Guts Does Not Always Equal Glory


When I think of the word “glory,” several images and phrases come to mind. “The glory of God” with rays of sunshine bursting through the clouds at just the right moment. “All guts and no glory” for the athletes who work their tails off in a sports game and end up losing in the end. “For his glory,” said in my conservative Christian days as a way of indicating that things were done for God and not for us.

The dictionary defines the noun “glory” as “high renown or honor won by notable achievements,” and “magnificence or great beauty,” or as a verb—“to take great pride or pleasure in.”

Guts are often associated with glory.

Glory comes to those with a certain kind of strength, courage, aptitude, ability, and risk. Often, when I think of glory I see medals being placed upon necks and flowers being awarded. Of accepting honors, being recognized, crowns and awards.

In the wild and upside down kingdom of God that Jesus called us to, guts does not always equal glory in the ways we associate with it.

In fact, it’s usually the opposite.

In my life at The Refuge community and the wider world of faith-shifting friends, I see people every day of my life exhibiting a helluva lot of guts.

Here’s what I get to see:

People who keep getting back up, no matter how many times the oppressive systems and life circumstances keep kicking them down. 

Friends helping people freely, even though they couldn’t be more different from them.

Activists advocating for change and justice, putting their bodies on the line for the sake of others.

Wounded warriors who fought the good fight for Jesus for decades and now are on the side of the road bleeding but keep crawling toward healing.

People learning to love themselves after a lifetime of self-hatred, which sometimes takes the most guts of all.

Presence. The simple act of just being with another human with no agenda, no advice, no “here’s what you need to do to get to where I think you should be.”

Yeah, I see guts all over the place, but it rarely is associated with the kind of glory we’re used to.

It doesn’t get praised.

It doesn’t get awards.

It doesn’t get “fully funded.”

It doesn’t get to be the story that gets told from the pulpit at church.

It doesn’t get the “praise Gods” and the “Amens” and all the kinds of things we are used to doing in response to things we think are extra God stuff.

Guts does not always equal glory in the world’s and often the church’s eyes. 

An in-the-flesh messy engaged life—lived with guts—will actually land a lot of us out on the curb from many of the relationships and systems we’ve been part.

We’ll often be called too much, too radical, heretical, ungodly, divisive for some of the things we know we are called to do.

We’ll break unspoken boundaries and get told we need to get back into line.

We’ll sometimes lose our jobs, friendships, funding, and a whole host of other things when we know we can no longer live safe or comfortable or confined any longer.

Yeah, guts does not always equal glory in the world’s and often the church’s eyes.

But the kind of guts Jesus was talking about, is the kind of guts I want to have.

Guts to buck the status quo at all costs, because it’s oppressing people on the underside of power.

Guts to listen to the soul stirrings in our heart and act on them.

Guts to agitate, advocate, educate on behalf of change.

Guts to love in hard places.

Guts to be ourselves, not someone we think we should be.

My guts have gotten me into a lot of trouble over the years. Standing up for people on the margins, advocating for equality, refusing to participate in unjust systems, and always talking about recovery and healing has not been the “smartest” move in terms of advancing in the Christian world, trust me. It makes me laugh sometimes when I think how different my life could have been had I toed the line, did what the patriarchy told me I should do, played the glory game. I would be making a lot more money right now, that’s for sure, ha!

But there’s not a day that goes by that I am not extremely thankful for a different view of guts and glory.

The kind of glory I get to see has nothing to do with crowns or money or trite God phrases. It has to do with people healing in all kinds of wild and often unperceivable ways. Even though many might think it’s pretty weird or ugly or unsuccessful, to me, it truly is “beautiful, magnificent, and brings great pleasure.”

Jesus was always telling us that what made sense in the world and religion’s eyes didn’t make sense in this new kind of kingdom.

Every Advent season, I’m reminded how everyone was wanting a different kind of glory than the one we got in Jesus, born in the muck, dirt and grime of real life to simple people trying to simply live.

SheLovelys, here’s to living with guts and courage—whatever that looks like for each of us—with no regard for the world’s kind of glory. Trust me, we’ll get to experience a different kind of glory and it’s really pretty.