Leeana Tankersley will tell you she is a gypsy at heart; a freedom-seeker who is wildly ready for breath and life and creating. But even this gypsy at times sees her own courage and creativity buried and hidden under a lie. The lie that she is not worthy of her calling. In the midst of Middle East, mother-of-three stress, Leeana realized something – God is calling us to a brazen work; to reclaim our voice and recover our soul. It’s a grace to welcome Leeana to the farm’s front porch today…
The word brazen swam up from my soul and out of my mouth, intuitively, a few years ago.
We were living in the desert of the Middle East, stationed there for my husband Steve’s job in the Navy.
At that time in my life, my interior landscape matched the Middle Eastern landscape: beige.
The sky was beige. The sand was beige. The buildings were beige.
This is how I felt on the inside too.
A million miles away from home, taking care of my toddler twins and a newborn in a foreign and volatile world, slightly traumatized and definitely hypervigilant from a massive move and the—hardly worth mentioning—civil infighting going on around us.
You have likely been through a season like this. Not the beige of the Middle East, of course, but a beige all your own—a season of infighting, a season of trauma, a season of displacement and disorientation.
The light has become flat. A dimension seems to be missing. Breathing is about as much as can be accomplished in a day.
During those beige days, I saw something that woke me for a second, in a subversive way.
I was stopped on a dirt road near our rented villa. My eyes wandered out the window.
Gutter water ran beside my car, and riding high on the tide were the most striking hot pink bougainvillea petals dancing along. I whispered audibly, like a murmur from beyond, “Brazen.”
The dictionary definition of brazen is this perfect phrase: without shame. And it goes on from there: unrestrained by convention or propriety. Nervy. Bold-faced. Audacious. Shameless.
In that dull sludge water, I saw my own longing reflected back to me, my longing to feel that beautiful pink instead of all the beige, all the sludgy gutter water.
I wanted the color back.
I wanted to feel freedom to do and be and dance and play.
Freedom to roam and risk and create and work.
Freedom to love and rest and taste and see.
Freedom to make and believe and dream and fight.
Freedom to speak up and speak out, to know what it is I want to say, to recognize the sound of my own voice.
Sometimes, for a season, all we can expect from ourselves is to sit on the floor and breathe. And that’s plenty.
But then, after a week or a month or a year or three, after we have caught our breath, we must do the work of remembering that our issues are not the same thing as our identity.
We must emerge.
Walking into living color is vulnerable. So very vulnerable. It’s like coming out from a dark room and you have to squint to tolerate the light.
But at some point we let our eyes open again. We let ourselves expand. We let our hearts and souls wake up instead of believing that life and faith and healing and recovery are one big trick.
We do the brazen work of going after the “you” and the “me” that’s been hiding, buried, muted, lost, abandoned.
We invest in our own healing.
We do it as a debt of honor to ourselves and as our most profound worship to God, our creator.
We will not live in the dark, even if that means we have to walk around squinting for a time. We will let ourselves be seen.
There is no perfect time to be courageous.
Our emergence doesn’t happen when we are at our most brave. It often happens when we are at our most bruised.
We choose to lean into the tears and the fears and the dreams and the wild and we decide we will not hide.
Even though hiding feels like so much less work.
What if you and I are stronger than we think?
What if we are more intuitive than we assume?
What if we possess greater competence than we’ll admit?
What if we have more of a voice than we believe? When you and I question our brazenness, let’s remember one seriously outrageous fact:
On the day we were created, God spoke over our newly formed existence and said, “It is good.”
Creativity, courage, freedom, and even a God-given wild were woven into us.
But over time we began to believe that the most essential thing about us isn’t this “good” that He declared. We began to believe that the most essential thing about us is that we are flawed.
So many of us have lived with any number of things that have gnawed into the longed-for freedom.
Pesky habits with the forbidden.
The worst kind of worry.
A tendency to shrink.
A timid tongue.
A total lack of confidence in a bathing suit. And so on.
We begin to believe that the power of these issues exceeds the power of our identity. We lose track of our own resilience, the creative strength God Himself put within us.
God says, “I know you’re not perfect. But do you know you are beautiful? Go. Explore. Experience. Express. Remember who you are.”
You are not abuse.
You are not anxiety.
You are not depression.
You are not infertility.
You are not divorce.
You are not abortion.
You are not addiction.
You are not failure.
You are not your body.
You are not the beige.
You are the beloved, precious soul. The brazen, beautiful beloved.
Just recently I found a cabinet hidden in the recesses of our garage, still wrapped in plastic wrap from our move home after our time in the Middle East.
It’s a pretty aqua cabinet that I had completely forgotten about. I cut away it’s wrapping and I opened the door for the first time in two years.
There, on the floor of the cabinet was a dried bougainvillea bloom, a single fuchsia stowaway from a foreign land.
A message in a cabinet: Yes, it is time to be brazen.
God looks for you and for me in the cool of the day. He calls out to us, “Where are you?”
Our whole life is to be the answer, “I’m coming.”
Leeana Tankersley is a writer, mom of three, and the author of three books: Found Art, Breathing Room, and Brazen. She and her husband live in San Diego, California, with their boy/girl twins, Luke and Lane (age 7), and their baby girl, Elle (age 4).
Leeana’s new book, Brazen: The Courage to Find the You That’s Been Hiding, is an invitation to receive your identity, to reclaim your voice, and to recover your soul. She wants women to unapologetically move from shame- and fear-based living toward lives that are based on love and belonging. This book contains stories, interactive elements, and spiritual truths that will coax all of you into the light. Just as God intended. I wish I could get this book into the hands of every woman.
[ Our humble thanks to Baker Publishing for their partnership in today’s devotion ]