I sat on a long wooden bench at an even longer wooden table. My now worn brown boots were propped on the splintered wood. In my hand was a glass of pink champagne extending from the arm, now covered with words forever branded into my skin, my own words about choosing light. On the other arm was the tiny silver bangle and compass from Laci, “to find your way home.” I think that I have. These people. These places. They are my home. Home isn’t a singular place for me. It is all the pieces of my heart. It is every lamp in the dark and He has given me many.
I thought back to the previous night standing in front of the fire pit, arm in arm with Sarah and Ronne. The wood smoke rose up along my back and tangled in my hair. Tears were pushing their way out of the corners of my eyes as I peered through the twinkle lights at the man standing before us. On all sides we were surrounded by long beautifully laid out wooden tables and benches filled with people we had grown to know and love over the past year and a half. Earlier in the evening, Sarah had raised her glass in a toast to the man who stood before us, Jon Acuff. “To Peter Pan,” she said, “who isn’t afraid to lead us on the grandest adventures into Neverland.” She looked over at his beautiful wife and continued, “And to Jenny, his Wendy, who loves all of us Lost Boys so well.” It was a singular moment that gave definition to a year well lived.
Jon began to talk about bravery. And there he was without his brave face on. Instead he wore something else. Vulnerability.I know this face because I wear it now too. My understanding of what it means to be loved has completely changed. In the process of learning the definition of being truly loved for who you are and not because you have something to offer, my walls have been torn down. All of them. Learning that not all love is transactional has demolished those steel reinforced concrete barriers between me and the outside world and now I stand true face to face with it. And I think, brave is not a mask we wear; it is the result of battles fought and lost and won. Brave is what we become when the veneer flakes off and the gold shines through. Brave is the real you.
I stood listening to him and I think of all I have learned, am learning about life and dreaming and all the love that accompanies it. They all seem to boil down to these three simple things: Light in the dark, hope in the night, Love redeems story. If you let it in, it will. Every. Single. Time.