This post started out as a fluffy little feel good piece about courage and then God rocked my world and convicted me of my pettiness in an earth shaking way. That cute little feel good writing has been relegated to the “shallow” pile now. Maybe I’ll pull it back out NEVER. As always, these “opportunities for growth” come with some heartbreak, thank You Lord for breaking my heart today. So what did God reveal to me? That I know absolutely nothing about courage. Living in my sweet, safe, middle class, white, conservative Christian, comfy world, when has my courage ever been tested? I am the queen of people pleasing. People like me, I’m just like you, the girl next door, so what’s not to like? Sure, I’ve had loss in my life, people tend to die around me, but hasn’t everybody experienced death at some point? Everyone has some tragedy they can speak of. I’m a single mom…big whoop, isn’t half the country? I’ve never had to face the really scary stuff. Two of my biggest fears are that people won’t like me or that I might have to be alone for awhile, for goodness sakes! I have no fear of dying for, or even being beaten for, who I am or what I believe; I don’t worry about where my next meal will come from; I’ve never worried that my children would starve to death or die of some treatable illness because I didn’t have access to medicine or clean water. Those are situations that take courage. I worry that my kids might not like the chicken dish I’m fixing for dinner, or that somebody might get upset about something I write, or that I might have missed my hair appointment. Bah! What do I know of courage? What do I have to fear, really? The quote, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself” (FDR) comes to mind. For the most part, we Americans manufacture our own fear and sell it on TV. We pipe it into our homes and then feed it with hate until it grows so big that it spills out into our streets. Why do we do this? Are we creating fear so we can practice courage? Making up things to be afraid of so that we can feel good about standing up to them? So we can feel brave? Stop it! Just stop it! Let’s be grateful that we have so much to be thankful for, let’s stop perpetuating the fear and hatred cycle and use that energy to do something to help those who really are suffering in the world, who actually have a real need for courage. Our manufactured fear, the fear we make up in our own minds, has a life of its own, it is devastating, not only to the individual, but to the world, as the waves of it ripple outward. This kind of fear is not from God, it is an act of free choice, it is a part of our ego that we should make every attempt to squash!
God made us all different and beautiful, we are his masterpieces, and yet we act like spoiled little children. We all walk around in our own little worlds, getting all worked up about insignificant things and being offended that we’re not respected because we’re white or black or brown or gay or straight or Christian or Muslim or Jew or female or male or, or…whatever! We don’t like this one because he’s a different color, a different religion, from a different country, a member of a different political party or that one because he has a different sexual orientation, is fat, is too skinny, or “thinks he’s better than me.” We don’t want our kids associating with that kid because he’s….you fill in the blank. Waahhh! How about, “Thank you for that breath, God, thank you for my life,” no matter how bad it may look compared to the guy next door? How about, “Thank you, God that I have food to eat,” even if it’s not exactly tasty? How about, “Thank you God that my children won’t starve to death today?” How about, “Thank you God, that I have a place to sleep, clothing, friends?” How about, “Thank you God for my skin, my eyes, my ears, my nose, my feet, my hands?” And if I’m missing some of those parts, how about, “Thank you God for all the other parts that I do have?” How about, well…gratitude? Let’s feed that through our television sets and our Facebook feeds.
The hippies had it right, you know, all we need is love. Love destroys fear. Love is a partner to kindness and generosity and peace. God is love. Maybe if we stopped creating fear and started using that energy to show God’s love to others we wouldn’t have anything to truly fear anymore. What if we loved people because their differences? Seeing the beauty in the difference and being awed that God could come up with such variety in the way we look, act, and react? What if we acknowledged and loved the soul that is within a person instead of seeing the humanness that gets in the way? Before you roll your eyes and dismiss me as a “bleeding heart, Oprah loving, liberal,” consider Jesus. What would He do? Perpetuate fear? Show hostility toward others? Hate people because of their color or religion or party affiliation or who they loved? Check yourself. What were the two commandments that He said were the greatest? Love God and love others. (Luke 10:27). He didn’t say, “Love only your neighbors who are just like you.” There is no place for fear, hatred or unkindness in the life of someone who follows Jesus.
So, back to courage…I have none, I need none at this point in my life, my fear has been manufactured in my own mind….I choose not to accept fear, I choose to be grateful, and I choose to love. What do you choose?