The school of courage is out here, in the wild.

There’s an illusion which says when we are in the place we are meant to be, the healthiest place, the place God has for us, we will feel no fear. We will always feel in control. We will be surrounded by safety and certainty and the path will be clear. In this way, we are able to be led into places which are actually toxic, dysfunctional and damaging. They draw us in and hold us where we have no business being for the sake of safety, and they keep us there by promising us what we think we need. They promise security. They promise happiness. They promise certainty, they promise control. They promise love.

You and I both know that many of these places and tribes we join ourselves to turn out to be anything other than what was promised.

The lie we bought was designed to make us afraid of dying out there. It counted on us believing the least of ourselves, the worst of ourselves. It counted on us continuing to be afraid, and buying into an illusion safety could be found in coming in, away from the uncertainty and the badness out there in the wild, wild world.

The true badness was in them telling us we would never survive on our own.

The world is wild, free, sublime, elemental. And so are you. You can run, hide, deny, make yourself small, and all you’ll ever be doing is giving into the fear. At some point, you’ll need to accept there is no place you can go to be secure, not tribe you can belong to who can keep you safe, or give you certainty. You must be secure. You must be safe. You must be certain.

You are a worldly, wild, sublime, elemental being. You were made to glean your strength from resisting, observing and drawing from the things that you prevail against. To grow and to stand, like a tree grows and stands. You were made to storm, to bend, to blow and yes, even to break. But you were also made to heal. And to fruit.

We have sterilised systematically all of our beautiful wild selves, by greenhousing in cloistered safe-houses and under coverings which caused us to never learn how not to fear. We can’t understand why the sunlight and the wind burns us so, when all we’ve ever known is the strength of the stake we were tied to, the taste of the rations they meted out to us. And now we are on our own, self-directed as ever we were, our hearts leading us out now instead of in, and we realise we have never learned to feed ourselves, to hunt, to gather, to glean, to dig, to plant, to harvest or to feast. And we don’t know where to begin.

The problems isn’t that we left the greenhouse. It’s that the greenhouse only ever equipped us for a safe, featureless existence. If you will have courage, you are going to need to learn to thrive in the environment you were created for.

You pray for courage, but courage is the result of facing fears and overcoming them, not the result of prayer. You pray for provision and protection, for wisdom, as if these things could be dropped onto you as rain drops onto a leaf. You must do the work, sweet ones, but don’t despise it. Does a tree despise the fact it must send its roots out in search of water? Does the water despise the fact it must push its way over the ground and wear rocks away to find its way to the sea? You will work like the wind works a dune of sand, like a butterfly works its way out of a cocoon. Without complaining about the difficulty of it, without needing attention from the world to validate its experience, without constantly returning to the experience of its not-quite-yet-ness. There is a sweet, sad drama in the story of your becoming free, and you can share that story to help others also on the journey. But if your journey has become a long progression of days which look spitefully back at the reasons you ran into the wilderness, or longingly forward to a future, far off day when you’ll feel free, without your ever doing anything to let go of one or hold tighter to the other, you’re not growing. You’re not healing. Check the waters. If they’re brackish, or bitter, it’s time to get moving. It’s time to break camp and get going, my dear.

You thought Gods will was a perfect, safe place, didn’t you? You thought when you arrived there all your struggles would be gone and your enemies vanquished. That’s not something God would ever do for you, because those conditions require nothing of you that would make you more of who you are. Those perfect, safe, quiet, greenhouse conditions are like a spiritual retirement home. Which is really a kind of hell. When a tree stops growing, it starts dying. When water stops flowing, it can not longer sustain life. What makes you think you’ll stop feeling fear just because you’ve got your world under perfect control, just because no bad things can happen, just because you’ve assigned your lot to the safety of a tribe? You will cast out all fear with courage, my dear, and the school of courage is out here, in the wild.

Love, Jo xxx

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