This post is part of a series titled, “A-B-Cs – What It’s Really Like”. Each week a new letter and its word will be revealed. Each word’s explanation will illustrate significant personal meaning, application and ultimately demonstrate, What It’s Really Like…
When is the last time you experienced something that was absolutely terrifying? If you survived it, chances are courage played a factor in overcoming the obstacle. Courage comes in all shapes, sizes and various forms. Some courage is engrained or inherited. Some courage needs to be coached. Some courage requires liquid libations. Regardless of appearance, courage is structured similarly at its core.
I thought back to times in my life where courage has played a role in the outcome. Learning to ride a bike, to swim and to drive a car are all occasions where a great deal of courage was required to master certain foreign skills. Courage is linked to three other attributes. I believe each of these words have to occur in order for courage to ultimately be achieved. They also happen to each begin with the letter ‘C’:
Confidence –> Conviction –> Commitment = Courage
My father did not believe in training wheels. This was either because he thought we would learn to ride a bike quicker without them or simply because the matching bikes he bought my brother and I did not come with them. Confidence. He convinced us that all we needed was to trust him and believe that we could ride the bike. Conviction. Was I able to ride without falling my first time? No. In fact, I fell several more times before my father let go of the back of my seat. In order for me to ride without assistance I needed to practice. Commitment. I learned to ride a bike before my parents paved our driveway. The entire driveway was gravel limestone. The stakes were high for learning to ride correctly; otherwise it may result in a deeply skinned knee. My parents did not want me riding toward the road. We would start practice rides at the end of the driveway riding back toward the house. The last thing you are taught when learning to ride a bike is steering. Most of the focus is on balancing the bike while pedaling. As our driveway got closer to the garage the turnaround area, it immediately made a 90-degree turn to the left. The driveway itself sat up on a hill that was graded away from the foundation of the driveway and the house. If you continued to go straight after the driveway ended it would take you down a short grassy hill into the backyard. As I stated before the last thing you think about when learning to ride a bike is steering. Eventually, Dad let go in the driveway and I was pedaling straight down the gravel drive, down off of the grassy hill and into the back yard. The final thing you learn to do when riding a bike is braking. While riding for the first time down a hill without knowledge or skill to steer or stop the bike I made a bee-line straight for the solid aluminum slide and swing set in the backyard. One of my first solo rides came to an end after crashing into the slide. My first ride was certainly not my last. In this case, getting back up on the bike and riding again is the metaphor we are all looking for. Courage.
Courage does not grow as we get older. No matter your age, doubt can loom around every corner. The scariest moments that I can recall in my adult life have been marriage, moving away from home and fatherhood. The hardest parts of my marriage were before it even began – all of which required me to speak. Asking my wife’s parents for her hand in marriage, proposing and repeating vows from our pastor during the ceremony were most terrifying to me out of fear that I might misspeak and mess up. It took a lot of help from the “three C’s” to give me the courage to stand and deliver in those situations.
I will never forget the first night we brought Little B home from the hospital. During our days in the hospital I was instilled with confidence and conviction that I was fully prepared to do whatever was needed to care for our newborn baby boy. These feelings were validated by my wife and nursing staff after I was able to accomplish required tasks in a relatively uneventful two and a half days after he was born. We would be sent home at the normal time. Little B easily acclimated to his new home during the daylight hours. Around the time Mommy and Daddy were ready to turn in for the night he began to cry…and wail…and scream. To this point, I had never heard or seen anything like the sounds or emotions that he was exhibiting. During the near 90-minutes that he cried in my arms I began praying and questioning aloud to my wife, God and whoever else might be listening that the people at the hospital did not know what they were doing and sent us home too early. As his crying continued, I remembered my confidence and conviction that I built taking care of him at the hospital. It didn’t matter to what level I was at in either trait – this child was now ours and I was committed to giving him whatever he needs. I used faith (something that will be written about in a later post) in my abilities to step up and meet the needs of the situation. Courage.
I will end with a final thought from a journal of quotes that my late Grandmother kept. I refer to it often and its contents may frequent some of my regular posts.
“Don’t be afraid to take a big step when one is indicated. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.”
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