It happens to me all the time. I see something, read something, hear something and a song pops in my head and bounces around in there the rest of the day. It’s not so bad if I like the song.

Yesterday it was The Tragically Hip’s “Courage” (1999). And as it bounced, I pondered that word.

Courage: The ability to do something that frightens one; strength in the face of pain or grief.

Doesn’t it just conjure up images of soldiers cresting the rim of a muddy trench? A Good Samaritan pulling a lifeless body from a burning car? A firefighter wading through a flooding street to rescue a child? An unarmed passenger tackling a terrorist on a train?

Boldness. Fearlessness. Valour. Grit.

In our own minds, none of those words apply to us, but I think they do…

  • I know a Mom who buried her daughter this week. Every day requires grit.
  • I know a woman living with cancer. She’s doing well now but there’s no cure.
    That takes pluck.
  • I know a woman whose dreams were crushed by a technicality, but who is busying herself making new dreams. That takes gumption.
  • And another caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. That requires fearlessness.

We tend to never apply that word to ourselves because in the midst of the pain, as we struggle to breathe and focus on the next day, or simply the next step in our current day, we don’t feel courageous or audacious. We feel burdened, helpless, and alone, and we balk at suggestions that we demonstrate anything resembling courage. We are merely doing what we have to do.

“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

I may only be in the middle of my life, but I’ve already had to make some difficult decisions and face uncertain days with some semblance of pluck and grace. I didn’t feel bold or brave, but looking back, it took guts and hard work and determination. Of course I didn’t live through those moments in time alone; God gave me the strength and I don’t know where I’d be now without it. Or where I am heading in the future, with it.

There’s no simple explanation for anything important any of us do. And, yeah, the human tragedy consists in the necessity of living with the consequences under pressure. – Tragically Hip

I just hope that one day, as you quietly reflect on your own life, you can see that there were indeed moments of courage in the face of adversity. Sure, we could just chalk it up to doing what we had to do in a difficult situation, but I hope that you can also graciously accept a little acknowledgement from yourself. Give yourself some credit. Smile. Quietly celebrate. (Maybe with chocolate.)

“Surprise yourself every day with your own courage.” – Denholm Elliott

Have a happy weekend!