September 17, 2015
Filed In: Philosophy
When we think about courage, we often think about people overcoming all odds to accomplish something great. It may be an athlete reaching a new human speed record, a member of the Armed Services using their body as a shield against a grenade, or even someone who was told that they'd never walk again getting up and taking independent steps. We play up courage to a heroic level, one that's divorced from daily life, and certainly from our own life. We've got this all wrong.
There's no doubt that any of the above acts require great courage, but courage isn't just about amazing feats, it's about overcoming our own resistance, limitations, and doubts to achieve something. It takes courage for artists to share their work with the world, for salespeople to make a cold call, and for Catholics to live their faith during their daily lives. The truth is, we all have courage within us, we just have to be bold enough to use it.
In order to let loose the power of our courage, we have to be humble. Pride inhibits courage. Take, for example, our interior life. It takes courage to root out our principal sin. It takes humility to first acknowledge that we've let a particular sin exist in our lives and that we may have to give up something in order to get rid of it. The humility of recognizing our situation leads to the courage to make changes in our lives that will eventually get rid of that sin.
In the workplace, we're faced with the need to have the courage to maintain our integrity. St. Thomas More was willing to give Henry VIII everything, except for his integrity. In the face of certain death, Thomas had the courage to maintain his integrity and lost his life for it. While we likely won't be faced with a situation of the same gravity, at one time or another we're pressured to violate our integrity at work. It takes courage to stand up and do the right thing. We all have it within us, but the question is, will we act on it.
In our marriage, courage is an absolute necessity. The temptation to turn marriage into a transactional relationship is a daily confrontation. We're tempted to balance each gain that our wife makes with a gain for ourselves. We're tempted to demand that our wife meet all of our emotional needs regardless of the state of her health or energy levels. We need to have the courage to put ourselves all on the line. We need to have the courage to serve selflessly all day, every day. We need to have the courage to look to our wife first, our family second, and to ourselves last. We need to have the courage to be emotionally present. It's not easy, and many who have tried have failed. Therein lies the beauty of marriage. It’s a difficult vocation, but in the trials, much fruit is borne.
I challenge you today to live courageously. It’ll take work, and we won't always be successful, but we do have it within us. We are programmed to live courageously, let's not let ourselves stand in the way.