Brave Girl


I submitted a blog post about a year ago to a website that I love reading. I was a friend of the editor and she’d asked me to write something.

“Absolutely.” I told her. “I’d be honored to contribute.”

I wrote what I thought was a really great article. I spent much longer on it that I usually spend on something like this and I poured over my own personal edits for an entire evening. I sent it off to her and waited to hear back.

“Sarah. This isn’t your normal writing. I don’t know what it is, but I just don’t see you in this. Something seems to have changed in you over the past year. What’s going on?”

What’s going on? Everything-I-can’t-tell-anyone-about is going on.

The email went on and on about how she wanted me to write with bravery and with each word it felt like she was driving a knife further into my chest. It’s one thing to say that the post wasn’t good, it’s one thing to ask me to rewrite, but it’s another thing to “notice” altogether that there was something generally wrong with my writing.

If there is something “wrong” with my writing, then a.) I don’t know what it is, b.) I can’t fix it, and c.) trust me, it pains me more than it pains you.

What I didn’t know then is that all the tumult in my marriage and in my home was actually affecting my writing. It was affecting my creativity. It was affecting the heart from which words flowed and I could do nothing about it, nor could I even recognize it.

I want to be a brave writer, not a simple one. I want to dig into the cake, all three layers, rather than just smooth icing across the top. I want my tombstone to say Brave and not Safe.

Because who remembers safe?

I don’t want to be the writer who submits so-so work. I want to be fully-me and full-brave and fully-what-I-know-I’m-supposed-to-be.

I want to be the brave girl in the room, not the pretty girl or the put-together one or the smart girl even. I want to be the brave girl. 

Bravery is hard to come by unfortunately, when I put limits on my own self.

Others can limit us for sure. But for the most part, I tell myself what I can do or what I cannot do. My therapist always asks me, “What voice are you listening to?” In essence, who is telling me I’m ugly or small or stupid or scared? Who is telling me that I don’t matter or I’m not worthy?I do this every day: I listen to the voices that want to keep me “safe.”

Even if we don’t write. Even if what we do well is be mothers or be friends or be people who create good in the world, even so we run the risk of limiting ourselves with fear, with what we think we can and cannot do and with the voices that shout loudly in our heads. Even if its not a Brave Writer that we want to be, and we want to be a Brave Friend or a Brave Daughter or a Brave Mother, we still are frozen with fear sometimes.

But bravery is so much more beautiful than fear. Bravery is so. much. more. beautiful. than. fear.

My friend the editor was correct in her assessment. I wasn’t ready to hear it at the time, but she was right. She saw what I was capable of and she knew that so much more was possible from me. She understood that who I was meant to be was the brave girl in the room and she knew how to call it out me.

And now over year later I’m finally starting to climb out. I’m finally starting to be brave. (Bravery might come in inches, but it does come.)

Are you a “brave girl?” Who do you know that’s brave? How have you seen bravery as beautiful?


  1. says

    I received exactly the same feedback after showing my work to a national newspaper. It hurts like hell.
    While I received this feedback, I kept thinking in the back of my head, ‘This means that I’m not a writer, because I don’t like to be dangerous… I like to play it safe.’
    But then I realized that I’ve got to be brave. I’ve got to try.
    Let’s try! And see what happens!

    • Sarah Markley says

      YES! I love this Vicki! Its hard when someone asks you to take a risk and you just don’t know how. Thank you for your comment!=)

  2. says

    You are right. Bravery is much more beautiful. It’s lived out for me in the lives of some beautiful people who will likely never be “known” as this world defines it – but they are walking roads with steps that echo in eternity. Through them, I am learning that being courageous is so much more than being strong. There is a beauty in the vulnerability of embracing both the bright and dark in the journey, in allowing my heart to propel my feet even as my voice trembles. I’ve come to understand – or is it that I’m still learning – what it means to have a voice that is heard versus having a voice that is simply loud.

  3. says

    Thank you for this. This post speaks so much to me right now! And I feel your struggle. Part of what I’m learning with blogging is how to say what I’m thinking, to let go of the fear that has kept me silent. You are so brave for writing!

  4. Inna says

    Sarah, have you heard of Brene Brown? Her TED talk and her books have been something that broke open (and free) some areas of my life.

    • Sarah Markley says

      i have heard of her! but i have not heard her speak. i’ll go look her up this week! thank you inna!

  5. Jenna says

    Seconding the recommendation to discover Brene Brown. Also, as an editor, I wanted to put it out there to anyone who has had an experience like that… We only respond to writers that we think are worth it. Even working for a small ministry magazine, let me tell you, editors get loads of pitches and press releases every day. The longer their response, the more of their limited time they have spent on you. Correction or being challenged by an editor should come with an encouragement every time: “We see something special in you. You are worth it. We think you have something great inside!” Even if it is a flat out rejection. There is no obligation in editing to respond to everyone. If they wrote back, especially if it included recommendations, know that they see potential and promise in you. This is not to say you don’t have what it takes if you were ignored, but just to encourage those who have received fair, but brutally honest criticism, please always take it with the knowledge that they consider you as a writer worth responding to and worth helping (because, to an editor, they are suggestions and helpful advice, not daggers. Even though they can hurt like that to a writer and we forget that, unfortunately.)

    • Sarah Markley says

      i love that jenna. and i love hearing the perspective from the side of the editor! i do love you editors =) you push us to do our best.

