Finding Courage in the Everyday

by Susan Pogorzelski on January 21, 2010 · 15 comments

I wonder if there is a difference between being brave and being courageous.

I wonder if they aren’t both equally powerful, just in different ways. Being brave, I imagine, is reserved for those who scale mountains to rescue stranded hikers or enter burning buildings, those who take to the streets to protect their cities against adversity and march with their platoons millions of miles away from home. That is bravery in the greatest sense of the word — venerable and true. But courage…

I wonder if courage is something quieter, something deeper, something much more intrinsic and personal.

I think courage is what rises when you least expect it, but when you most need it. I think it’s what engulfs your heart, wrapping it and protecting it like a type of armor, like chain mail — strong and impenetrable, but allowing light and love to still pour through.

In courage lies compassion. In courage lies a quiet wisdom and understanding. In courage lies a strength more profound, yet, too, more vulnerable, than anything else.

I’ve recently come to realize that courage resides in the quiet moments of every day, so hushed, so concealed, that you might just miss it if you aren’t looking closely:

It’s the many hours spent pacing the hospital waiting room floor, awaiting news on a loved one. It’s believing in love enough to move across the country for it, taking the chance on the skip of a heartbeat. It’s taking responsibility for mistakes and admitting past regrets, yet deciding to move on with integrity.

Courage is living alone after living together for over fifty years. It’s visiting a grandmother in the nursing home, knowing she won’t be the same person whose memory is held dear. It’s the love of a family and taking care of those closest to you.

Courage is holding on when you want to let go…

…and letting go when you want so desperately to hold on.

I’ve seen that quiet strength in family and friends these past few weeks, have noticed it more and more lately as I’ve questioned what the word means to me. And I’ve come to the conclusion that in each of us lies the ability to be brave, to act on an inner strength and accomplish feats that we never thought possible. But I think, too, that there resides in each of us a quiet courage reserved for these everyday moments.

There’s courage in acknowledging fear, walking side by side with it, then finding the strength to bid that fear farewell. There’s courage in looking at yourself – all your flaws and insecurities that hold you back, the regrets that linger, the memories that last — and loving yourself regardless.

Maybe there’s even courage in a smile, when that next one once seemed so far away.

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