I think my kids were about 10 and 13 when I suddenly decided we were going to talk courage and trouble spots and what to do if we were somewhere like the movies and suddenly someone started shooting.
“Number 1: take care of each other,” I said, aware of their big eyes before me, “You two make sure that you both get out. Find your way to the exit and run like hell as far as you can as fast as you can. Got it? Take care of each other and YOU BOTH GET OUT.”
“What about you, Mom?” one of them asked before I could get to that part.
I told them what I knew they didn’t want to hear but what they needed to hear.
“Don't worry about me,” I said slowly. “You two just make sure to take care of each other and get out.”
The older one’s eyes never left mine. “You’re going for the shooter, aren’t you, Mom?”
I sighed. “Some of us are just built that way. I’m sorry. I can’t help it. I’ll be trying to stop whoever is making the trouble.”
We never needed to have that conversation again. My kids knew me and they knew my kind of courage.
Courage Is a Funny Thing
Some of us have it in moments of physical peril, but have to learn it in moments of emotional peril. And some of us can discuss our hearts so easily but freeze when chaos rules the air and panic grips the mind.
But whatever your level or type of courage, I know this: you have more courage than you realize. WAY more. And you exhibit it every single day.
What is courage anyway? Conventional definitions tell us that courage is “mental or moral strength” but the etymology of the word reveals that it comes from the old French word “corage” meaning “heart, innermost feelings; temper.”
Ah, innermost feelings, heart, temper: we all have those things … even when we feel that we might be a little short on mental or moral strength.
When you think about it, you probably have courage every day as you move through life, working – in healthcare, public service, LEO or the military – or just working to take care of yourself and your family, surviving, caring for kids (special needs and not) or aging parents.
These things seem so commonplace to you that you don’t even realize the mental or moral strength it takes to do any of them. You just do. And don’t get me started on working out. That’s a level of heart and innermost feeling just to complete the workout – and sometimes you need a temper to get it done! (I’m looking at you, burpees.)
Courage You Didn’t Even Consider
Then there’s an entire category of acts that are emblems of courage in ways far beyond the everyday but still things our society does not always ascribe as courageous.
coming out as not heterosexual in a heterosexual society
and death, whether that is your own or loving someone all the way home in their passing
So much courage. So many folks being courageous. Again and again and again.
Unique Moments of Courage
And then there are those unique moments that we normally apply the courage label to. Things like:
saving a life
whistle-blowing to save others (often at a risk to career or personal safety)
So much courage in so many places by so many humans.
Call For Her
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that if you’re thinking courage is some dance done by other people, you’re wrong. You are far more courageous than you realize, even if you’ve never worn a uniform or risked your physical life.
And here’s the thing to remember: Courage waits for you. She’s sitting there now, somewhere deep inside you, a mental or moral strength that you have but you sometimes forget about. You think you don’t have this depth but you do. And if you’re waiting to make some change in your life because you think you don’t have the mental or moral strength? You don’t have to wait. You already have the courage inside you – you just forgot about her.
But she’s there, always, waiting. And Courage will come if you call for her.
Call. She’s going to help you do great things.