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Any pastor knows that you cannot let the minute details of a story get in the way of a good lesson (which is also why pastors are known for using the “fish story” strategy when offering their real-life parables).

So, it’s important to add here that many names and events have been factually altered to streamline the lessons, to combine stories, and to honor the privacy of individuals—as well as to leave a little room for the fish story. (And both in the stories and in the fish-additions, I have sought to keep integrity about sharing stories that are not mine, leaving out those that are also not mine to tell. I hope in respect to others’ stories that I got it right.)

Finally, a warning. If you’re having trouble following the flow and multiple options and themes and word choices, reading this book may be a bit of a meandering ride. (Meandering is actually part of the Ann Code.) I tend to wander off a bit. It’s how my brain is wired. At times, it feels like fireworks exploding, firing hundreds of little bits of colorful lights into the sky. I get sidetracked easily, but I’ve discovered that’s often when the adventure is the most exciting, and when having anchors can be very helpful.

Over time, I’ve practiced living out these principles so often, and in so many settings, they feel as natural to me as breathing. It’s like learning any new skill: In the beginning it’s hard and requires conscious attention. Sometimes it feels awkward and difficult, and often I forget or make mistakes. With time, attention, and practice, though, it becomes part of my life. And then, just when I think I’ve really got it, I see new ways I haven’t been fully living out those values and the process continues.

Finally, a thank you. One of the anchors that’s been a lifeline for me is the idea that everything is fixable. And because of my mind/body wandering and trying to stay on track, I fixed this problem of writing a book by working with a kick-ass coauthor, Marty. I wrote the book via Facebook-like posts and texts and Marty became the organizing principle. Our fix created a new, exciting way to co-write a book. Which leads me to the first chapter: “Work with What You’ve Got.”


During the Sundays of Lent, we will be running excerpts from Ann Kansfield’s Be the Brave One.

Reprinted with permission from Be the Brave One: Living Your Spiritual Values Out Loud and Other Life Lessons by Ann Kansfield copyright © 2021 Broadleaf Books. 

Ann Kansfield

Ann Kansfield was voted the inauguralNew York TimesNew Yorker of the Year and is the first female and openly gay FDNY chaplain. A graduate of Columbia University, Kansfield followed the Ivy League crowd to Wall Street until 9/11 happened and she realized she wanted more from life. In addition to her FDNY chaplaincy, she serves as co-pastor of the Greenpoint Reformed Church in Brooklyn, New York, with her wife, Rev. Jennifer Aull. 

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