Afrave. That has been my favorite mash-up word for awhile. Afraid and brave all rolled into one. Afraid and brave all at the same time. Afraid and brave together; kind of like an arena version of saint and sinner; simul justus et peccator.
As I present and lead retreats with church leaders and congregational members, one of the common responses that come when we talk about what keeps us out of the arena, - of really showing up in our lives in ways that are authentic and agentic for us, of really showing up for the things we believe in and hold to be true, of really hanging in there for difficult conversations about difficult topics - of which there are many . . . is fear.
Fear of not knowing enough.
Fear of getting it wrong.
Fear of offending someone who has power over our lives.
Fear of making a mistake.
Fear of upsetting the status quo or established dance in a relationship/system.
Fear of caring too much and having our heart broken.
Fear is powerful. We know that. We feel it. We all have stories of when fear dictated our actions because it felt like the best option at the time.
Yet, what if we gave ourselves permission (one of Brené’s encouraged practices to fully show up for what we believe in) to get grounded in prayer and to do it anyway?
What if ‘anyway’ became a holy word of invitation? What if we surrounded ourselves with a community of ‘anyway’ people - our marble jar people, our empathy seats people who are with and for us and we are with and for them.
What if we showed up anyway even when the fear is screaming in our heads, “Don’t do it!” What if . . . we were afrave? Not waiting to conquer or tame the fear before we show up in our faith but we say, “This matters to me, this is my sense of God’s call in my life, I’m doing it anyway. I can be afrave. That is good enough right now. I trust God’s good work happens in people who are afrave.”
I wonder if the many times when Jesus tells his disciples to not be afraid or an angel tells a scared mortal to not be afraid, that this isn’t a reproach of their sinfulness but rather a holy invitation to see and be part of God’s good work in the moment. That because God is present, new life came and will come and that transforms everything - including our fears. New life that comes because God is good and has seen fit to dwell among us.
I wonder as Moses stuttered and stutter-stepped his way back to Egypt and then out again, if he was afrave. I wonder if Jonah felt a little afrave washed up on the beach. I wonder if Mary felt afrave in the pre-dawn light making her way to the tomb.
I wonder if afrave walks us onto holy ground.
I wonder. . .