I have never jumped off a diving board. EVER. I took swimming lessons as a child, but I was not a big fan of swimming in the deep end at all. At some point in time, I heard a story about a kid who jumped off a diving board, landed the wrong way, and broke his neck. That pretty much sealed the deal for me.
I am…risk averse. If I have time to weigh and measure the odds, I will do so. If not, I will lean towards the safe route, the path that requires the least amount of risk. For me to write about courage is not natural. I have done some things that take courage. I left home at age 17 to attend college 6 hours away. Most of my extended family still lived in Des Moines. I tried out for a popular ministry team that took only 12 members (a number of whom were returning). Last week, I wrote about how I moved to a small town where I knew three people. I have led worship for hundreds of people, spoken in public enough to overcome my fear of it, and have continued to do those things even after some intense failure at doing so. I think it takes more courage to stand up after falling down and to try again.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” It defines brave as “having or showing courage,” so I will use these words interchangeably.
I have so many friends who have exhibited enormous levels of courage through their life circumstances. I previously wrote about my friend Maggie who faced breast cancer with such peace and joy and now lives with Jesus. Another friend survived breast cancer and gave birth to a precious boy despite all the odds against her. Two very dear friends have experienced the deepest pain and betrayal in marriage and emerged on the other side with the story of God’s great grace.
I can go on and on. The pain of this life has at times completely taken my breath away. How do I find the courage to get out of bed in the morning, to live life and continue to function, to find ways to deal with the pain so it is no longer debilitating? How do you? You have certainly faced danger, fear, or difficulty. How did you move on from it? DID you move on from it? Are you still stuck in the fear, slave to the difficulty that you cannot get out of your mind? What situation has so captured your mind that you cannot see through the mess?
You are not alone. It takes great courage to face the difficulty and decide that it will not rule your life. Maybe your difficulty right now is not cancer or death or betrayal. Maybe your difficulty is deep loneliness. Your difficulty could be a loveless, lifeless marriage. These may not be obvious to others on the surface, but it requires great courage to face loneliness and rise above it. It takes incredible courage to be the wife or husband who chooses to invest and inject life into a marriage that feels like it is dead.
I will spend the next few posts on the subject of courage. I can think of a couple of areas in my life in which I need more courage. I need to make the choice to be present, to enter in and face the situation instead of hiding behind a phone or a book or a computer screen. I would love for you to join me if you need a little courage, too. Or even a lot.
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2 Corinthians 4:6-9 (ESV) “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him.”