The Courage of New Beginnings
By Cathy Fort Leyland
Today, we welcome Cathy Fort Leyland to the blog with a guest post on courage. Read more of Cathy’s work here.
Courage – n. “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”Merriam Webster
Courage isn’t something we keep stored away in a warehouse. We can’t stockpile it. It’s something we seek when faced with danger, fear, or challenge.
What springs to mind when you think of courage? Do you think of times when you’ve had courage or times when you’ve lacked it? Do you look to others for it? Is courage something you’ve desired, but often feels out of reach?
Courage comes in many forms. A classic test of courage we can all relate to is seen in a toddler standing on the edge of a pool, beckoned by a parent with outstretched arms to jump into the water. The child hems and haws while the parent calmly calls her name and promises to catch her—if she’ll dare spring from her safe, secure perch.
We look at such an image with experienced eyes, yet it stirs something within us. We’ve been that child, compelled to leap while gripped with fear. Full of apprehension, we yearn to respond to the fear urging us to be brave and jump. The desire is great, but the fear seems greater. How long do we stand there squirming? When will we muster up the courage to take the plunge?
I’ve been there. Perhaps you’re there now.
I can make a big deal about doing something for the very first time. I fear failure and looking stupid, and I don’t like making mistakes. I want to avoid that awkward feeling of being all thumbs. And if I’m honest, sometimes I don’t even want to do what’s required and would rather someone do it for me. Writer Emily P. Freeman says, “There’s nothing that insults our ego like realizing you are a beginner.”
What beginning are you facing? The beginning of a new form of treatment? The beginning of the end of a relationship? The beginning of grief?
All of our new beginnings require courage.
I remember feeling like an imposter as I stood quaking before my first college classroom of students in China. They were seasoned English teachers, most of them older than me, and had been granted a sabbatical to study with “the foreign experts.” My only credential was that I was a native speaker with a college degree. Most of them knew English grammar better than I did, but the goal was to bring the language alive for them. It was a faith-stretching, character-building, life-changing two years. A few years later, I married my Canadian teammate and embarked on another adventure—moving from the Pacific Northwest to Toronto. Though Canada and the U.S. are neighbors geographically, the history and politics are vastly different, and the cultural subtleties have taken years to absorb. It’s been over 30 years, and I’m thoroughly acclimated; the courage required back then is but a faded memory.
Courage looks different in different seasons of life.
Courage has been needed to begin again, to marry again, to trust again. Courage is needed to live with estranged family members, to stick with a friend who’s lost her faith, to love those who are hard to love.
None of the courage to do these things comes easily, but I’ve found humility to be a companion of courage. It requires me to ask for help and accept it with grace and gratitude.
Matthew 14 offers insight into where we can find courage. It’s the middle of the night, and Jesus appears to the disciples on the water! They are terrified and fear he is a ghost. The first thing Jesus says to them is, “Take courage. It is I. Do not be afraid.”
What does it mean to take courage? Does Jesus offer it, but we must grab it? After we’ve put our trust in Him, does it get easier to trust Him the next time? Does God ever tire of proving He is trustworthy? Is God ever ready to equip us with what we need?
Are you in need of courage? What would it look like to take courage in a particular area of your life? Can you put words to it, either in writing or in conversation with another? Will you ask the Lord to give you what you need?
“Shortly after dawn, Jesus went out to them walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said.” – Matthew 14:22-28
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6
If you enjoyed Cathy’s reflection on courage, sign up to receive 3 Re-Word Devotions written by Cathy and follow her on social media for more reflections.
About the Author
Cathy Fort Leyland’s desire is to offer soulful reflections that encourage your heart and deepen your faith. Her website is the place to find hope for your journey based on Truth from God’s Word. Cathy believes in a God of second chances and new beginnings. You are invited to follow along on her writing adventure with hopes that your faith deepens and your perspective widens. Grow alongside Cathy as you enjoy her Reflections on the Water.
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