Lisa Leonard is the founder of a multi-million-dollar jewelry company. She is also a devoted wife and mother to two sons, including a child with severe disabilities. Leonard found at a young age that pleasing other people, seemed to make them happy and perhaps love her more. She continued this journey into adulthood and she found herself trying to be the best wife, mother and business owner, but believed she was failing at all three.
On the verge of breaking, Leonard told her husband that she was desperately sad and that she needed time away from everything. She spent a few weeks alone, soul searching, journaling and grieving. She had been working so hard for so long to love and please everyone only to find herself feeling desperately sad and alone. Things had to change. She wrote a list of seven things she would stop doing – including less cooking and cancelling her gym membership – as the first steps to reclaiming her life.
Through Lisa Leonard Designs, a thriving multi-million-dollar jewelry business known for hand-stamped jewelry, Lisa has built a community around honesty and connection. Her hand-crafted jewelry represents love and hope. Each piece is personalized with names and dates and holds deep meaning for the wearer. Leonard hopes to continue to inspire and encourage women by helping them realize the depth of the love that surrounds them in her debut book, Brave Love: Making Space for You to be You.
Leonard shares in the book what brave love means to her.
“I am learning to bravely love my parents, my siblings, my friends, my coworkers-seeing each person as an individual, accepting them for who they are, with all their strengths and weaknesses. They each have their own spark. And I am learning what may be the bravest love of all – to love myself just as I am. Brave love requires looking in the mirror and, even more, into my own soul and embracing what I see. It means acknowledging all my gifts and strengths, as well as my failures and mistakes, and accepting myself, just as I am. With brave love, I can rest in the knowledge that the God of the universe loves me just as I am.”
Leonard also opens up about the intimate details of her personal life. Her oldest son David was born with Cornelia de Lange syndrome, a very rare genetic disorder that would demand constant care. When their son Matthias was born 18 months later a perfectly healthy baby, she admits the guilt she felt being relieved that her second son didn’t have a disability and fear she wouldn’t know how to love both boys well. Leonard details how the pressures of caring for David, running her business and daily striving for perfection, nearly destroyed her marriage, but explains how God slowly and patiently healed their relationship, and continues to do so to this day.
This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:17-19
Love God. Before we can love others or love ourselves, we must first love God. God wants us to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. Schedule out time to take a step back. It could be for a couple of hours, a whole day or even a weekend. Reflect on your relationship with God. Think through if there are things that are distracting you from fully pursuing your relationship with God. Pray and ask God to reveal to you how to return to your first love, your relationship with Him.
Love others. Loving others can be challenging. Whether it is our friends, family or even our enemies, each comes with its own set of difficulties and challenges. It could be something that someone said or did that cause you pain. It could be that the person has a difficult personality. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show you a person in your life that you are having a hard time loving. Ask God to show you how He views that person. Remember that God created everyone in His image, so when we have ill feelings toward someone, we are telling God we don’t like His creation. Instead, ask God to give you His heart for that person.
Love yourself. This might seem like an odd thing to do. But we often get caught up in taking care of others, that we forget to take care of ourselves. God gave each of us talents and gifts and He is most glorified when we are living and walking in those strengths. We often get energized too when we are doing those things. Sometimes, getting rest or taking a step back from activities can be a form of self-care and actually help you to be better at everything else in the long run.