Defending the Heart | about the blog

I’ve been here before.

Arriving to the keyboard with bright eyes and high expectations, I’ve opened a blank word document, certain this would be easy. And when it turned out to be difficult, I stopped.

I stopped to listen to lies. When the nights told me to silence my dreams and the day-to-day told me to quiet my hopes, I listened. They told me, you’re not good enough, it isn’t time, no one cares.

Maybe you get this. In some ways, I hope you don’t. I hope that you are braver than me when it comes to pursuing your dreams. Being stuck in this pattern of too busy now, later, someday, maybe never sucks. It will leave you unfulfilled – like you’ve missed your opportunity to get what you always wanted.

In other ways, I hope I’m not alone in feeling this. I want to believe this is a normal human thing we all either choose to succumb to or overcome. Honestly, I want to believe we could learn to overcome it together. It moves me to think there are other girls who need words of truth spoken over them too. As if the same words I need to hear and believe are the same ones that someone else needs too. It makes me feel less like an outcast.    

There was a night not too long ago when I saw this in front of me, and wholeheartedly believed it’s not crazy to think we could overcome this tragedy of fear together.

Some friends surprised me for a belated birthday celebration that was morphed into a Life-Has-Been-Hard-and-We-Just-Want-to-Show-Love-to-You gathering. We shared a booth in a dimly lit, trendy room next to the river. The view from the parking lot showcases the downtown high rises on the left, with all its Friday night sounds rising into the sky. The bridges arch over the glittering waters on the right as cars passed over. It’s beautiful. Laughter and loud talks filled our space across a wide table.

I think this is how it happened: We had been talking about celebrities we’d like to meet. That got us on the subject of a popular author. That particular author’s message got us reflecting. And then, one of my friends piped up about how flaky our generation is, admitting how hard it is to get things done. It was a confession we all knew and felt too. We nodded with our friend affirming, Yes, girl. We really get that.

The same girl thought for a second, and finished, “But we’re just going to keep trying. Keep working to the finish.”

The music was loud, and if the people milling past us and sipping their cocktails all around had stopped, I think they would have agreed with us. I think they would have stopped to raise their glasses too. But we didn’t wait for the rest.

We raised our glasses – glasses of different sizes and shapes and colors, some nearly empty and some almost full – and we clinked to our anthem, “To finishing.”

We confessed it. But the beautiful thing is we resolved to change it too. It felt like a quiet pact we made in ourselves to accomplish the hard work, and to go to our finish lines. Even though our races look different, we knew this was the group that would be honest with us when the lies attempted to come in and tell us to stop again.

As I left and the lights of Nashville skyline grew smaller in my rearview mirror, I thought about finishing some more. With my foot on the gas, I recalled who I am, where I am, and why it’s all so important. This is what I came up with:

My name is Brianna. I lean heavily on and believe deeply in the story of Jesus. I’m married to a man who is genuinely kind, and we live in a sweet neighborhood nestled in Nashville’s most diverse side of town. We have two cats that are gifts from God, or so I think, and help me tremendously after a long day at work.

Work. This is what I most love to tell people, but also freeze up some when it’s brought up because there’s so much to say. Here’s the gist: I serve refugees in an after school program, and by teaching English as a Second Language. I care about helping people becoming literate and empowering them to rise out of their hardships. I’ve learned over the last couple years that I believe in this because my faith compels me to seek dignity for all people. I’m far from an expert, but I’m passionate about this calling and care about bridging literacy gaps and helping misunderstood people be understood.

I care about other things too, they just feel smaller in some ways. Like where my trash is going and what’s happening to my money. I believe in the power of stories and little things, and take great pride in having read more books for fun in the last year than I have in the last 5 years combined. Tidying up, watching hockey, and caring for plants have also become important little things to me lately too.

And then I thought: Why should I care this is where I am? Who I am, even.

I care because God cared first.

This isn’t a surprise. He has allowed these things to come. He’s planted my feet in this corridor just outside the bustle of downtown. He’s brought these people I see every week here. He shows me evidence of Him in the little moments. He teaches me through them. He greets me every morning with a purpose, a task, beckoning me to do something meaningful on this earth.

And when I consider all the things He’s done for me, I can’t help but want to tell someone about them. That’s when I start writing.

I step into ordinary places. I see extraordinary things. God gives me thoughts of Him and people. And I deeply believe I get to share it.  Not out of obligation, but out of divine privilege to catch glimpses of a God is not easily contained.

I know this is going to be imperfect – and I’m still finding peace with that. But I came to this space again, with bright eyes and enthusiasm, to share stories of life and faith. I’m here to practice the discipline of learning how to finish what has been started. I’m here to believe that God loves when we talk about His good works, and to do as well as I can today with that calling.

Honestly, even if this task is only for the sole purpose of communing more intimately with Him, then it’s worth it. Maybe two of you will only ever take my words to heart. I think the only way I can be okay with that is knowing someone grew closer to Him in the process.

There’s not much of a plan. Again, I’m still finding peace with that. I do believe it will come in words of serving others, the story of refugees, the beautiful quirks of marriage. I’m here to tell you stories that uplift and encourage you. Or maybe even call you out. I want you to know what God is really like, and not the lies that fly around the Bible belt as flippantly as the weather changes. I desperately want you to believe that God is One who cares about the little things, crafts incredible stories, and gives life a purpose.

Some of the most restoring work we can do in our humanity is to know that God exists in our every day. The mundane is beautiful. The hard work of serving others with humility and gentleness is worth it. I’m learning this, albeit imperfectly, through the lives of the refugees I meet. It’s not glamorous work, but it’s meaningful.

You feel this too. Maybe it’s not by serving refugees or teaching English. But, even so – you get up every day to do something. You hope it means something. You want all of this to mean something. Even when it feels so pointless and useless, even when you’re tempted to believe it’s not worth it, something within you compels you to want to believe there is more.

We’re going to draw nearer to Him on this blog. In a world of fibs, hurts, rejection, and confusion, we’re entering into a space of light and honesty. We’re coming into a reality where there is hope and encouragement, and where even the small things are esteemed.

We’re here to empower the mundane to change us, and to emphasize what can happen when we live a life in pursuit of beautiful stories. Welcome.