I call it “virtue soup.” Because there’s never just one virtue going on—it’s always a blending. Sometimes it’s courage and faith. Or courage and hope. Or courage and love. Or all of them combined with just the right seasoning to suit the situation.
Three everyday examples of courage
Courage is the will to go forward to do the right thing despite fear. I witnessed or experienced three examples this week. I hope they inspire you to ask where in your life you could be more courageous.
Courage and hope
The first example of courage this week was a presentation by Abby Johnson, author of Unplanned. She’s helped over 550 abortion workers who wanted to leave the industry. She said it’s not like “just get another job.” Leaving means having to face what you were involved in. For Abby, it meant leaving amidst the attacks, including legal attacks, of those who were not ready to face that. It meant courage fired by a “hope of things unseen” —that she would find peace on the other side of that battle.
She now spends her time helping others find the courage to leave the industry so they can enjoy the freedom and healing she has found. If you or someone you know is hurting after contact with the abortion industry, Abby is at http://www.abbyjohnson.org/contact-1
Courage and faith
My friend Rodger has tongue cancer. That is, he had it until successful surgery a few weeks ago. I saw him today—he’s talking and eating pretty normally now. But they found cancer in one of the lymph nodes they removed, so radiation and chemo are coming up.
He told me, “I’ve never felt more inner peace than I have now.” He described what happens when he’s attacked by fear. “I get little slaps and pricks, which make me fall into fear for a day or two. But I feel that, as I’m falling, Our Lady is stomping on the serpent’s head and scooping me up in her arms.”
With faith, Rodger is able to see the big picture. “This thing is so much bigger than just me,” he says. “I don’t want to waste any of it.”
Courage despite fear
I’m not comparing myself to Abby and Rodger, but for me this was a big deal.
Before I left for the Catholic Writers Guild conference last week, I had dinner with my friends Melanie and Laura. When I said I wasn’t ready to approach any publishers or broadcasters yet to collaborate, that I’d just wait for that till next year, my friends just about jumped over the table at me. “No!!” they said. “It’s now—there is no next year. NOW!”
Gulp. This was definitely the Holy Spirit.
So I decided to “go big” at the conference (mainly because I couldn’t face my friends if I didn’t). I introduced myself to famous people to tell them what I do—and then had very little to say after that. A little awkward. But I did it.
I even signed up for a “pitch session” with a publisher. That means I told them about the book I’ve been writing on virtue to see if they want to publish it. And guess what? They asked for a full proposal, which means they’re interested in taking the next step! Readers have been asking lately when I’m coming out with a book. So it may actually happen—I’ll keep you posted.
Most of us have a chance to practice courage every day in small ways and big. My inspirations for courage since teenagehood have been two songs: “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from the musical Funny Girl and “I Have Confidence” from The Sound of Music https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RV-6qbUHVww. Scroll down and share who inspires you to be courageous.
I like to read Mother Teresa’s “Do it anyway.” It’s about practicing virtues in the face of fear. Ward Chamberlain, who drove a combat zone ambulance in WWII said the soldiers he admired most were those who were scared to death but did it anyway.
Chances are there will be help along the way. When Moses told God he didn’t feel up to the job, God said Aaron was there to help. What if Moses had chickened out?
All so true. In case a reader doesn’t know the poem you’re referring to, here it is!
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.
My now deceased, Polish Grandmother still inspires me. Even though I could only understand a few phrases when we visited her; I knew the word “good” when she caressed my cheek and I knew she had faith by the way she prayed though I was with her only a handful of times.
What a beautiful memory. So much can be said without words, especially showing love.
Hi Miss Rose,
You are always an inspiration to me and I’m glad that you asked the question about courage and who has helped me with it.
I was very fortunate to have parents and grandparents that instilled the importance of courage in doing the right things in everyday life. But there were many others and I must mention one stand up person that you know: John Brown of Greensboro, NC.
I was facing many changes in my life: church, career, teenagers, marriage, divorce, etc. John recruited me for my new career in a very large real estate office and I was concerned that I could live up to his expectations. His mentoring and encouragement to do my best was amazing! His wife and family have become great friends and my husband and family have strongly benefited from our alliance. Reaching for the stars and asking each day for God’s protection is my mantra. Thank you John for being there for me when I was living life on life terms.
John is one of the most upright people I know, but he won’t admit it :). He has been there for me, too, when I needed it most, as has his wife, my auntie Ginger. Thanks for shining a light on someone who is a bright light.
It was my teachers in Catholic schools, Catholic martyrs, and various homilies that gave me courage to be strong when someone whom I cared deeply about pressured me to commit serious sin. Horrendous suffering followed, and the wounds will never completely heal. But I know that I made the right decision. God has blessed me in countless ways.
My pastor’s homily was about standing up for moral truth even when we are called haters. He noted that such attacks are always ad hominem rather than countering our moral belief with a contrary one, which they don’t have. He said that he, like you, will be able to face God on that score when we see God at the end of our lives.
Congrats on your publishing path! I’m with your friends, God has blessed you with gifts that help us!!
Thank you Ann! Exciting to see what God has planned.
Dear Rose, Approaching Those folks in Pa. was very brave and courageous. Hoorah for you. And it becomes easier each time!
In my first job I felt I was being taken advantage of and had no idea how to approach the supervisor to change it. I was far from home but wrote my oldest brother, he was 12 years older, and was always a great mentor to me. He told me I must address it, and do it with sincere honesty and a calm voice. It worked extremely well . She later told me that she knew if I had something to say about her or the job, it would be brought to her directly, not come to her through the grapevine. Terrific advice from my brother in my early career. God Bless him.
Great email. Thanks.
Sincerity and a calm voice. Words to remember! Thanks for your courage story.
Congratulations, Rose, for the immediate launch into your new career!! Praise God for His quick response – which would have been less obvious if not for courage.
When do I step out best in weak-kneed, wobbly courage? When supported by the prayers of devoted, loving friends and family. Indeed, a three-strand cord is not easily broken.
We will all be praying for you in your exciting, new ministry!
I love your description of the strength of prayer as a “three-strand cord.” And thank you for your prayers!
My parents inspired me to be courageous by giving me the self confidence that allows me to proceed even when I am frightened. I simply “act as if” there are not a roomful of people looking at me, “act as if” I do not mind not knowing a single soul in the room, “act as if” a medical procedure will not be painful, etc. They taught me that making a mistake is a path to more knowledge, so there is no need to be afraid to fail.
Your parents really set you well for life! Because life is just full of “more knowledge.” :) Thanks for passing along their wisdom and your examples of courage.