C is for Courage

Courage comes in many forms. The older I get, the more I’ve come to appreciate courage of the non-adrenaline kind.

Courage of the non-adrenaline kind is  courage of the no-illusions kind- it means that you are aware from the beginning what you are facing. It’s the kind of courage you need when the trouble you are facing is lasting-  not just for days or weeks, but years- sometimes an entire lifetime.

It’s the courage you use to get up and face the day when a loved one you’ve depended on isn’t going to be there, knowing full well that they won’t be there the next day either, or the next, or the ones after that.

It’s the courage you use when each day you wake you know you are going to hurt and there is little that others can do to ease that pain, and yet you try to use that day to help ease someone else’s suffering.

It’s the courage and resolve behind every life decision based on the realization that even though you cannot always prevent others from hurting you, you are not obligated to allow that hurt to become an excuse for you to hurt someone else.

It’s the courage that is necessary to make changes that are hard, when the chances of slipping back into old habits are great. It’s the courage behind making those changes again and again as often as necessary until your actions reflect your deepest and most cherished beliefs each and every day.

Courage of the non-adrenaline kind tends towards the unglamorous, tedious, pedestrian, slow- often wending its way towards its final destination in a series of  infinitesimally small and infuriating steps. It demands patience and faith when patience and faith are already in short supply.

What makes a meaningful life?

I’d venture to say that most often it’s the hard parts- the one’s you don’t think you’ll survive- at least not with your heart intact, and guess what? You don’t, because what makes life meaningful are all the parts of you you give away.

There is a scripture that talks about the greatest love being the kind of love where you are willing to lay down your life for your friends. A few people do this in dramatic and beautiful ways. You see this in fires, floods, accidents, and war when one person risks or gives their life for another. Few of us will give our lives in this way because, for most of us, we don’t give our lives in an instant, we do it day by day in little ways over a period of years, even decades.

We do it when we share our time, our knowledge, and our talents with others; when we put people above things; and when we exchange behaviors that are debasing for habits and lifestyles that ennoble and empower us and everyone else whose lives we touch.

It means that every day we give others the best that is within us, while laying down what is unworthy of us along the way.

Whether we give our lives out of love in a span of years or a moment, it will require courage and sacrifice. For most of us, the courage required to make that happen will be of the non-adrenaline kind.

This post is part of ABC Wednesday.

12 thoughts on “C is for Courage

  1. I think your writing is courageous. It’s good, honest, unflinching. It’s why you’re listed in my blog post of later today.
    (Can I admit that I’m now singing “If I Only Had the Nerve” in my head? I can’t? Well, never mind.)

  2. What a wonderful compliment, Roger. Thank you. (And can I admit that you’ve got “If I Only Had a Brain” going around now in my head? *smile* I like the way you think, bud.)

  3. Well, I haven’t had to risk my own life for others, but I do know what it’s like to have to face each day with courage after my husband killed himself over 20 years ago! He left me with 2 daughters to raise and I was so afraid of men from then on, that I just buried myself in my work (went back to teaching). It has taken a long time to understand what happened, why, and that it was not my fault but his choice. Now I’m happy with an old flame, my daughters are grown up (one married with children and the other to marry this summer). Hopefully, I can face my old age with courage and grace. Wonderful post, Melanie!

    abcw team

    • Your story Leslie, illustrates exactly what I mean. You are one of the everyday heroes who watches out for others in the midst of your own suffering, who faces things that are excruciatingly hard and ultimately comes through them a more loving, joyful, and compassionate person. Congrats on your daughters and bravo for being brave enough to work through your past so that you could welcome love into your present and future. It’s an honor to get to know you and to learn from you and your experiences.

    • It’s a quality that does seem to require a bit more maturity and experience to appreciate. Perhaps it’s something we need to be sharing with the young people in our lives more frequently. Thanks for reading.

  4. Melle,

    That was absolutely beautiful! I had Ryan read it as well and he thought it was well done. I feel like all too often people feel like the only kind of courage that exists comes from saving someone from a moving car. I think that sometimes people don’t realize that there are many forms of courage, being there for someone, listening, living each day, putting forth a joyous attitude and the others that you mentioned. I love this post! So much! I am so proud of you! I love the new perspective that it gives. Thank you for being that living example of courage of the adrenaline kind, and courage of the non adrenaline kind.

    I love you!

    Your baby sister

  5. Your writing makes me remember the courage that my Mom imparted to us when she was alive. She was all too courageous in venturing into things she knew nothing about just to be able to ensure that we will have a great future ahead of us. I hope I can show the same courage to my children.

    Your writings are becoming such an inspiration to me, especially the “Dear Helen and John” series.

    • Thank you for sharing about your mom. It sounds like she left you a tremendous legacy and from what I’ve read on your site, you are doing the same for your son.

      I’m glad you are enjoying Dear Helen, Dear John. Those are special posts for me. There are certain things that are easier to share when I address them to them and it makes them a more active presence in my life now, which has been a sweet blessing. I think you can understand.

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