Can We Grow In Courage?
I believe that, with willingness, our faith in God grows. Other attributes like, love for Christ, self and others grow too. Hope grows. Growth in these areas are markings of spiritual maturity or spiritual muscle. However, it takes courage to grow, especially with so many opposing forces to our faith. Courage in and of itself should evidence growth. With the varied tests from God and temptations from the enemies of God, we have to possess courage to pursue, stand, or whatever we must be or do in a given moment.
I wrote on the "Art Of Silence" in my book, AGING WITH GRACE:Reflections That Revive Women. Being silent on a matter is not always easy, especially when you know truths that oppose that which is being presented. Being silent is sometimes necessary and it takes courage not to speak on a matter. Subsequently, it also requires courage to speak up and out particularly when no one else is doing so, when it is unpopular, and may cause back lash. Whether "we choose" to stand up for someone, table something, leave or remain in a situation, courage to do any of these things is necessary.
One of the things that has always annoyed me was to witness a person or community fail to do the important and right thing. As a child it bothered me and as an adult even more. As I grew in grace, I realized that the Lord was calling me to be about the very thing that I desired to witness in others. Thus, my actions to speak out, reserve an opinion, remain or remove myself from a local had to reflect the change, the exposure of courage that I desired to see in the world. Case in point, when I decided after 20 plus years of marriage to file for divorce, a common comment of many spoken to me was, "You have courage", someone even called it "grit". At the time I did not see my decision as being courageous, but over time I did. Initially, I was fed up with deceptions, infractions, masking my pain, holding it together for others, and abuses of grace, and forgiveness. Letting go of a 4,000+ sq. ft. luxury house that I had financially invested in and other material things no longer mattered; my life did. Discarding the label of First Lady was not a problem for me because I never got caught up into titles as a definition of me. My run was done. However, listening to the painful and even spineless comments of both men and women during my separation and divorce journey, I realized that fear was the basis of their statements and that my acts of courage drew attention to their fears. Of course this was never my intention, but as the Lord would decide and guide, courage opened up needed conversations on so many levels. The decision for me to relocate mentally, emotionally and finally physically took courage. Yet, like a child who takes his/her first unsteady steps, I took steps of courage with faith and with each step I grew stronger in spirit, mind, body and soul. Where there moments of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty? Absolutely. Each step took me to a higher place in thought and action. Each step was an act, a choice of courage over fear. The command to "be courageous" was always before me. I had no idea until years later how my public and private acts of courage helped me and others grow and become whole.
We have growth spurts in courage. Larger and more intense issues are permitted to confront us as we develop as ambassadors for Christ. Each momentous matter is more conflicting, controversial, and confusing than the one experienced before, but Christ gives us all what we "need" for our designed journey. With courage, he gives strength and peace, for to do anything that requires courage, one must be strong and possess peace. Each decision requiring faith also requires courage to act on that faith, for as we know faith without works is dead. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen, but courage is the evidence of having faith, proof of our belief, hope, and trust in God.
If you are wondering whether or not you have grown spiritually, take a moment to evaluate and reflect upon your journey. The Lord's Spirit will identify where courage was necessary and you boldly went forward with a plan of action. In your assessment of yourself, you will see that there has been growth in your courage. You speak up with power and love now. You recognize when to hold your peace now when confronted with evil. With courage you have done so. You now leave a place or a person without anxiety and you now keep your footing and stand in contentious places with confidence. You have grown in courage. Due to growth in the area of courage, our Lord can trust us with more of the seemingly intimidating and embarrassing matters. We have become more than conquerors because of our courageous acts. That said, whatever you are faced with today, know that you are equipped with courage. Walk in it, talk in it and see the results of your growth.