All my life I’ve wanted to feel courageous. I’ve watched those I admire as they courageously charged through life seemingly without fear.
When I was in an unhappy marriage, feeling fearful with the anticipation of my then husband having too much to drink and unleashing his anger at me, I prayed for courage. Each time I had to take the kids out for ice cream on a Sunday evening because he had gone a bit too far, I dreamt of a day when I had courage. And when he died and I was left to raise my two young kids alone, I was desperate for some courage.
Some people think that courage has to come in a big, bold package that’s unmistakable, very recognizable according to the standards set by…well who exactly? What is a good example of courage anyway? Someone who dies for their beliefs, yes, that’s courageous. Someone who jumps out of an airplane, ok, that takes courage. Someone who is dealing with a life threatening disease, that is definitely an example of courage. But me? Raising two kids on my own? Living a very lonely life without someone to walk the path with, to check in with on discipline, bedtimes, proper diet, day care, all the things that are a part of being a parent? I didn’t see any courage in that because I was always feeling afraid – of making the wrong decisions, of being a bad mother, of having to be the bad guy ALL of the time, of something happening that was beyond my ability to cope.
And yet, I made it through. I managed, in all my anxiety and fear, to raise two lovely, caring human beings. And you know, I feel like I didn’t really have a lot to do with it. I mean, yes, I was there, I provided the support, love, advice, and discipline when needed (and by the way, sometimes in a not very nice way!) but I’m not responsible for who they are really, no matter how hard it was. They are each their own person and I’m happy to have had the opportunity to bear witness to their unfolding lives.
Even with all of that, I still didn’t see myself as a person with courage. Then the other day, I started looking at that belief I have about myself. I reviewed all the situations and events of my life and how I managed to not only get through them, but come out the other side in a fairly decent state of emotional, physical and spiritual health.
It was at the end of this little impromptu review that it hit me. I couldn’t have accomplished all I had accomplished without courage. I hadn’t seen it in myself because I was comparing myself to others who have displayed their courage in HUGE, life changing ways. I didn’t recognize until that moment that courage isn’t always big, bold and hard to miss. Sometimes courage is that quiet strength that is just present within you whenever you need it. And that’s the kind of courage I had. In that moment of discovery, and even as I write this now, I had a few tears. Tears for the young woman who kept on going, who didn’t give up, or be the victim, the one who didn’t expect the world to come to her rescue, who taught her kids to be self-reliant and responsible. And tears for the part of me that didn’t give her credit for the past 35 years for having vast amounts of courage that was the fuel that kept her going through good and bad times.
So if you think that you don’t have courage, think again. I bet there are a lot of ways in which you have drawn up from the well of courage and got yourself through some tough situations. Give yourself credit for that and know that you don’t have to go looking for courage, just know it is there ready for you when you need it.
With love and kindness