We all come to moments when it seems it would be easier to slam the door of our hearts, especially now in this noisy, frustrated world. Holley Gerth came to such a moment in her life and knew she had a choice: to live fearfully and love safely, or to live fully and love bravely. She chose the latter. She’s here to share her story and help us all learn a bit more about what it means to be Fiercehearted. It’s a grace to welcome Holley to the farm’s front porch today…
The news came one fall afternoon.
The leaves had just started acting like that neighbor woman who always wore the plain housecoat until showing up at the block party in the audacious dress everyone talked about for weeks.
Reds and oranges and flashes of gold. Perfume bittersweet as the edge of a burnt marshmallow.
I was driving to my in-laws’ house when I heard.
I wanted to push the gas pedal into the floor until it snapped or slam the brakes so hard my tires would write my broken heart on the pavement in ugly skid marks.
I did neither.
Instead, I just kept going. Isn’t that the way with us?
But inside me something had shattered. Trust.
A friend had hurt me in a way I’d never expected. Normally, I’d just say, “Oh, that’s okay.” I tried. I gave the speech in my mind a thousand times.
But it wouldn’t make its way to my lips or fingertips, and I felt panicked.
Because I am a woman who has always hated conflict. I would rather go under the drill at the dentist than exchange tense words with someone I love.
Let me pause and confess I full-out know better.
I have a master’s degree in counseling, for goodness’ sake. But I’m starting to understand there are two kinds of knowing in this world.
The first is in your head, where everything makes sense and is as pristine as a laboratory.
The other is the kind where Scripture says things like, “Adam knew Eve.”
We used to blush and giggle in Sunday school at that one because we guessed what it really meant.
But aside from the sexy talk, I think what that word knew expresses is experiencing something fully—with not only our minds but also our souls and hearts and bodies. And when this hurt happened, I didn’t know a thing about real, healing conflict on that kind of deeper level.
Looking back, I think I was just scared.
Conflict seemed like making yourself bare and putting your whole vulnerable heart out there. I didn’t appreciate the idea of my soft spots showing like a spring breaker’s on the beach. Better to stay buttoned up under the umbrella with my SPF 1000.
I got on a plane the day after I heard the news and stared out the window at an offensively clear evening sky as I considered my options.
I wanted with every part of me to slam the door of my heart.
Not just on this person but all people. I wanted to put a sign in the yard that said, “Trespassers will be shot.”
I wanted to board up the windows and put a mean dog on the porch. I wanted to be done with all humans everywhere for always and always.
Except I knew I still was one. And if I made this choice, I would suffocate in my own safety. All that was alive inside would die because I couldn’t let the light in.
And I sensed Jesus—very kind and tender and knowing far more than I what it is to feel crucified, waiting quietly for me to decide what to do.
I pulled out something to write on and cried in the dark while the flight attendant passed out crackly packages of peanuts. I sniffled into my too-small napkin and worried about scaring my seatmate.
But I couldn’t stop. Because this wasn’t just about this one time, this one thing.
And I knew once I finished my scribbling I could never go back to who I was or how I lived before. This was my map and declaration and manifesto:
A fiercehearted woman . . .
looks life in the face and says, “You can’t beat me.”
Knows love is risk but reaches out anyway.
Understands kindness takes real courage.
Believes the impossible.
Fights like she’s unstoppable.
Dares to find beauty in a ragged soul.
Scandalously picks warm over cool.
Tastes life as a brief, salty-sweet miracle.
Skins her knees, has scars that bear witness.
Defends like a warrior and weeps like a girl.
Makes gentle the new strong, small the new big,
ordinary the new extraordinary.
Sees wrinkles on a face as lines in a victory story.
Never gives in, never gives up, never lets go.
Chases Jesus with a tender, world-changing wildness.
Lives in your neighborhood or not even on your continent.
Looked back at you from the mirror this morning . . .
and has yet to fully see the force her star-scattering,
mountain-moving, water-walking God created her to be.
The wheels touched ground, and when we unloaded, I left some of my baggage on the plane. I left the part of me who had been nice out of fear, who had agreed because it was easier, who had silenced her own voice.
The next week I started going to counseling.
Then I sent the person who wounded me a note. I told the truth. Of my hurt. Of my hopes for our relationship becoming different. Of how much I loved her.
We’ve been making our way back toward each other again. But I’m not rushing. I’m not forcing the next step. That’s both difficult and down-deep healing all at once.
This story has no perfect, pretty ending.
The relationship is still being restored, brick by slow brick.
The temptation to be a peacekeeper instead of a peacemaker in my everyday life is still there all the time.
I’m practicing not “getting over” things but instead walking through them—an amateur tightrope artist who wishes for wings. But I know I’ve made a decision to live differently. I wouldn’t be here with you if it had gone the other way.
So here’s to whatever brings us to the point where we can no longer stay the same.
Here’s to keeping the front door open.
Here’s to doing the brave, hard thing.
Here’s to being fiercehearted.
Holley Gerth is the bestselling author of You’re Already Amazing and several other books, as well as a counselor and life coach. She’d love for you to connect with her at HolleyGerth.com or Fiercehearted.com and join her in the Fiercehearted Fall Study.
Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely is Holley’s most powerful and personal book yet. She empowers and encourages women not simply through “how to” but by life-changing, heart-freeing “me too.” Join Holley on this journey to becoming a fiercehearted woman and discover what she did: the freedom and courage to embrace life, love, and faith to the fullest because your struggles can no longer hold you back.
[ Our humble thanks to Revell for their partnership today’s devotion ]