  6. says

    I read
    line upon line
    and tears fill my eyes.
    bravery ….
    everything-I-can’t-tell-anyone-about is going on ….
    i want to be a brave writer …
    safe makes me S.I.C.K
    i’m tired of being afraid
    i’m tired of settling out of fear.
    i want most of all to be brave for my children.
    thank you for sharing.
    it’s such a blessing to know
    that i am not the only one

    and i can’t help but wonder
    if you will be as moved by these words
    as i was when i first read them
    and still am today.

    you should definitely watch brene brown on

  7. says

    Such a great post. And absolutely something I am working on. I want to write funny, light, factual…but I know when i open it up and get really REAL is when people connect most with me.
    Thanks for sharing, and encouraging!

    • Sarah Markley says

      yes!! we need funny too! but for you? if brave for you is writing differently, then do it! just don’t forget the humor. we need more funny in our lives!!

  8. says

    Love this. Found you via Sarah Bessey on Twitter, and what a fabulous post. “Brave” has been a vitally important word for me, and I wear it on a pendant around my neck. Thanks for these inspiring words.

    • Sarah Markley says

      oh i’m so glad you are here!! welcome. i would love a brave necklace. hmm. i’ll have to find one =)

  9. says

    I’m not brave. Not most of the time, anyway. I listen to those voices, too, Sarah and I HATE them. Abhor. Loathe. Every other synonym you can think of.

    That’s why I love this post; I understand it from the inside out (though no one has ever told me I’m not brave.). I’m cheering with you, for you…excited to see what this means in your writing.

    Maybe mine, too. :)

  10. BraveGirl Stacey says

    Sarah! Thank you for your post today!
    As you can see from my name and e-mail address, BraveGirl has been my mantra for several months. Today, of all days I needed to read your words! Cuz, I haven’t been feeling very brave lately. In fact, I’ve felt very, very weak! I’ve been creeping on your blog watching your posts about marriage and losing houses, etc. Oh Brave Girl Sarah- if you only knew how much your words have been encouraging me! I’m in the middle of a dark ugly storm and I need to be brave!
    Thank you!

    • Sarah Markley says

      i love this stacey! way to be brave – by taking the name as well! I’m so glad that it’s been encouraging for you to be around. thank you so much, stacey!

  11. says

    Thank you, Sarah. You are being called upon to be brave because your friends see it in you already. They see that true you that He created. I love how–at the end of the struggle against the lies that tell us we are the opposite–we rise up, with Him, to see it more clearly, see His eyes for us more clearly. Something beautiful is awakening here.

  12. says

    I’m learning brave. In fact my whole blog is an ongoing experiment in brave.. I don’t always feel up to the task, and sometimes I let those voices get to me. I’d say you’ve been carrying the brave torch, despite how you may have felt at times. After all, true bravery only happens in the face of fear.

  13. Heather says

    Well whatever you felt like you lost, it’s back. The past week of posts have been crazy brave.. They ooze with realness.

    And you should know, I’m kinda a simple gal. I don’t read a lot on the internet. But I subscribed to your blog from the first post about your story a few years ago. I only subscribe to one blog right now, yours. I love getting your emails because it seems like you are writing in present tense, your right now life. ‘Safe” is exactly the word I could paint on my Christian high school life., and yet your blog makes me feel like we are walking towards bravery together.

  14. says

    This is so very timely for me! Bravery is so beautiful! We are often so fearful of revealing our scars. But our scars are irreplicable and beautiful in his sight! Powerful beyond measure. Survivor badges that can encourage, inspire and rescue others. Another great read. Thank you :)

  15. says

    I just made a brave leap today, and I’m left with that jittery can’t-believe-I-just-did-that feeling. Your post breathed courage to me. As the free falling brave girl who just let go of safety, I needed that. So thank you. Looking forward to meeting you in April for (in)RL!

  16. says

    sometimes…and i want to be. and then i reach for brave, but collapse in a heap. why is bravery so hard? why is it so difficult to be transparent? striving for bravery…for now, that is enough.

  17. says

    what deep hurt & awesome courage to write
    about a rejection, a correction.
    all our lives, we’ve all been taught
    by word & example
    to cover up, to defend, to control, to seek the sure thing!
    skye jethani hits it on the head (in his book, WITH)
    when he identifies surrender (to Jesus’ heart-plans for us) as the first step
    into the ONLY true safety that exists.
    all other “safeties” are illusions at best.
    dangerous illusions!
    true heart-surrender to Jesus is
    NOT giving up…
    NOT a fatalistic “whatever”…
    NOT quitting…
    instead…surrendering our hearts
    deeply & truly to Jesus means
    we launch ourselves
    knowing that our ONLY safety
    is Jesus’ Presence with us…
    everything else is less & illusory.
    He goes into the pit with us. every time.
    while it is NOT wrong to long for a safe harbor…
    what KILLS us is chasing after harbors that are never truly safe
    since the control we seek
    we will never have. ever.
    we ALL are broken…but our safety is NOT in our brokenness,
    nor even in our company with others in this…
    instead Jesus is our one safe harbor, Who accepts our broken heart,
    wraps us in His arms, whispers words of power & encouragement
    to us…helping us to see the true friends He has placed all around us.
    this “Jesus-level safety” is so deep
    that for centuries, women & men have
    died in fire,
    been beaten & brutalized by mobs,
    and even wasted away alone…
    all this, while singing praise to the One God, Who
    Himself is their safe harbor.
    i have been SO privileged to have lived so long in the company
    of three VERY courageous women:
    you, your mom & your sister…wow…
    lucky me…all my love,

  18. says

    Oh Sarah, today I decided to be brave and begin to tell my story, the one I didn’t want anyone to know about, and I have a feeling you know what this fear feels like. I’m trusting that God will use my voice to encourage others and perhaps make them a little braver, too.


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