of jewelry-wearers in the world. Some like it big and bold and don rings on all 18 fingers. Some hold to the style mantra that less is more. Some don’t even bother. I’m more of a Forgetful Jewelry-er myself. Approximately 82 percent of the time, I don’t remember to wear any rings. I don’t own huge necklaces. I keep the same fake diamond studs in my ears for days. I know, I know. They’re supposed to be called “faux.” But these are too cheap for such a fancy French word. They’re just fake.
However, during the span of a few months, I had been admiring some lovely earrings I’d seen on various people’s Instagram posts. They were huge and feathery and pretty and statement-y. And they absolutely were not for me. But a little, tiny part of me wished that they were.
A couple of days ago, I was visiting my sister in Ohio, and we got the chance to spend the weekend hearing some incredible female voices, both in song and in spoken word. And it just so happened that many of these rockstar females wore the Big Earrings. They were a thing. They were gorgeous. They were even for sale after the event. I wanted them. I wanted to be the kind of girl who could pull them off. But I wasn’t.
I went home the first night of the event in raw emotion after all that the music had stirred up in me. I stayed up way past my exhausted-adult-bedtime pondering that I had lived most of my 43 years as an incredibly fearful person. I mean, I could just ask any of my people who have had to drive carrying me as a Very Helpful Warning-Giving Passenger. Or my kids who’ve been required to sit through (and pretend to listen to) my multiple warnings about sharks and bike accidents and ticks and splinters and everything they never imagined could be remotely harmful. It’s ridiculous. It’s exhausting. I don’t want to be that person anymore.
I am afraid, but I don’t want to be.
I’m afraid that my kids won’t “turn out right.” Maybe they won’t. It’s actually neither up to me nor defined by me or by anyone else, for that matter.
I’m afraid my heart will be shattered. It has been. It will again. But I will not live a life without passion in it. It’s not the way any of our hearts were crafted to live.
I’m afraid I will not have enough money. I’ve been there. I might be again. But I will not put my security in money’s transient hands.
I’m afraid of losing someone I love. I have. And I will. But my heart will learn to love in a new, brokenly beautiful way.
I’m afraid of my body giving out on me. It has lately. But it has also given me the breathtaking gifts of my children and of so many years of taken-for-granted health. And so I will fight to keep it strong: Not a fight to be the skinniest or the sexiest, but a battle to be as strong and as healthy as I can be.
I’m afraid. We all are. But we are doing it anyway. We are doing it afraid and doing it together.
The day after my wonderings, my sister bought me those huge earrings. I wore them today to my umpteenth doctor’s appointment, and I knew. I knew they were just a thing. They didn’t possess magical powers, but I took a silly selfie anyway and sent it to my sweet sis and thanked her for what I’m now calling my “Brave Earrings.” Because, some days, all I can do is start with putting on something that makes me feel bold and brave and brash and beautiful. I can put it on my physical self and my heart and my spirit will follow. I WILL be brave. I WILL kick fear in the face until its teeth fall out and it WILL NOT grip me in its rotten vise any longer. I WILL beg God to give me the bravery I know I’ve never possessed on my own.
Maybe it’s time to get yourself some Brave Earrings. Put them on. Own them. Wear them and the courage will come. Not because of a piece of metal or leather or plastic or stone. But because they remind you that, through the love greater than all of us, we can do things we once never believed we could. We can hurt and then we can heal. We can forgive and then forge a new forward. We can love and lose and then learn to laugh in the middle of it. We can break and then build and rebuild.
“So long status quo, I think I just let go…The way it always was is no longer good enough. You make me want to be brave.” Nichole Nordeman