Today let’s reflect on courage. We’ll begin with this definition: Courage is the mental or moral strength to withstand or endure despite danger, pain, difficulty, or fear. If that’s our working definition, then how would you answer this question: What’s the most courageous thing you ever did? Don’t sell yourself short. You can’t be an adult without having made some decisions along the way that took real courage!
Let me suggest a few possible answers to that question. You might say: I got married… There’s certainly a lot of risk and involved in making a life-long commitment to someone—not to mention trying to live out that commitment. Or maybe your answer is: I got divorced… Talk about pain and difficulty! As we can see, courage is not a simple thing. What looks like courage could actually be a cowardly thing to do—depending on the circumstances. And what looks cowardly could really be the courageous thing to do.
Here are a few other answers to the question: What’s the most courageous thing you ever did? I had children… (As we’ve just celebrated Father’s Day, I marvel at the courage it takes to bring children into the world and raise those children with unconditional love and lots of hard work! On Father’s Day, I went to 8:00 Mass at St. Mary’s in Chardon. Fr. Steve asked all the fathers to stand while he read a beautiful prayer for fathers. I must admit, as I looked at all those fathers [all ages, shapes, and heights] I was really inspired!) Or we might say things like these: I accepted that job… I quit that job… I chose chemo… I declined chemo… I said I was sorry… I forgave him (her)… On the school playground years ago, I defended the kid everyone was making fun of… I entered into a relationship… I ended a relationship… I joined AA… I accepted a particular limitation I have… I told the truth—and it had serious consequences for me… I made the decision to pray every day… I got involved in an issue I felt passionate about… I changed my mind… I accepted growing older… I got out of bed that day when all I wanted to do was to hide under the covers forever… I handed my life over to God. Again. And then again.
Courage is not always a showy thing. Writer Mary Anne Radmacher said, “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.'” Courage doesn’t always do the talking either. Someone once wrote, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” I also appreciate Sue Monk Kidd’s words about courage: “The opposite of courage isn’t only fear but security.” And finally, sometimes courage can be on opposite sides of an issue. As John Kerry said, “I saw courage both in the Vietnam War and in the struggle to stop it.”
Now it’s your turn to reflect on courage. These questions might help:
What are some of the most courageous things you’ve done in your life? Why did these things take courage?
If you were writing a book entitled Profiles in Courage, who would you put into the book—and why? (They do not have to be famous people.)
Here’s a simple song called “Take Courage” by Kristene Di Marco. My favorite line is this: “God is in the Waiting.”
Once again, I invite you to share below some of your thoughts on this reflection and/or video. Don’t be afraid. Have courage!