Thursday, August 2, 2012

What Is Courage?

“It must have taken a lot of courage to discover that frog legs are edible.” ~ Author Unknown.

So begins chapter seven of my novel. And it’s a true statement. Although I’ve never actually eaten frog legs. I wonder if the person who discovered this ate them raw, or cooked them over an open fire. Perhaps with some fresh fish from the same stream? Or wrapped in a bit of seaweed.

I wrote an essay once about courage. My friend Jason Zingsheim sent me an e-mail referring to something that had happened, and how it took courage. (I had gotten up in front of about a thousand students to talk about myself.) I sat at my computer thinking about what courage really is; this is what I came up with:

“Courage is feeling the pain of death while living amongst the joys of life. Courage is having an open heart and open mind when something new and unusual and painful and unknown comes into your life and takes over your thoughts. Courage is accepting that some friendships will never be, and some will tragically end.

“Courage is having the faith to step out on nothing and land on something. Courage is being a friend to the one person everyone else has given up on.

“Courage is admitting that you love someone when they could never love you back. Courage is being a friend to the friendless, a shelter to the homeless, strength for the weak, and rest for the weary. Courage is living as close to Christ-likeness as humanly possible.

“Courage is that quality I admire so much in people like Elizabeth, Sarah, and Chuck – who have changed my life in such simple, and yet so profound and lasting ways. Courage is that quality I admire in people like Destiny, Scott, and Jack – who can never know how much they’ve touched my life because it would make them too uncomfortable, and present them with vulnerability they aren’t ready for. Courage is loving God when He makes you so angry you can’t even scream, but have to remain in the most painful silence man can endure. Courage is seeing everyone for who they really are, not who they try so hard to be, and loving them more because of it.

“Courage is not something I possess, but something I long for when life is going well, and desperately cling to in others and God when life is going terribly wrong. Courage is what I see in the eyes of a friend when I force myself to look at them, and courage is what makes me cry every time I do.

“Courage is what brings someone to give their life for another without a second thought. Courage is really close to love, and without it, love would not exist. Sharing myself with others is not courage. It’s being vulnerable, sometimes stupid, unsheltered, naïve. It’s taking a chance the rest of the world says shouldn’t be taken, believing I have nothing to lose. Nothing, it turns out, but friendships that once could have been and now never will be.”

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