When Brave Speaks: An Allume Recap

Stay up all night with the things you dream. Drink down the conversation and forget the pressure of your keys under your fingers and the burden of words in your belly. Like fire breathing out of your pores, you find yourself sweaty and breathless in the conversations that stir up in the lunch lines and across tables and with your legs curled beneath you, cute boots tossed to the side, and this is right.

This is the kneeling that comes when you are in the sweet spot.

It’s this place, on bended knees that you’re hearing from God.

He’s speaking through the woman with the cute ankle booties and in another lifetime you would have judged her. You would have written off her story because her hair cascades down in long perfectly cut layers and her makeup is flawless and you’re pretty sure she’s never wrung her hands worried that she’s not going to make rent this month. You would have never seen the cracks where glory shines through. You would have only looked on the perfection and clicked away, continued to browse for ones that look like you. The sweaty breathless messes.

Melanie Shankle

And you would have thought your story had more weight. More gravity and pulling down into earth than her.

Because you’ve gotten dirty, been dirty, flung arms wide into the air and cursed God, and he ransomed you anyway. And you’ve never forgotten how far you fall, you’ve never forgotten how your heart curls in on itself at times and is brittle to the touch, and you’ve never forgotten how when you write those words like a prayer, God fills you up. And when you hear her speak, even though she looks different, you know she knows this too. God fills her up.

She’s talking and you’re listening and this is grace and miracle. That you gathered voluntarily with 453 women and you feel nothing but peace.

You, that never belongs. You, that always tugs at the hem of your dress and hopes to God as you walk across the lobby that your dress isn’t tucked into your underwear because that’s happened before and no one told you. You, who stumble in the awkward pauses and sometimes can’t find the words for all the things whirring in your head and so instead you replay the conversation hours later and insert all the things you would have said and you seem so much smarter in this revised conversation, so much wittier when you get to do it again laying in your bed at night. You, who makes yourself the hero in the retelling, in the imagination of stages and screens and things where you feel seen.

But not this time.

Because this time you’re not worrying about your words. This time you’re listening to theirs.  You’re not thinking about what you have to say, you’re thinking of what you can hear. The collective thrum of these God women.

You stand still and lift your  heart and it pounds in your ears and you feel hot tears you don’t bother to wipe away, and in this moment you hear all hearts beating together. The kick drum pulses and you feel the whole world shift a little.

Because there is the girl who is catching up with words God’s put inside her teeny tiny frame and you wouldn’t know it looking at her because she could fit in your pocket but there’s a ferocity there. A voice that thunders in her words, because she has a story to tell. Of fear released and faith found. A walking into and with the promises of God. Fear not, I am with you.

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And you curl into couches and talk about perfect love and the casting out of fears and you nod along because it’s just that. It’s the resting in perfect love. And every conversation you have with the  brave women there brings you back here. You meet so many brave women living who they are. 

Brave speaks into all the spaces you fill.

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You feel free. Maybe the freest you’ve ever been with these words, but you’ve fought for it. You’ve had to repent and lay things down a thousand times and you know there will be a thousand more.

You’ve had to turn off notices and analytics and you wish you were different but you’re not. It gets to you in ways you wish you could ignore. But you’ve done it. You’ve done it because you don’t ever want it to be about you. You’ve prayed, “kill it, Lord, if it ever becomes about me.” And He very nearly has.

And you find you’re ok with that, and you find you are surprised, and you realize just how hard you were holding it when you started. And how easy it is for loose grasped open palms to curl shut like a trap. 

You think of rest as a slumber, a closing of eyes after a long day, sunshine on your face and the stretch of long limbs into summer hammocks. But this rest is different.

This is the panting exhale after a battle. The heaving form of a body doubled over and at its end, a body that’s been bloodied and bruised and is pulled off the battle field, your full weight bearing down on God. And you realize that this is the only place you ever want to be. With feet that can barely stand, with limbs tired and worn and the embrace of God holding you up.

You realize you are only brave now because no one can touch you here. There is nothing that you want more than to be held up by God. And you pray a million times you never forget again.

And God tells you something. He tells you to fight hard and it looks a lot like resting in His arms.

What would happen if we all felt a little braver after this? Might we shape our words with grace? Because it’s easier to rant and rage and tear down than it is to build and extend and reach out.

If you let go of all that righteous anger, you might just have to deal with the pain that circles the rim of your words.

Might we face those blank screens with renewed hope that the words we type out are an offering of communion? Our very own flesh and blood broken and shared in the fellowship of His suffering?

Might we realize that broken people have sharp cracked edges and they wield themselves to wound, without knowing any better? And if you’re going to push into community you may very well get hurt. You may end up as ripped apart as you’ve ever been but you’re not fighting alone. God went to the cross for us, we’re gonna have scars too if we want to look like Jesus.

And you know there are those who slipped under the cracks and found themselves army crawling, bellies to the ground inching their way along past scars because they haven’t gotten it yet. Haven’t found the trick to being brave. It’s not in being seen or heard or known. It’s not in your words being shared or read or published. It’s in the surrender.

It’s in resting. You are brave when you abandon yourself to the absolute provision and grace of Jesus with not one thing added.

And you’re watching the twitter feed and the comments and you know some are hurting. You know they are confused because you’ve been there. And you wish you could set them free from all the mess they’re carrying around. You wish you could unbind them.

