I sat outside the building, my quivering hand resting on my lips. My stomach was filled with a million butterflies. My thoughts absent as I stared from a distance. Courage was not something I was feeling at this moment. I watched as complete strangers came and went from the massive building where, each week, I would be spending more time than at my own home.
My heart didn’t want to open the car door. I wanted to turn around and drive. Sitting under a warm blanket and binge-watching TV for the rest of the summer seemed like a much better option.
But, my call to be a teacher had led me to this place. Just completing my maternity leave, I was headed into summer vacation when I received a message from my supervisor. Due to budget cuts, I was the one picked to be moved to another position in the district.
The place I was currently on leave from had been my home away from home for ten solid years. I had gotten married and had my three babies with friends that had become family cheering me on. We had shared the ups and downs of working life, marriages, parenting, and supervisor changes together. There was no talking anyone out of this and I was disappointed and devastated.
Days after hearing the news I had contemplated quitting all together. I had looked at all the options and weighed all the pros and cons with my husband. I had asked questions and pleaded earnestly with God. Over time, I began to feel a settling and a peace.
Maybe a fresh start would be good?
Was there someone at this new place I was to minister to?
What if this experience was going to set me up for something in my future?
My attitude and perspective began to change like my new assignment. I was reminded that courage comes in a lot of different forms. I was also reminded that courage comes with it the willingness to take up that which seems difficult.
Courage requires a grit to press forward into unseen territory. It asks us to take a risk on something we don’t know what the outcome will be. Courage calls us out of our comfort and helps us create new goals as we gain a different perspective.
Heroes of the faith and those throughout history were consistently faced with areas that required their daunting courage. I think of the earth shakers and world changers who spread the sacred gospel, fought for social justice, and maintained their position despite the voices of naysayers around them.
Courage asks us to take a stand and follow it through to the end. Our positions may change, based on our own experiences and our developing maturity. The courage to say, “I was wrong, and I am willing to do better” can be scary but the very thing needed to allow God to work in our own hearts.
King David reminds us to “Be strong and let you heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord”. (Psalm 31:24, ESV)
It took courage for Moses to face Pharaoh nearly a dozen times and ask the same question “Will you let my people go?”
In the face of rejection, Esther was asked stand before her husband and plead the cause of her people.
Ruth left everything familiar to walk with her mother-in-law into an unseen land.
Mary faced ridicule and shame as she made the conscious decision to joyfully carry and raise the Son of God.
Yes, courage teaches us bravery.
As I stood outside my car that morning ready to walk into an unfamiliar school building, I realized that I was on the threshold of what could be a beautiful new beginning. My choice to walk forward in the strength of the Lord helped me face the faces and situation with clarity and focus.
We never just have one change in our lives that require courage. They come at us regularly and are molding us into all we are called to be. Each step taken in courage builds confidence and a sense of purpose.
These steps remind us of the faithfulness of God in the middle of uncertainty. They provide peace in the storms and joy in the sadness. Courage whispers we can persevere and that we are called for this time in history.
What are you being called to face with courage? Let the words of the Lord to Joshua remind you to press forward in faith.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9, ESV)