Wednesday, June 8, 2011

If I Only Had the Nerve

Courage is the ladder on which all the other virtues mount. 
Clare Booth Luce, 1903-1987

Rare Phot...

I don't know about you, but I love the movie, The Wizard of Oz.  I think there is just something about sitting down to watch that movie that takes me back to the first time I saw it.  I was about 6 or 7 years old.  I remember loving the part where she opens the door and you move from the black and white world of Kansas (which is where I grew up) to the beautiful colors of the land of Oz.  I loved the munchkins and I loved the music.  I loved dreaming about what was "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." I loved the witch named Glenda, the good witch.  The flying monkeys I wasn't so keen on, in fact I had nightmares about them, but I loved all the rest.  I especially loved her 'coming home' to the people that she loved.

Her friends on her journey through Oz were all special and, over the years of my life, I've used their lessons frequently:  using your brain and feeling with your heart, but the one I think I've probably used the most is the lesson about courage. 

Here was a lion, a fearsome beast.  Who would have thought that a lion would ever be cowardly?  They're such beautiful, majestic animals and when they roar, who wouldn't be afraid?  But I think the lesson was that even lions have things they are afraid of.  Just like human beings, we all have things that frighten us.  There are no exceptions.  Everyone is afraid of something.  And that is OK!  We're supposed to be.  God gave us that feeling to protect ourselves.

What is not OK, is when we allow that fear to keep us from living our lives. 

Every day you either see a scar or courage. Where you dwell will define your struggle. 

Too often, we lose ourselves in the scars of our lives and we make the decision that it is better to live in the fear than to face another struggle or conflict.  What has happened to us before has left such a welt on our soul that we are not willing to risk yet another.  But when we make that choice, we are missing grow, to love, to live.

My dad has had two rounds with his foe, Colon Cancer.  This last round, a couple of years ago, caused him to have major surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation--two rounds of it.  All of us, his brothers and sisters, his wife, and his children, wanted to remove this burden from his life.  We all voiced our desire to alleviate this bitter pill.  My father's response to all of us was, "You just do what you gotta do." 

I've thought about that a lot over the past two years.  Why is it that for some of us, 'doing what we have to do' is so hard?  I think I found an answer to my question one day when I crawled into my dad's pickup to use it.  On a trip to visit my uncle in Iowa a few years ago, my son and I stopped by the birthplace of John Wayne.  It's a small little house in a tiny little southeast Iowa town.  My family are all BIG John Wayne fans so I purchased a magnet and a cap with a quote on them for my dad.  It seemed to me that they were inspirational, not only because Mr. Wayne had said them, but also because it's the way my dad has lived his life.  The quote was,
“Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.” 
I knew the cap was on the back porch.  I had seen him wear it, but I never knew what happened to the magnet until I got into the pickup that day.  I pulled down the visor to keep the sun out of my eyes and it fell into my lap.  He kept it with him as he traveled around on his daily adventures.

I think we tend to believe that courage is something you have.  That it replaces fear.  What I've learned, from the Wizard and Cowardly Lion, from John Wayne and from my dad, is that courage doesn't replace fear, courage stands alongside fear.  I've never had to face cancer, except through my dad and his brother.  Both of them showed me that  courage is something we all have.  We just have to access it, like the Cowardly Lion.  When the Wizard pinned that medal on him, he realized having courage was a choice he could make.  It's not an easy choice.  But it is a choice. 

We can choose to live in the scars of our lives and miss so many opportunities to live each day to the best of our abilities, or we can choose to take that step out of the scar and into courage.  You see, it's all in our heads.  There is a bully up there that loves to keep us in our place, cowering in the corner.  It berates us and shames us and tells us how unworthy we are of anything good.  It tells us that there is no way we can stand up to our fear and be successful.

But you know what happens when you stand up to a bully.  Nine times out of ten, they back down.  They're more afraid than you are, they just cover it with their venom.  Stand up to the bully and they run for the corner, never to come back.

Take the bully out of your  Saddle up that horse and ride, ride like the wind!  I'll finish with one more quote from John Wayne, Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday. ” 

Do you have the nerve?

Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says... I'll try again tomorrow.Mary Anne Radmacher-Hershey

No comments: