This article is part of a five-part series on High Noon’s values:
Contributed by Andrew Love
Courage is often very one dimensionally understood.
Courage is depicted in movies as some big strong person standing up to an evil dragon and slaying it, so that the kingdom they’re from can be free.
Courage is seen as a bold gesture, by somebody acting powerfully and concisely. It is because of such films and imagery of heroes saving us that subconsciously we tend to reserve courage for certain special occasions.
But what does that have to do with our daily lives?
With this type of black-and-white perspective of courage, our lives appear mundane and insignificant and all heroism is outsourced to someone outside of us.
What if we were to look at courage as a muscle that is either developed or atrophied?
Wouldn’t that make it more attainable? By virtue of that line of thought, we remove courage from the realm of something one ‘Is’ to something one ‘Has’. This automatically causes courage to be more accessible and inclusive to anyone.
If we were to compare fitness to courage, then it would mean that you aren’t born fit or unfit, but rather you participate in fitness or not. As we all know, fitness isn’t some outlandish act of strength once a year, but rather an aggregation of many small choices. Did you eat the right foods, did you do your daily exercise, did you stretch, etc. These minute-by-minute decisions add up to a life of health or otherwise.
So let’s then follow that same logic for courage: it is a lifestyle rather than a periodical act of strength.
Because even if and when opportunities for courageous acts knock on our door, it’s all of the many small acts of courage that lead us to seize the opportunity or to shy away from confrontation.
Our day-to-day courage adds up to a life of courage. Conversely, constant acts of avoidance lead to the habits and lifestyle of avoidance.
Consider the many small moments throughout your day that can be seen either as trials or as opportunities to exercise our muscle of courage. It depends on your commitment to courage.
For instance, when we see somebody asking for money in the streets, the typical reaction is to ignore the person. We don’t know how to handle witnessing another human being suffering in front of our eyes. We may give them money or we may justify not giving them money. But the more people we see asking for money, the less we feel able to acknowledge them.
What would an act of courage be in that situation?
In general, even the simple act of making eye contact with strangers is something that we shy away from. This is precisely why present day humans are flocking to their cell phones in social environments such as public transportation, elevators, and even restaurants if they’re left alone for a few solitary minutes. We would rather avoid making eye contact with real people and plug into something familiar, something that we can control, like our phones.
It is the small acts of courage that really define our character and ultimately define our destiny. When we act in line with our clearly expressed commitments to certain behaviors, virtues, and goals our destination becomes crystallized. When our destination is clear, the stage is set and the rules are created. Sports aren’t nearly as fun without rules- try to play tennis with a little kid and you’ll understand this point. When you really desire something, there will be some barriers to either attaining that thing or to keeping it.
Those are the stakes.
When your resolve is being challenged, you will discover how much you really care about your goals. If you are absolute in your desires, it will only be continuous acts of valor that will keep you moving forward.
With sexual integrity, courage is deciding how you want to live in the area of sexuality and to do whatever it takes in order to live up to that standard.
It takes courage to admit that you have questions about sexuality.
It takes courage to clearly express the way in which you would like to live in regards to sexuality.
It takes courage to ask for help from friends and family.
It takes courage to confess to loved ones that you aren’t living up to your standards.
Conversely, justification is the antithesis of courage.
Shame is the enemy of love.
Hiding is the opposite of being free.
Courage is our gateway to realizing our highest ideals. High Noon has been exposed to so many courageous people who may not look the part of a superhero, but are far braver than anyone who appeared in a comic book or that slated a dragon in a fairy tail.
These people are slaying their inner dragons, the type that breathes self loathing rather than fire. They’re choosing to share openly with their families with their communities. They choose a life of honesty rather than a life of hiding.
The more you decide to avoid telling others about who you really are, the more that you will be stuck in a place of fear and anxiety and doubt. There is no access to your true power in that place.
Courage is confronting the shadows in your life, the secrets, the darkness, the mistakes, the fears, the doubts you have about yourself or about your faith, the pain that you’ve caused yourself or others, the disconnect between you and your heavenly parent.
It’s facing all of that and saying, “I’ve made these mistakes but I am better than this.”
It is seeking after something better, an upgrade and a fresh start.
It takes courage to look at yourself honestly.
It takes courage to assess your life.
It takes courage to have a conversation with yourself about how you are really doing on that foundation.
It takes great courage to admit your mistakes to another human being. It takes great courage to be open and honest with real people.
And It takes great courage to seek a sincere path to restoring your mistakes.
So, the more we make a habit of seeking after honesty with ourselves, being honest with others, the more courageousness will become our default setting and the easier it will become to live with courage.
To develop the muscle of courage is to do what you feel is right all the time, in every circumstance. That means standing up for yourself or other people when you injustice. And It also means having the courage to admit when you are wrong.
When you have made a mistake in our modern world, it’s very easy to justify your reasoning and very difficult to accept full responsibility.
This is because courage is a virtue that isn’t celebrated as it once was. But in truth, there can be no joy without courage.
You are forced to constantly justify and rationalize without courage. Without courageousness there will be endless missed opportunities to experience wholeness and fulfillment with yourself, with others, and with God.
When we develop the muscle of courage, we facilitate a path for our hearts to reign free and for God to powerfully work through us.