Bravery is often misunderstood as the absence of fear.
In reality, bravery only arises in the presence of it. If there is nothing to be afraid of, then there’s no need for bravery. Fortunately, for those of us who value bravery within others and within ourselves, the human condition insures that fear is in no short supply. Moriah Peters is all too aware of this in her own life.
“I realized that I’m a very fearful person,” she says. “I’ve struggled with anxiety; and, for a while, I was afraid of love and marriage, wondering if I’d be good enough as a wife. I even questioned if I was comfortable with the word marriage. Over time, though, I came to grips that I was afraid for all the wrong reasons. I asked God, ‘Ok, God, if this is fear of man and not fear of You, help me overcome this.’”
Suffice it to say, He delivered.
Moriah recently celebrated her one-year wedding anniversary to Joel Smallbone, half of brother duo, for King & Country.
“Marriage has been a pretty seamless transition,” she says. ”When we were dating, we were long-distance and traveling a bit. We’re still traveling a lot; but we have little rules in place like we can’t go longer than two weeks without seeing each other and when we are together, we use an old-school clock instead of our phones so that we’re not distracted from each other.”
Strengthened by intentionality, their marriage has already proven its stability in the face of very real adversity.
“Last year in August, the day before I was starting the Restart tour with the newsboys, I got really sick. My white blood count got so low, they thought I might have leukemia,” she shares. “I had no energy and, in those moments, nothing but my thoughts. My weakness allowed me to say ‘God, I’m not strong enough. Help me think thoughts that are pure and lovely and to think the best of others.’ That time in the hospital was a test for me to do that.”
Eventually diagnosed with SSV, an inconclusive moniker that stands for Some Sort of Virus, Moriah is forthright about the spiritual toll the experience exacted.
“I was attacked spiritually as much as I was physically. There were visions of demons, and it was awful,” she says. “It was my first encounter with the dark side of the spiritual world. We’re so in the moment and lost in the physical world, we forget that there’s a spiritual realm.“
With darkness manifesting before her eyes, the shadows were pushed away, in large part, by the caring hand of her loving husband. “It definitely strengthened my marriage,” she says. “I think that’s why God wants us in relationships that are equal. When push comes to shove, you’d better hope and pray that your partner can be there for you.”
The hospital stay turned out to be indicative of the entire creative process for the record. From day one, nothing came easy. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, Brave soon turned out to be much more than a title—it was a survival skill.
“Every moment was a battle,” Moriah says. “It took a lot of heart, a lot of hard conversations, a lot of disagreements and a lot of conflict. It was all healthy; and in the end, I realize that there were battles lost and won here and there, but, overall, the war was won.”
Those battles began in one of the last places one would expect—a charming cabin in the woods, full of all the ingredients that stir creativity. Hardly an obvious battleground.
“I was at this beautiful cabin with my guitar, poetry, Pro Tools; and at the end of the third day, I had nothing more than when I started. That’s when the word brave came to mind. I clung to it. I spent the next few days doing a ton of research on the word and dove into what it really meant.”
Armed with a solid idea, the creative juices began to flow; and, before long, Moriah was boasting a cadre of songs rife with meaning and blanketed in prayer. When she and her band took these songs out of the studio and onto the road, a few began to stand out.
“’Stand Strong’ is one that we play any chance we can,” she says, “partially because it’s such an encouraging song. It’s based on the Scripture, ‘blessed are those who are persecuted.’ All of us experience trials. No one lives a perfectly easy life. It’s so wonderful to have that promise to hold on to. Whenever there’s something difficult with our jobs or health, we can endure it with the strength and knowledge that God is going to bring us through to the other side. We will be stronger and better for it. It’s not exclusive to people who are persecuted for their faith. Whatever your personal work or mission, the enemy will try and stop that. We’re promised to have those kinds of struggles. But God has never left our side.”
Moriah’s confidence in the strength of God’s presence is channeled through another song, “Oh Fear.”
“This is my letter to the devil, so to speak,” she says. “I speak very directly to fear. You paralyze me/shut my eyes/you are a prison. These are all the things that fear has been for me. But then there’s the other part: Oh fear, you will never keep me here. A lot of people struggle with fear; but we have a way to fight back and to say, ‘Enemy, you won’t have control over my mind. I don’t have to be afraid of you.’”
As with most things, Moriah is taking the sentiment of her album to another level via a website she started called youarebrave.com. There, people can share their stories, receive encouragement, celebrate victories and simply find a community.
“It’s amazing to share people’s stories,” Moriah says. “I’m the most encouraged when I read and hear about other stories of triumph. I wanted to share that with other people.”
To say the least, encouragement abounds when one is around Moriah. Her stories of struggle and victory are inspiring enough, but add to that a young woman blessed with wisdom well beyond her years and the capacity to share it in a way that can change lives.
“We are emotional beings,” she says. “Fear is emotional and can be paralyzing, and it’s become socially acceptable. But Joshua 1:9 says that He has commanded us not to be afraid. He wants us to trust and have joy and be an example of peace. The way to fight fear is with Scripture—the Word of God. It sounds too practical to be true, but it’s the most functional thing I’ve been able to exercise. Repeat those Scriptures; do not be afraid. He will strengthen you.”
Throughout her journey through singleness, marriage, music, illness and more, Moriah has never been disillusioned or donned rose-colored glasses. She’s not naive. Rather, she is endowed with the gifts of discernment, patience and the determination to see things to the end. No one lives a life without fear. However, no one who lives a life hand-in-hand with the Savior and Conqueror will ever be overcome.
To be brave isn’t to avoid life’s hardships. To be brave is to look them straight on with a prayerful heart and with the confidence in the One who’s already won the fight.