Courageous people almost never feel that they are courageous. It’s one of the oddities of human experience. We can all probably identify people in our lives whom we consider to be courageous. We know what they have been up against. We have watched them dare to walk into the darkness of their trials for themselves or on behalf of others. We have seen them come out the other side, maybe scarred, maybe shaken, but there they are! Some of the most courageous people around are young parents. They have very little idea of what they are doing, and they keep trying anyway. What they feel for their child compels them just a little more than their fear of failing.
The fact is, most courageous people feel fear and foreboding and question whether they can do what needs to be done when they face some struggle.
And they move into that struggle anyway.
How do they do that? Better: how do we do that? Courageous people are not those who do great things because they feel courageous, because they are fearless, because they are totally confident. They do have something, though. Courageous people are able to act courageously because they have found something inside of them that compels them just a little more than the struggle frightens them. The compelling thing could be called a number of things: meaning, principle, justice, ethics, righteousness, compassion, or love. Armed with one of those things in their heart, they wade into the struggle even while feeling fear, foreboding and not confident enough.
I don’t believe there is any shame in not being courageous. We have to pay attention to what is happening around us and within us and make our decisions. I cannot second guess how another makes that decision. But when we do that–when we tune into our hearts and hear that thing which compels us just enough–we will move into the struggle. Someone will see us and say: look at that courage!