May 14, 2013

courage...and choices

I have been considering courage often these days. It has come up in my writing, my conversations, my thoughts, and my prayers. 

When I was young I thought courage was big, like the strong fireman who breaks down the door of a burning building and saves the cowering, coughing child. Or the soldier who storms across enemy lines to rescue a dusty, longhaired prisoner of war.   But the older I get and the more I know, the more I am beginning to understand that courage is vast and varied.

Courage is not only manifested in major moments. Sometimes it is quieter. Sometimes it is a series of small moments or choices that brand the brave. Sometimes it is not big or flashy at all.  Sometimes courage is exhibited in people who simply do the right thing. People who do the ordinary with great character. Some of the bravest people simply do what they need to do and never consider anything special or unique about it. Courage is all around us, yet because bravery and bravado are not the same thing, it often goes unseen, or seen but unrecognized. 

Being afraid does nothing to minimize courage. In fact, moving forward in spite of the fear you feel might be the bravest act of all. Courage is not reserved for special people, or special circumstances.  Courage calls each of us, right now, today, to do the next right thing whether seen or unseen.

What does courage look like for you? Where are you being called higher?

The theme of my week is steadiness.  

Maybe some of you are craving it too? Life gets painful sometimes.

When everything is moving and shifting, the only way to counteract chaos is stillness. When things feel extraordinary, strive for ordinary. When the surface is wavy, dive deeper for quieter waters. When the storm swirls, seek shelter. Oppose crumbling with comfort. When you don’t know what to do, return to the basics.
Normal is what you make it.  I am not in training mode. I am not in sprint mode, not focused on the finish line. I’m more in self-preservation mode. Not thinking about the miles ahead, only on the mile of the moment. I am pacing myself, nourishing myself, and checking in periodically to ensure I am steady as I go. I don’t want to feel better, stronger, more at peace “when…” I want to feel it now, for all the miles in between. The funny thing is that it is actually a choice. We tend to forget that, or at least I’m prone to anyway. 

The unplanned. The unimaginable. The sucker punches thrown, when we don’t even get a breath to squeeze and brace for it. How do we go on with the routine of life? How do we muster the courage to love deeply when love can cause so much pain? How do we best share our strength to ease another’s burden?

We can never prepare for sucker punches. No, we will never be ready when a left hook jabs us out of nowhere and renders us windless and reeling. But we can make a deliberate decision to get stronger. We can choose the challenging route. We can choose friends who call us higher, the right ones to have by our side who support integrity. We can surround ourselves with growth minded people, seekers, try-ers. We can choose to nurture and nourish our spirits. We can fix our minds on worthy thoughts and pursuits. We can take steps in the direction of fortitude, even before we are called to endure. 

I’m choosing peace, and once chosen, it’s decided.

1 comment:

Patrick Barry said...

Courage isn't lack of fear and it's not hunting your demons recklessly. It's facing them down with a spear and shield and glowering face.