It all started one Sunday morning when I noticed Evelyn- one of my church’s worship leaders, wearing a key around her neck. Out of natural curiosity, I asked her what it is, why she has a word engraved on it and where I could get one. Little did I know the importance a key could have on my life. Evelyn explained to me that the necklace is from a company called “The Giving Keys“. They were founded back in 2008 by singer/ actress Caitlin Crosby. While on tour, she started selling keys with words engraved into them for people who were struggling. One day she saw a homeless couple while walking down Hollywood Boulevard, named Bob and Cera. Their sign captured Caitlin’s eye. The sign read “Ugly, Broke & Hungry”. Caitlin decided to take the couple out to dinner, where she discovered Cera makes jewelry. Caitlin had the idea to hire them to engrave the keys, instead of using a locksmith. Working with The Giving Keys allowed for Cera and Bob to save up enough money for a hotel and later an apartment of their very own. Today, The Giving Keys has provided over 70 people with jobs, transitioning them out of homelessness. TGK provides “full-time jobs at the living wage in the city of Los Angeles to people transitioning out of homelessness. With each job, we offer benefits, paid time-off for housing, education and case management appointments, and a supportive environment that cares for the whole person”.
My key is “Brave”. The story of how I acquired this key is quite remarkable. I felt as if I was out growing my first key- “trust”. After months of wearing it, I was able to fully embrace my word. I was thinking about which word I should have on my key next. I was unsure about what I would have engraved. I started praying, asking God to show me what I need to work on.
One night after leading my 7th grade youth group, I headed over to the tech booth to talk with some friends. As we were talking, two of the guy’s were conversing about how someone needs to claim The Giving Key that has been in the booth for ages. I half jokingly asked if I could have the key, expecting they would say no and we would all laugh it off. It took me off guard when Steve, aka the king of the tech booth/ man in charge (technical director), said I could have it. I noticed that the word on my new key has “Brave” engraved into it. I found myself immediately looking at my friend Kiva in amazement.
This was the perfect word. I would have never thought to choose this for myself. This was the moment I was praying about. Out of the blue God placed this key in my path and set me on a new journey.
While wearing this key, I have been reminded to not only be “brave”, but step outside of my comfort zone. I didn’t realize how intimidated I was to do things, until I had this key. I found myself saying “just be brave and do it” a lot. From starting Operation Beautiful Nation, leading a small group at BLAST (my church’s winter retreat), making new friends and going after my dreams. This necklace is a constant reminder that I have the capability to be whoever I want to be- flawed and all. The Giving Keys helps me to embrace my flaw and work on not being so hard on myself. Wearing this key around my neck on a day-to-day basis pushes me to be the best version of myself I can be.
To me, being brave does not always mean standing up to a bully or taking part in a noble cause. To me, being brave is telling someone you love them when you have no idea how they will react. Being brave is quitting your job to chase your dreams. Bravery is getting knocked down- maybe even stabbed in the back, but getting right back up again. One dictionary defines the word brave by “endur[ing] or face[ing] unpleasant conditions or behavior without showing fear.” I couldn’t disagree with the definition more. I believe that bravery is enduring or facing unpleasant conditions or behaviors AND showing fear, while proceeding to do what is right. Bravery is not about the absence or elimination of fear, rather it is about acknowledging and accepting this fear while following our hearts and standing up for what we believe to be true.
Everyday I wear the key around my neck, I am reminded of the impact I have made on someone’s life. Not only is it a reminder to be what I have engraved on my necklace, but it is a reminder of the struggles others are facing in our world, today. Every minute I wear the key, I am taking part in a mission that is far greater than myself.
Join the mission and tell me what it is you are trying to embrace.