Saturday, March 24, 2018

Courage...Do You Have It?

by Sylvia Gaston

Courage is something everyone wants. It’s a trait that people admire and garners respect. Courage grows our confidence and inspires others.

The dictionary defines courage as: the ability to do something that frightens and strength in the face of pain or grief.

Have you done something even though you were frightened? Sure you have. From the time we were small kids, we were often afraid as we learned how to navigate school and relationships and life. As we got older, our fears change somewhat. Though lists of top fears vary slightly, here is one that is pretty common.

      1.     Flying
      2.     Public speaking
      3.     Heights
      4.     The dark
      5.     Intimacy
      6.     Death
      7.     Failure
      8.     Rejection
      9.     Spiders
    10.     Commitment

Fears fall into 2 categories – specific phobias and social phobias. The “specific” ones are most common and usually focus on simple objects such as spiders, flying, or heights. “Social” phobias are those that cause extreme anxiety in social or public situations such as public speaking, rejection, or commitment.

I’m sure that the specifics of our lives and past experiences come into play, as well. Do you work in a dangerous environment? Do you have children? Is your future uncertain? Do you have health issues?

Let’s take a look at the second part of the definition of courage. Have you remained strong in pain or grief? I’m sure we all have, to some degree. We have all experienced pain, loss, or crisis of some sort. Did you come apart at the seams or remain strong?

My fears, at this stage of life, tend to revolve around my children’s safety and decision-making and the health of those I care about.

God has a lot to say about fear and courage. I could recite tens of them here, but you have a computer – just Google it. But, let me share my favorite…

Six years ago, in the midst of a personal crisis, I relied on a verse I found in the Bible in Isaiah 41:13 that says,

“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you Do not fear; I will help you.”

I wrote that verse on a 3X5 card and taped it to my refrigerator. It stayed there for months. I wanted to see it often and I knew others in my household needed to see it, too. It was a reminder to us that, because we follow Jesus, God will never leave us. He will strengthen us (give us courage) to endure whatever life throws our way.

That little 3X5 card is still around. It resides on the inside of my spice cabinet. I’ve relied on those words when my sister was dying, when one of my kids’ messed up, when my husband was very sick, and when my daughters took their first out-of-town road trips.

You see, I’m a pretty strong person. I can be extremely tough when the going gets tough. But we all have our limits or breaking points – emotional ones and physical ones. It’s easy to become overwhelmed. How do you find strength when you feel you can’t go on? How do you find courage when you are afraid?

I have learned to rely on someone with all the resources, power and authority to move heaven and earth, as He sees fit. Of course, I always hope God sees fit to move heaven and earth for me, but the outcome is not always what I want. It doesn’t matter. He’s still there to pick me up, to love me, and to see me through the incredible challenges of life hear on earth.

As I get older, and wiser, I use this reliance on God to help me even when I’m not in the middle of a mess. I have fewer worries, headaches, and stress when I just do my part and leave the rest to Him. Because, really, who am I kidding? I may be a tough chick but God is soooo much smarter, and more capable, than I am.

So I say to you…“Be strong in the Lord and in His might power.” –Ephesians 6:10

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