Looking back on my adult life, however, I can recall events where courage emerged from me when I least expected it to. In my 20s I found myself brave enough to break off a wedding engagement when I came to the realization that he wasn't "the one." I then married a man whose culture is quite different from mine. In my 30s I went back to school to finish my nursing degree, I underwent infertility treatments, and I gave birth to 3 children in 5 1/2 years. I also did 4 triathlons and a half marathon. When I turned 40, I felt my insecurities subsiding even more, and I was filled with greater courage to just be myself, no matter now goofy or ditzy that may look at times. I also found the courage to laugh at myself. Often.
Last year God called me to a ministry in the church as the Christian Education Director. It's been almost 12 months since I first sat in that office, stared at the walls, and said, "Now what?" The last 11 months have been peppered with many soul-filling highs and several gut-wrenching lows since that first day in March, and as I look forward to celebrating my first year "on-the-job," I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the courage God has gifted me with to not only accept the position, but to keep on keepin' on in spite of the stumbles and challenges. Isn't that what Jesus did in his ministry?
Our bible study group has been studying "The Purpose Driven Life." It occurred to me during our most recent discussion that sometimes when searching for our purpose, we will need to be courageous for we have no idea where God will lead us when we ask Him that question, "What am I here for?" He could lead us on a completely different path than the one we are currently on...a path that is new, untraveled, and scary. That's where the courage comes in.
What have I learned about courage over the course of my life? For some of us, being courageous takes...well...courage! I believe that some people emerge from the womb without a fearful bone in their body. I have a friend like this, and I am in awe of her boldness, her focus, and her ability to "go for it" in all aspects of her life. Then there are others who often wake up in the morning needing to make the conscious effort to step out of the boat, take that leap of faith, and stand firm in whom and what they believe in, either because of circumstances that God has put in their lives or simply because of how God has made them.
While I'm delighted to see my courage level rising over the last few years, I still see myself as someone who needs a constant reminder to be courageous. As a wife. As a mom. As a Christian Education Director. As a sister and daughter. As a friend. That is why "courage" is my mantra this year, and Joshua 1:9 is my new life verse (the verse is in the sidebar). Because who am I not to be courageous since it is what my God has commanded of me?
And believe me when I tell you that I am clinging to the fact that courage doesn't always equal success. Sometimes courage just means taking a deep breath and going for it. We may fall flat on our face. It could turn out disastrously. But if I believe I'm being guided by the Holy Spirit make a change or do something bold, then He will honor that no matter what the outcome. Thank God we aren't called to be successful. We are called to be faithful.