This is the post where I illustrate my ultimate church brat status. And I'm so proud.

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hen I was growing up my mama listened to the music of Nichole Nordeman a lot. For those of you who don't know, she's a contemporary Christian artist. She had a few albums in the late '90s and early 2000s, and my mom used to sing some of her songs in church. When I was younger, and just learning that I could sing, I would also sing in church, or in children's church, and some of the songs I picked were Nichole's songs.

I remember when her album Brave came out. I feel reasonably positive in saying that Mom bought the CD at the store and popped it in the CD player of her Honda Odyssey (this is one of many iterations of a Honda Odyssey that Mom has owned).

I was captivated by the first track, the title track, "Brave."

In hindsight, this is no surprise.

What I remember most were the words. In fact, most of what I remember about this album are the lyrics.

The gate is wide, the road is paved in moderation.
The crowd is kind and quick to pull you in.
Welcome to the middle ground;
you're safe and sound and
Until now it's where I've been.

'Cause it's been fear that ties me down to everything,
But it's been love, Your love that cuts the strings.

So long, status quo,
I think I just let go.
You make me wanna be brave.
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me wanna be brave.

I couldn't have been more than ten or eleven years old, but the words stuck in my brain. I wanted to be that way.

Come to think of it, this is before I had ever read The Lord of the Rings, or The Hobbit, which I read before even the trilogy. This may have been where it all started.

This is where I recognized, as an eleven-year-old girl (tops), that I wasn't brave -- but I knew I wanted to be.

Maybe that's not the right way to talk about it. I've always been brave, I think. I look back on my younger self -- the self that told the neighbor girl down the street that it was okay if she didn't want to be friends with me; I had plenty of friends -- and I want to high-five her. I want to hold her little face in my hands and tell her I know she had always been brave. She always had it in her. She just didn't know about it.

(What it took to know about it was one breakup and one prayer, but those would come a lot later.)

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Fast forward from circa 2005 to 2017. Same girl is almost 23, and something -- y'all, something this past weekend just called me back to Nichole's songs. I found myself humming some of the songs my mom used to sing in church: "Gratitude," "Every Season," "Legacy." She had always wanted to sing "Brave," but I don't think she did -- at least, not to my recollection.

I opened Spotify. I searched for Nichole's music. Tapped the song I most remembered: "Brave."

I was driving home from my friend Kayla's apartment late on a Sunday night. It was dark, and it was after 10 pm, and my little Civic was filled with the instantly familiar keyboard sound.

Y'all. I cried.

It's funny how we remember things down through the years. If you had asked me, I don't think I would have believed that I still knew all the words, but I sure did.

The song was my anthem when I was a pre-teen (or, as my younger brother Cooper once said, a pro-teen). And as I sang along last night (and harmonized on the very spot), I knew: it still is.

I am small, and I speak when I'm spoken to,
But I am willing to risk it all.
I say Your Name, just Your Name,
And I'm ready to jump,
Even ready to fall.

Why did I take this vow of compromise?
Why did I try to keep it all inside?

So long, status quo,
I think I just let go.
You make me wanna be brave...

I cried as I realized how true the words were for me. How they've been true for me for YEARS, until in the course of the last three or four, I've started to realize: maybe I'm small, and maybe I'm frightened, but I'm brave.

I haven't been able to stop listening for about the last 24 hours. Sometimes it takes going back to our childhoods to remember who we really are.

I've always wanted to be brave. And now I realize: I always was.

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