Wonderful and amazing things can happen, when we are willing to have courage and live into our truth. Having courage is not easy. Brené Brown teaches that the word courage comes from the French word coeur which means heart. It takes a lot of heart to have courage. The heart resides in the center of the body. Our blood flows from the heart to every limb and organ, thereby enabling the body to function. We need the heart to function and, in order to have courage to act, our heart has to be ready and on-board.
Leaving the old behind
When a new aspect of life calls to us, we have to be ready to lose things.
- We may lose the approval of others, including our family of origin. When we’ve grown up in a system which expects us to stay as we’ve always been…it takes heart to step away from that expectation. If we change religions, come out as gay or transgender, or just deny that we stand for the same values as our families, that is a huge change and we can experience loss.
- We may lose old friends when we outgrow the relationship or change so much that we can no longer walk in step with them. I’ve seen people get sober and have to leave their “playgrounds and playthings” behind. Although they made new friends, there is still a lot of grief about leaving old friends behind.
- We may lose our standing in society. We may face derision, scorn and contempt. By falling back on our courage and being led by our hearts we can continue to move forward.
Getting the Courage to Leave the Old Behind
Let’s face it, it’s not easy. We potentially have much to lose in going forward. The question we really need to ask ourselves is, “What will we lose if we don’t go forward?” I had a friend who was married to a man but knew in her heart that she was homosexual. She knew she had to leave her husband and pursue her truth while sitting on an airplane reading a story in Oprah Magazine. She had the courage to step into her truth, which meant leaving behind a life of comfort and predictability. Her eyes were opened and she followed her heart.
Sometimes the decision to change and enter a new life happens in a moment. We read a magazine, we get a sign, we have a conviction of the heart. Other times, it happens slowly and quietly until we can no longer deny who and what we are.
Once we make the decision to move toward our higher truth – every aspect of life conspires to help us. There’s an Islamic hadith qudsi, “O My servant! If you take one step toward Me, I take ten toward you.” This is also an Indian proverb, often mentioned at Christian churches although not a biblical quotation. The underlying truth is the same: when we live into our highest truth and have the courage to do so, our lives transform.
Many years ago, I desired to be a singer-songwriter in Nashville, Tennessee. There was only one small problem: I didn’t play an instrument and wasn’t a great singer. My parents were not aligned with this plan. They wanted me to become a life insurance saleswoman or maybe a teacher, but a musician? They didn’t have the frame of reference for it. Since they saw my passion, they didn’t stop me from pursuing my dream. As you know, I made a living as a musician for many years until called to serve as a rabbi. If you want to read about how I found courage to move to Nashville, I tell the story here:
If you have 5 minutes, you can also listen to the Gerry Story on the podcast page. I will get back to the podcasts, by the way. There’s a huge learning curve to podcasts and I’m still learning but sit tight as more will be forthcoming! But I digress…back to Courage!
How do you find the courage to move forward?
Courage truly comes from conviction of the heart. (Great song by Kenny Loggins, by the way! https://youtu.be/aGlh4G6xFGA)
Conviction is faith in action and is followed by the assurance that one is doing the right thing. Conviction aligns with the heart even if the outside world is seemingly against you. When you move forward, the world moves with you. I am a huge proponent of prayer. I could not have made any major decisions without taking the time to pray and ask for the faith to move forward. Conviction is an inner clarity which cannot be denied. What happens next becomes the great adventure of which life is made…
The Courage to not be limited:
Tom Dempsey was born without toes on his right foot but had a dream to be a kicker for an NFL football team. His family encouraged him and he got to live his dream. He ended up making NFL history by kicking a sixty-three yard field goal for the New Orleans Saints in 1970 to win against the Detroit Lions. Dempsey, who passed away from complications of coronavirus in April, remains an example of how the human spirit can triumph over physical limitation. His determination and desire allowed him to overcome setbacks and achieve his dream. If he can do it, you can do it as well.
Let me know if you have a dream you’ve followed. If you have a conviction you are just now becoming aware of and need to find your inner courage, I want to know if this blog post helped give you courage.