Today I Am Brave


” … I can’t want to be brave. I must be brave.”

By Brenna D’Ambrosio | Twitter: @chicagomama

I live in fear.

I know I’m not supposed to, but it grips me so tight that I’ve forgotten what it feels like to function without it. With each step I take, I am painfully aware of this fear, my traveling companion. We are in a muddled, co-dependent relationship. But I want out.

I want to be brave.

I want a lot of things. I want to keep living in the city, but I am scared that my kids won’t have a quality education and that they won’t thrive due to a lack of outdoor space and that the busy streets will harm them if they accidentally step off the sidewalk.

I want to be brave.

I want to write all the things I have in my heart, but I am scared I’ll unintentionally hurt others through my words. I’m scared my words won’t be good enough. I’m scared my words won’t matter. I’m scared I don’t matter.

I want to be brave.

I want to go to church service each week and sit in God’s presence, but I’m scared that if I am not busy serving, somehow God will  love me less or won’t see me at all.

I want to be brave.

I want to say a big YES to my husband and agree to follow our dreams no matter the cost, but I am so weary and tired—scared of not having enough. I can remember what it was like to do without growing up and maybe that is when fear started gripping my heart. I don’t want that for my girls.

We have an amazing life full of love and three beautiful girls. I couldn’t ask for more. But this wasn’t the life we thought we would have. Birthed in us were dreams of far off places, where women walked with piles of pita on their heads, donkeys pulled carts alongside bustling highways, and the air smelled of spice. The sun would always shine hot and bright on us. Our days would be spent speaking Arabic, teaching English, playing with orphans, and building up businesses. But it didn’t happen. And in the quiet of the night I hear fear whisper, “It’s all your fault.”

I want to be brave.

I have these hopes and passions that swirl around me and sometimes they feel conflicting. I long to adopt more children, give them a home where they will be loved and cherished and believed in—a place to make their dreams come true.

I want to open the eyes of children, especially young girls, to see their worth and value. Speak life to them. Give them space to dream big and the support to do big things.

I want to live with intention here in the city. Oh how I want to embrace this beautiful, multi-ethnic neighborhood that we chose and really get to know our neighbors. I long to let our lives intertwine and blur the line between “us” and “them.”

And I want to be overseas some day. It seems so far away, so distant now, but there is a part of me that still wants it, even though it feels as if that was ripped away from us. I want to walk down the streets with my girls at my side, sand creeping in my sandals, showing them the beauty in this world. I want them to see with God’s eyes and help them to feel part of this big, beautiful church.

But I can’t want to be brave.

I must be brave. I need to be brave. I will be brave.

Today, right now, I push back against the fear. I leave behind the memories of failure and betrayal. I step out of my past and into my present. I move toward the place where the sun shines on me, even when all feels lost.

I will let go of my need to plan and remember that my days are already numbered. I will forget my mistakes. I will let go of my disappointments. I will remember who I am, a child of God. A woman of strength.

Today, I am brave.


About Brenna:

A city-living, tender-hearted wife and mama to three little girls who encourage me daily to seek out the beauty in life. I love Diet Coke, homemade bread and Indian food. There is always something cooking in the oven. You will most likely find me shuffling my girls off to an activity or cuddling with my family at home. I blog about brokenness and redemption at and you can find me on Twitter at @chicagomama.

Image credit: Sars Richardson