We don’t get very far in the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah before we read:
“They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to become pregnant and they both were very old.”
– Luke 1:7
How’s that for the start to your biography? The reality is, many of us have formed our impressions of Elizabeth on that one verse. She was old and didn’t have kids. But, we also know there’s much more to her story.
And that’s where courage comes in.
What we uncovered about Elizabeth’s courage might surprise you. It certainly did us.
As we’ve shared, courage is a set of four teachable, observable, and measurable skills made up of rumbling with vulnerability, living into her values, BRAVING trust, and learning to rise.
Here are 5 ways Elizabeth is courageous.
1) Elizabeth has the courage to confront shame and disappointment.
2) She comes to a place where her courage is expressed in joy.
3) Elizabeth embodied courage by claiming her role.
4) She named what she needed.
5) Elizabeth navigates the messy middle and learns to rise.
Expectations that Lead to Shame
As you listen to the podcast, explore how the cultural expectations for Zechariah and Elizabeth meant they were shamed most of their adult lives. It’s still happening for some people today. So, while shame isn’t something we talk about during Advent, it might need to be.
Here’s why: there are people in your family who are experiencing what Elizabeth endured. You have friends who are enduring the “disgrace” of unemployment, failed marriages, bankruptcy, debt, infertility, and depression…just to name a few.
Read this clearly: NONE of those circumstances (and many more) are reasons for shame. But our cultural expectations often leave people feeling shamed because they’re trying to navigate difficult circumstances.
If you want to give the gift of courage this Christmas, listen to this episode. Then, reflect on how you can be a person of courage who creates space for it to be ok when things are not ok.
There is Good News!
Mary and Elizabeth are both referenced in terms of disgrace. Both need empathy to step into being the courageous people God created them to be.
Could it be that the only thing that removes disgrace is grace? Jesus is grace. Everything changed when grace, Jesus, entered the world.
That’s the gift the characters of Christmas are reminding us of this week. May you feel brave and afraid at exactly the same time. And as a result, may you feel very, very alive. Then you’ll have the courage to embody the grace Jesus ushered into the world that we celebrate this season.
May the love of God we know in Jesus remind you that no one is a disgrace. But, that you loved by God and by god’s grace, may you experience the joy of love and belonging. May you feel brave, afraid, and very, very alive this advent.
Mentioned in this Episode
Sign-up for Dare to Lead: Creating a Culture of Courage
Register your interest in “It Takes Courage” a four-week study of courage and scripture.
Download the Advent Bible Reading Plan: The Characters of Christmas
Dare to Lead Workshop
This January, we’ll begin hosting workshops to help you learn the skills we’re exploring in the podcast. Register your interest below.
Learn more about what we’ll cover in January and register to attend.