Courage is recognized in its action, not exposition. Words cannot capture what it means to be courageous. One must experience courage to fully understand.
The courage needed to press forward into enemy territory facing machine gun nests ripping and tearing fellow soldiers apart in an agonizing and grotesque cacophony of terror has a different feeling and depth yet shares similar aspects to the courage needed of a father facing the dreadful agony and suffering of losing and burying his only child after a tragic accident. What are the differences? Who can answer?
If you were to ask a thousand people what courage means to them, it is likely you will receive a thousand different responses. Courage on the battlefield has a different feeling than courage in the face of suffering, or perhaps courage needed to speak in public. Is it that the amount of fear experienced by someone determines the quality and depth of courage needed and required in that moment of time?
Wikipedia defines courage as, “The choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty or intimidation.” Dictionary.com defines it as, “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.”
Having courage does not mean one has no fear. Courage is not the absence of fear. One might be extremely fearful yet somehow steps into courage to accomplish the task or rise up to the challenge and overcome anyways. Soldiers in battle have said that courage didn’t show up until after the battle was fought. That it took real courage just to step back onto the battlefield to face the horrors of war again and again.
Nelson Mandela 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 that fear.”
Never overcoming fear is decay not growth. Avoiding challenges and shrinking from fear will keep one on a very narrow path of average mediocrity. It is the journey and action of taking risks, making commitments and the motion and movement of following through when we have gut wrenching fear that broadens our path and increases and expands our growth. Out of this movement, opportunities are seemingly born.
Stepping into courage, one better recognizes these opportunities – they seem to arise from nowhere. Actually those same opportunities existed prior to the action of stepping into courage; however, when we are stagnant and frozen living in fear, it is as though we are blinded to the possibilities and the potential for a better quality of life.
You are not alone in this – our battle to live in courage. The more we choose to live from courage, the more we will draw others into our space who are living in courage.
Living a courageous life produces great benefits, the kind of benefits that bring a deeper level of satisfaction and fulfillment.
A great line in the movie, WE BOUGHT A ZOO, seems to sum it up well. “You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”