Character is something that says a lot about somebody. A man is only as good as his word. These words are spoken frequently and one attribute that tells a lot about a man, or woman’s, character is courage. We hear about courage all the time. The news feeds us stories about sacrifice and people’s bravery all the time. It is an act of endearment. Courage, however, does not have to be a big great act, or even a physical act. Your courage can span from physical strength to endurance to mental stamina, and even innovation according to an article in by Dr. Melanie Greenberg in Psychology Today. She claims that we can define courage in six ways. I will tell you about three of them in today’s post and the rest in the next.
The first way that you can define courage is by feeling fear yet choosing to act. There is a proverb that says “Fear and courage are brothers.” This is true, our fear pushes us to have courage, as long as we don’t let it overwhelm us. Nelson Mandela put it very eloquently when he said “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers fear.” Everyone experiences fear, you must move through it, overcome it. Prayer, meditation, seeking out words from another, or therapy are all ways to courageously overcome fear.
Second, you must follow your heart. “A dream is a wish your heart makes.” Jiminy Cricket sings at the beginning of Walt Disney’s Pinocchio. Words that are many times dismissed as fairy tales for children. They are not though. If you want something or have a dream to do it. Be courageous and let the naysayers say their nays. You do what is right for you. Soren Kierkegaard said “To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.” So, do you, live your dreams and be courageous. At a commencement speech that Steve Jobs gave back in 2005, he said “And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” I feel, God is always there trying to show us the way we should go. He knows what is best. Listen courageously for his words and clues to guide you.
Lastly today, persevering in the face of adversity. This is the one defining way we hear often. The young man who overcomes his setbacks and adversity to become something great. The woman who overcomes gender inequality to push through the glass ceiling and rise above it all, courageously. Courage is there inside of all of us bursting to come out. When the odds are stacked against you it is that glimmer of light that is pushing, ebbing you on. It is the small, quiet voice of God telling you to keep going. Ralph Waldo Emerson stated, “A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.” There is another quote that I believe everyone has heard at least once in their life and it says it all. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog,” Mark Twain. Finding courage when we feel all is lost is hard. Knowing that no matter what it is there, we just have to bring it out, is another thing. Keeping your heart and mind open to God can help you find courage.