Courage can take many forms. This weekend I watched 127 Hours, the true story of a man who cut off his own arm in order to get out from under a rock in a canyon where he would have starved to death. We all know the story of Joan of Arc, a peasant girl who led the French army to many important victories in the Hundred Years’ War. And there’s the courage of countless men and women in the military who risk their lives for our country. These are all amazing heroes and heroines.
But what about every day courage. What about the courage to strike up a conversation with a stranger? The courage to give up your career to stay home with your children? The courage to be generous to those who have more need than you, or the courage to risk sharing your true self with people?
All of these things are hard. Hurts from our past, broken relationships, and our insecurities make the fear of rejection feel almost insurmountable at times. But I think we find that if we risk our hearts in these ways, we will also increase our ability to receive love. We may suffer rejection a few times, but we may have the peace to know that we offered something real, and the confidence to look at someone’s reaction and think about what part of their reaction is theirs and what part is ours. In putting ourselves out there we learn more about who we are, and there is powerful peace in accepting the person we were created to be.
It is heroic to risk one’s life (as in the examples above, or as Amelia did for her flying), but it is also heroic to risk one’s heart. My heroes are the women I meet with in my office who to dare to share their hurt and shame with me, the couples at our marriage retreat who shared vulnerably about their marriage and lives in front of a group of strangers, the man and woman who shared from their hearts at our singles conference, the women in my process groups who risk growing close to one another, and my close friends who trust me enough to share their struggles and hopes in this life.
Sharing your true self with people may be the most courageous thing you ever do, but it’s so worth it.