I recently read Matthew Kelly’s The Book of Courage, which contains pages and pages of quotes on the subject of courage. (Interesting fact: Kelly has been compiling these quotes since he was seventeen years old!)
At first, I didn’t really “get” why courage was such an important topic. I mean, I understood why a person would want to have courage in certain circumstances–public speaking, for example–but I didn’t really understand why fear is such an all-encompassing, and often debilitating, emotion.
In his introduction, Kelly explains why fear is so pervasive: It keeps us from accomplishing our goals, from attempting new things, from bouncing back after life-altering or traumatic circumstances.
Fear keeps us stagnant, tentative. Courage gives us the inner power to pursue things that matter.
One section of the introduction really grabbed me:
Don’t waste your life, because life is there–all you have to do is reach our and embrace it. Anything is possible. Whatever your dream is, make it happen. Have courage. Start today. You will be amazed what life will give you in return for a little bit of courage.
Be certain of one thing, the measure of your life will be the measure of your courage.
Powerful words, right?
Those of you who know me personally know that parts of my life have been a truly uphill battle, and I don’t hesitate to call myself courageous. But after battling through that part of my life, I thought I didn’t need to be courageous anymore. Wrong.
Courage is always present in our lives. It is the driving force, the thing that gives you the “umph” you need to keep on keepin’ on.
Courage is stepping away from the comfort of a 9-to-5 and pursuing your passion. It’s skydiving. It’s traveling to new places and meeting new people. It’s going back to school after 20 years. It’s writing a book. It’s starting to exercise and taking control of your health. It’s attempting a new home improvement project. It’s joining a social group and making new friends.
Courage is small, and it is big. It can be easy to come by, and it can be the most difficult thing in the world to muster.
So, what are we waiting for? We only get one shot at life. Isn’t it time for a little soul-searching? Visit a quiet church in the middle of the day. Take a walk in the park. Turn off the television and talk to your children. Open the paper and look for the job you’ve always wanted. Keep a promise. Tell your mom you love her. Restore an old Ford. Make friends with your neighbors. Say yes instead of maybe. Watch a sunset. Write your spouse a love letter. Fly a kite. Say “sorry”. Ask that girl out on a date. Try a food you’ve never tasted before. Make peace with God.
He’s right: What are we waiting for? Life is so precious and so short–let us go out into the world and make the most of it.