“Coward” is just a long four letter word, but when it’s true, and said with love, it can actually give you courage.
Sometimes you need someone to tell you that you are a coward. It sucks. It feels like a punch in the face.
That word burns through your mind and burrows into your being. It is what no man wants to hear, what no man wants to admit about themselves. Not many people have earned the right to tell another that they lack the courage to face their fears, but for me anyway, some have.
I was face to face with one of the few people who can call me that word. He looked me in the eye and said it with a sincerity that was both brutal and tender. I knew he was right and it was frightening and liberating to know it was the truth.
It sounds a bit crazy. How can it feel good to not only hear someone question your courage, but to acknowledge it as reality? Any other day and I may not have felt this way. Like so many other things in life, the timing needed to be right. There had to be no other options, just the truth. When only the truth remains, you can either go further down the rabbit-hole and hide or you can embrace it.
While there are few people can get away with saying something so powerful and hurtful to me and not be dismissed or possibly pummeled, the person who said this to me has certainly earned it. He’s been my best friend since the eighth-grade. We have gone through the decades together and weathered many storms. We have worn Miami Vice jackets to school on the same day, dressed like ninjas and staged mock battles in public, and we have shared more laughs than many people will share with the world in their entire life. He is one of few people on this planet to whom I have bared the contents of my soul. He is one of the few I can trust.
When he looked me in the eye and told me I was a coward, he did so with the knowledge of a lifetime. He knows who I was, who I am, and who he knows I can be. It was not a casual statement meant to rile my feelings. It was not a word he used just to goad me into a response. It was the truth as he saw it based on years of friendship. No anger, no malice, no pretense, only honesty.
I reacted to his choice of words with the welling of tears in my eyes. While the words stung at first, they settled in quickly and found their home in my mind. Honesty has a way of finding its target. A few other people had beaten around the bush with what he was saying, but none of them had said it in such a direct manner. Where their messages had failed to make a difference, his had hit the mark.
The reason for this conversation does not matter. The message and the outcome are what I want you to walk away thinking about. One man had the courage to tell another the truth. The other had to make a choice to accept it or turn a blind-eye. I am happy to say I made the right choice. I accepted that in one aspect of my life, I had been a coward. I also realize that it took courage to hear it, to breathe it in, and to own it.
In the course of a conversation, I went from being a coward to having courage.
Originally published on MyMindIsLeaking.com – reprinted by permission.