So often you’ve come away from  all the things, where women gather and chat in groups and you’ve felt unseen and unheard and a thousand times smaller than when you went.

You’ve stood on the fringes and waited to be invited in. And you’ve walked away awkward and hurting inside.

And you wonder if you’re the only one who ever sees the ugly parts. You wonder if you tell the truth or instead say it’s pretty and tie it up with a tidy knot that grows resentment and bitterness in your gut.  Because you used to tell the truth, your truth, at any cost.

You pushed hard and said the tough things and maybe you made those around you bleed a little too.

And you’re finding now that sometimes God has you speak, and sometimes He has you reach out and bind hearts with a smile booth or a conversation, and sometimes He has you kneel and pray and keep lips silent, and you’re wise to know the difference.

Because the truth looks a lot different these days. The truth looks a whole lot more like your own heart splayed and your own motives confessed and your own hands unclean and lifted to be washed. The truth looks a whole lot more like freedom.

Linking up with the beautiful community at

Comments

  1. says

    This. Definitely. Exactly how I’ve felt, been feeling, wrestled with while there. But we can’t always wait to be invited in, can we? I’m so glad God gave me the courage this weekend to seek out those I needed to meet rather than waiting and hoping they would know me first. It is so freeing when it becomes an offering bak to Him and not just a story about me.

  2. says

    I just love you Alia. Your heart, your words, your courage. You were one of the women I most wanted to meet at Allume and I’m so glad I did! Praying for you as you prepare to head half way across the world to Africa. Praying for this time of preparation before you go, for safe travels and for grace and wisdom and love to pour out of you. You are a blessing to me and to so many others. Godspeed friend:)

  3. says

    You! You are ready to become part of a bigger story that may not necessarily be your own to live, but it will be yours to tell my friend. Sometimes the listening is harder than answering, especially if we’ve been planning those perfect words the whole time the other was talking. That picture up there is the glory space you graciously let me share when I’d about had enough and needed quiet comfort of friends. Thanks for your wisdom that you share, friend!

  4. says

    I didn’t have anymore tears to cry that day, but today I do and I just boohooed ugly all over my laptop. You. I just have no words and that really is saying something right now. Maybe, just maybe we will stop counting and just know as Ann said that we count, all equally, we count. Thanks for cheering and listening and nodding a holy “Amen” with me.

  5. says

    This is truth. A struggle for me still. I felt awkward and lonely at times and other times free, loved, and bonded…I’m still trying to figure out what Allume was for me. Did to me…brought out in me.

    That surrender is so hard. But you’re right…it’s truth and freedom. Still learning to let go over here.

  6. says

    Love this. “If you let go of the righteous anger you might have to deal with the hurt that circles the rim of those words.” Yes.
    I wish we could have had more time than that original bump. I didn’t have the courage to pursue you. You are one of the greats-in my opinion. I wondered if you would have been willing to chat with me. Next year I will.

  7. says

    “And you know there are those who slipped under the cracks and found themselves army crawling, bellies to the ground inching their way along past scars because they haven’t gotten it yet. Haven’t found the trick to being brave. It’s not in being seen or heard or known. It’s not in your words being shared or read or published. It’s in the surrender.”

    Amen Sister. I love that. Glad you are chin-up and I praise God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads His fragrance. You are a sweet fragrance of Christ…Go bless Africa! <3

  8. says

    Ohh this is amazing. Amazing and I’m so glad you say the all the things we all need to hear again even after this wonderful weekend. Sooo so good.

  9. says

    Alia, this is so so encouraging. “And God tells you something. He tells you to fight hard and it looks a lot like resting in His arms….It’s in resting. You are brave when you abandon yourself to the absolute provision and grace of Jesus with not one thing added.” May God write these words on my heart. I really relate to you, and asking God to help me surrender more and more of me to Him. And the willingness to be wounded in loving is such a good perspective – that’s being like Jesus!

  10. kristenchasingblueskies says

    Alia! Bravo. BRA-VO. Dang, I want to write like you when I grow up.

    This right here: ” You’re not thinking about what you have to say, you’re thinking of what you can hear.” ~ yes and amen.

    And at Allume? You looked as stunning as your written words. Always. Although if your dress had been tucked up and under, I’da told you. :)

    Love you to pieces and still much more.

  11. says

    Hi Alia, I am new to your blog; found you through the Allume link-up (which is also new to me…I wish I had learned about this conference sooner!). I just wanted to thank you for this beautiful post. You’ve managed to articulate so much of what/how I feel and even though we don’t know one another, I feel SO understood…thank you.

    I am looking forward to following along on your blog and hope to connect with this beautiful community so that when I attend the conference next year, I know I will be among friends!

    So happy to meet you. :)

  12. says

    I love you. All of you. Even the parts I don’t know. Can’t explain why God throws people together the way He does..but I do feel like I won big when I met you. This. is gorgeousness. Have a broken and blessed time in Africa my friend.

  13. says

    “You’re thinking of what you can hear.” This has been bumping around in my brain AND heart for the better part of the last 2 days. I can’t think of what I want to say for the reading of it. And I am glad. You force me to examine my motives, Alia. You are wise to know the difference of All The Things and your wisdom pours out here. And I’m so thankful for you and your willingness to be offered up by Him, used up by Him, and poured out here by Him.

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