Have you ever thought about being courageous? My definition of courage used be quite narrow: the brave actions of a solder on the battlefield or a superhero who saves the universe.
Recently, though, I saw courage in my home town. A man put himself in harm’s way to rescue someone who had fallen out of his wheelchair and onto the subway track. The rescuer did not know when the next commuter train would zoom into the station but he saw the wheelchair tip.
I also saw courage in my friend who is undergoing cancer treatment. She courageously returned to the clinic for another round of radiation. Each week she re-enters the cycle of her body struggling to absorb and to fight and then to feel okay again.
That is courage. It’s the everyday courage that emerges when situations demand. It makes me redefine courage.
Literal battlefields are not a prerequisite. Life presents battlefield-like conditions with each passing day.
Courage doesn’t always roar. “Sometimes courage is the silent voice at the end of the day that says ‘I will try again tomorrow’.” (Mary Anne Radmacher)
Courage requires being alert. It’s living outside personal wants and needs to be aware of the hurts of others.
Courage is bold. It is willing to risk embarrassment, injury, or even shame to do the right thing.
To be a follower of Christ is to be a person of courage. It’s a critical component to growing in faith. Every day brings new spiritual battles (Ephesians 6:12). We arise each morning with the desire to make a difference in someone’s life. We hope to be sensitive to the needs around us. Then, we yearn to be bold enough to respond when revelations of injustice, pain, and loss cross our path.
Being courageous, however, is difficult and uncomfortable. Risks mount in relationships with family, encounters with strangers, and wrestlings with personal issues. When confronting the storms, we look to God. Jesus told the disciples, “Take courage. It is I. Do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27)
Jesus echoed the words written dozens of times throughout the Old Testament. We, too, can take comfort in his presence. This sounds church-y but we can know that the Lord mercifully grants wisdom, guidance, and the peace that passes all understanding.
How to Build Courage
Faith. We are courageous through the gift of faith. (Psalm 46:1-3) When we place our trust in God, we will more freely step into situations of risk and discomfort.
Name your fears. We all have them. Courage is not the absence of fear, but moving ahead despite fear. For if there is no fear, who needs courage? (Stephen A. Diamond, Ph.D) Do any of these put a name to a fear you may experience: Failure. FOMO. Perfectionism. Criticism. Change. The future. Pain. Being alone.
Throughout the coming week, evaluate your response to situations that prevent you from moving forward. Figure out what you are afraid of and face them. When we avoid them, we allow the fears to control us.
Take small steps. After naming your greatest fear, courageously finish this sentence: One step I can take to address this concern is… Courage is moving forward, one step at a time. Courage manifests differently: share the gospel with a neighbor, resolve a personal feud, enroll in college, change jobs.
Pray. Ask God to grow you and to help you to increase your faith.
Posted by Sharon R Hoover