“Courage is the mastery of fear, not the absence of fear.” Mark Twain
A few years ago, our family life was shaken to the core. Over a ten month period, we encountered several trials that left us dazed like a boxer getting nailed with an unexpected left hook.
I won’t share the whole story in this post, but I will give some of the highlights of our courage story. During that ten month period, our youngest son was born three months premature and weighed two pounds. He spent two months in the hospital. My wife was extremely sick during the entire pregnancy and eight months afterward she had to have major surgery.
I lost my job two weeks after the baby came home, both cars decided to have major problems at the same time, we had to exhaust our retirement accounts and to top it off my father suddenly passed.
Those were just a few things that we encountered during those tumultuous ten-months. Our world was literally turned upside down and inside out. Life as normal was disturbed. We had to make some drastic changes in our lifestyle to meet those new challenges.
Fear was constantly present. Thoughts of defeat bombarded my mind. Over and over in my head, I heard the same questions, “How are you going to recuperate from this,” “How are you going to make it,” and “Where is your faith.”
Those were trying times.
What is courage?
I had encouraged and ministered to others about having courage in difficult circumstances. I had encouraged others to stand strong and trust God in the face difficulties. Now it was time for me to put feet to my faith.
There were times I lost courage and almost gave up, but it always seemed at the right time someone would encourage me to stand strong or I would read a passage of scripture or a book or article that would inspire me to fight through the pressure.
I remember one evening I was really struggling with fear. I needed encouragement. I can’t remember the name of the magazine or how I got it, but I read an article that talked about having courage in difficult circumstances.
I don’t remember everything in the article or even the title, but I do remember the author asking a powerful question. “What does it mean to have courage?”
I wrote down the definition and tucked it away in my notebook. The authored defined courage as: standing when everyone else wants to run, speaking when everyone is afraid to speak, acting when everyone is paralyzed by fear, taking action in the face of danger, holding one’s character and moral uprightness when everyone else is tempted to compromise theirs.
Words of inspiration
I was so inspired by this definition of courage that I began to read it every day for inspiration. Just as I was inspired by the author’s definition of courage, I want to inspire you to have courage in crisis.
Your life may have taken some strange twists and turns you never dreamed would have ever happened. You thought you were going on a smooth ride on a four-lane expressway to your dreams, but you ended up on a dark, bumpy, winding, endless dirt road to disaster. You did not plan on your life going in this direction.
You imagined that you would be making a great salary, living debt free, happily married or leading your own business. You thought you would be living your American dream. But, it seems that you are living the American nightmare. You are so far from where you dreamed you would be.
Living courageously involves shifting your focus away from trying to remove the fear of your crisis to pursuing a full and meaningful life alongside fear.
Here are 3 ways to live courageously in crisis:
1. Leave negative people alone.
You don’t have to go far to find people that will discourage you with their pessimistic commentary. Hang out in the break room at work too long or talk to discontented people for a few minutes and the negative vibes will surface.
When we were going through our intense crisis, I made it a priority to hang around positive people. I needed people in my life that could encourage us to see victory in spite of what looked like defeat. I thank God; He put the right people in our lives that encouraged our lives during this tough period.
Life is too short to spend time with people who deplete your life with their negative attitudes and conversations. You have the power to walk away. Don’t allow them to trap you in their web of negativity. Make it a priority to walk away from negative people and surround yourself with people who have a more positive and optimistic outlook.
2. Learn from past victories.
I remember when I was younger hearing the old folks say, “If you have not experienced any troubles, keep living.” I could not register in my mind what they meant at such a young age. But, something happened. I kept living and now I know exactly what they meant.
Crisis will come. It will come when you least expect it. Crisis will have you believing your life won’t get better or why did this happen to me. Just know, if you survived a previous crisis then you can survive through the current crisis.
The thing that really helped me during a recent crisis was to list my past victories. I admonish you, if you are currently enduring a crisis and don’t know if you are going to make it, sit down and make a list of past victories and how you made it through them. Read them daily for encouragement. Replay them in your mind for inspiration.
What can you take away from your past victories that will give you the courage to deal with your current reality? Take what you learn and use it to your advantage to get through your crisis.
3. Listen to your life’s vision.
Open your ears to the sound of your vision. Your life’s vision is calling you to live life with the expectancy that you can get through any crisis. I know personally that it is difficult to listen to your life’s vision when you are distracted by the contrary voices of your crisis.
During our intense crisis, I constantly heard my negative inner voice whisper in me ear telling me that we won’t make it. Daily, my negative inner voice would spit out his negative poison trying to convince me that we would lose everything. There were many days I came close to yielding to the negative voice of my crisis, but because the voice of my life’s vision outweighed the negative voice, I kept pushing forward.
Through all the contrary voices, you must heed the voice of your life’s vision. If you listen, your vision’s voice will give you the energy and enthusiasm you need to push through your crisis. I am not promising you that it will be easy to block out the conflicting voices around you.
I am not promising you that your crisis will magically go away because you have a vision. However, with patience and persistence, you can learn to listen to your vision’s voice over your crisis’s voice and live at maximum capacity.
Question: How can you show courage in a difficult situation? Leave comment below.
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