What Brave Looks Like

Hi, I’m Michele & I used to think I knew what brave looked like.

Brave looked like moving across the planet and living in one of the most dangerous places on earth at the time.  Facing down violence and war, disease and despair.  A city girl living without running water or electricity out in the bush-bush.

Bravery was measured by the wild things I said yes to in the name of following Jesus.

But I’m beginning to think that filling these pages might be far braver than anything I faced off-map a world away.

Deconstruction. Not as an intellectual exercise, but as an untangling and decoding of my own story.  And how the journey I’ve been on I pray holds space for you to embrace your own detangling.

Greater love has no person than this: the laying down of one’s life for his or her friends.

And beloved, there are many ways to lay down one’s life.

We lay down our lives when we stand up against the broken, unjust, and abusive systems & rhetoric that hurt others in the name of correct religious dogma and pseudo-righteousness.

We lay down when we choose to own our own stories and places within them, learning how to love ourselves right there in the middle of our messiest becoming.  

We lay down when we stand in the face of power plays and politics and say, not today.  Not ever. Just NO. I am no longer going to be part of a narrative in Christ’s name that is antithetical to his character.

My unraveling.  Saying yes to living it, and now writing from it might just be the bravest thing I’ve ever done.

I am writing as a woman who was in senior leadership in relatively conservative ministry settings for over 20 years before walking away.  I am writing as someone who lived outside her home culture for much of her young adult life and found out there’s no such thing as coming home again (at least to the home you knew before you left).  I am writing as a trauma & spiritual abuse survivor who is no longer staying silent about systemic injustice or the harm she’s witnessed or experienced.

Many who followed my journey in Africa have written me over the years asking if I have lost my faith, largely because it has not been a topic I’ve written about much if at all over the last few years.

The simplest way to explain that silence is to say sometimes you have to let go of old words to find new ones.  And the words and faith-rhetoric I once had no longer effectively or authentically represented my current experience.

Jesus was the beginning of my faith.  Not the organized church. Not a sermon or salvation message.  Not an altar call.  Not evangelical theology.  Not biblical dogma and debate or apologetics.  Not conservative politics or nationalistic agendas. Not revival subculture.  Not famous leaders, mega-conferences or best-selling books.

Just Jesus. And an endless Love I could not comprehend.

These last few years have stripped everything back to the place where I began.   And I could not be more grateful.

Some topics here might be uncomfortable, especially for friends who are heavily invested in the US conservative political-religious system or evangelical subcultures.  Heads up, I might be poking at some sacred cows.

I am also aware that some things I write here might feel “too Christian” for friends who have been abused by Christian leaders.  If that’s you, I am more concerned with your well-being than you reading the latest post.  Please be free to skip over anything that makes you feel unsafe for any reason.

My allegiances are with the person of Jesus, not an institution. As I expect will be clear as things unfold here. But I only want you to engage to the level you feel it helpful to do so.  Take what helps, toss or shelve the rest.

Regardless of what you believe or where your story has taken you, I want you to know you are welcome here.  You are wanted.  And you are loved.

—DMP