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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Secret Ingredient of Courage is Fear

Think about it. One can't choose to react with courage if they first do not realize the gravity of the situation they are facing.

If you're Spanky (below), you don't "fear" carrying a dead squirrel in your mouth. He doesn't understand the germ concerns us humans do. In fact, a person choosing to pick up a dead squirrel with their bare hands is probably not brave or courageous. They may be...unwise.
Fears can be rational or irrational. However, when I see the damage done by the recent tornadoes rocking our country and then hear the sirens go off, I'm scared! It's a rational fear, based on the gravity of the situation. The wise thing to do is take cover. The foolish thing to do is run out with your video camera (unless you have one of those cool army tank-type weather channel vehicles).

After the storm has passed and someone is struggling in the debris, only a courageous person dives in to rescue them. As much as I'd like to think I'd be that person, most likely I'd flail my arms, spin in circles and (hopefully) eventually call an ambulance. It's not that I'd be afraid to get blood on me or step on a nail. It's that I'd be afraid to find someone suffering and I'd feel helpless.

A courageous person knows what they might find, but goes forward anyway.

Today you might be facing a situation that causes you fear. Whether it's something at your job or something within yourself, what you might discover and have to deal with may frighten you. Chances are, you can avoid it. Or, you can act with courage by pushing through the legitimate obstacles that may cause pain and distress.

When my husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness, we both cried. We knew he was going to die and death is, well, scary. However, he still got up every morning and acted like a normal person (normal for him anyway) living his life. A month before he died, he went to the dentist to have his teeth cleaned, even though he knew the end was near. Maybe that's not courage as much as it is faith (or maybe something else, like an addiction to oral hygiene - that man loved to floss). But he did have options, giving into his fear, reacting with panic and acting with the utmost despair.

When people said "he was so brave" I didn't really understand it. Understanding that fear is necessary for courage to take place, I think I do.

In today's world, there's plenty to fear. How will you choose to react?

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