woman in bed using her smartphone

Authentic courage is a choice we all must make.

Authentic courage is a choice.

Yesterday I wrote about courage and who I consider courageous. You know that I look at courage a little differently. To me, the most courageous people are not those who accomplish great feats they are trained for anyway, but ordinary people who get up every day and do their duty no matter how they feel, mentally or physically.

woman in hospital bed/courage

I know too many people right now who are facing cancer battles. And they are all so brave. I’m not sure I would be. Maybe they didn’t think so, either.

Courage often shows up in those who think they have none.

Courage is not doing something stupid that just happens to turn out. Habitual risk-takers are not courageous. They are just habitual risk-takers.

Courage is that something we dig down deep inside us to find. I don’t think courage comes naturally to most of us.

Here are two definitions of courage, the ability to do something that frightens one and strength in the face of pain and grief.

What frightens you?

I’ll just bet what frightens you doesn’t frighten me. For example, I’m not afraid of mice, bugs, snakes, bears, etc. I have no idea why. But talking about my book at a book signing terrifies me. Walking over bridges, water in general, walking into a group of strangers, getting lost, and worrying about losing someone scare me as well.

We are all so different, but wouldn’t you also agree that some people need to be more afraid than they are? I know women who don’t think twice about grocery shopping later at night and walking into a dark parking lot. That’s not brave; that’s foolish.

People’s fears are unique to them. They’re born from our childhoods and our personalities. But the most courageous are those for who courage doesn’t come easily.

Courage is a response to fear.

Generally, there are three types of fear.

  • Rational Fear. Rational fears occur where there is a real, imminent threat. …
  • Primal Fear. Primal fear is defined as an innate fear that is programmed into our brains. …
  • Irrational Fear. Irrational fears are the ones that don’t make logical sense and can vary significantly from person to person.

Rational fear

Rational fear is obvious. A tornado is coming. We’ve got a notice saying we are going to be audited by the IRS. There’s a job interview we’re anxious about, and a speech we have to give in front of hundreds looms before us. These are all perfectly good reasons to be afraid. But we find it easier to draw on our courage when something is obvious.

danger stay back signage/courage

Primal fear

Primal fear is inborn, and this fear serves us well. It’s the one that tells us we are in physical danger. We need to act quickly. Most of us can find courage when our loved ones or we are threatened. Mothers especially know this to be true. We would find whatever courage we needed to protect our child from harm.

Irrational fear

But this last one, irrational fear, is where our courage wanes. We have a hard time finding our courage because we don’t really know why we are afraid of what we are afraid of.

An example

When my husband and I were in Florida a few years ago, we were at our favorite beach. It’s unknown to most people, and there are seldom more than a dozen people there.

My husband had gone down the beach a long way, and I decided I would meet him as he headed back. I paid no attention to the tide. After walking a distance, I decided he was too far down and turned around to go back.

I found myself almost stranded on a small piece of sand with water all around me, a little island of sand that soon might be covered as well. Terrified, I just stood there. I hightailed it back through a shallow stretch of water, hoping it was indeed shallow, and then walked further up on the sand.

I was so scared and probably could’ve easily walked through the inlet water, but I knew the sand could be really soft. I felt so foolish for being so scared, but I do have a healthy respect for water. I’ve never forgotten that experience.

Why was I scared?

I really was in no danger and have no idea why I’m so afraid of water. I am also afraid when I go kayaking, but I can get beyond that.

a woman covering her ears/courage

And some of us, the Bible states, are afraid of fear itself. It’s called meta-fear. Proverbs 3:24-25: “Do not be afraid of sudden fear…..For the LORD, will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.”

But God has a lot to say about fear. There are all kinds of estimates depending on if you are using words other than fear, but they mean fear or whether you’re searching for nouns, verbs, etc. But no matter what your criteria, there are a lot of verses about fear.

And courage is a response to fear, isn’t it?

So how do we find courage?

We recognize our fear.

First of all, we recognize our irrational fears. This is easier said than done. But we don’t have to know the “why,” only that we are. If we avoid facing them, we will only worsen them. Anxiety stems from fear, and once we face it, our anxiety lessens.

We don’t have to explain our fears to anyone, but we do have to admit them to God. If I were to pretend I am scared to death of book signings, why would I feel the need to turn to God? It draws us closer to God, and we grow spiritually when we admit our fears to our father.

We claim God’s promises.

And, once again, there are a lot of them. Here’s a great list.

We can do so much to manage our fears and find the courage we need. When we do, we can feel like a lion and roar. The world seems so much less scary when we’re roaring and now meowing. Right?

God bless, and have a roaring good day.