Home > Healing Journey, Lessons in School > Courage is not the absence of fear

Courage is not the absence of fear

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“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear” – Nelson Mandela

This past week, I have attended many social events for Wycliffe’s orientation and there is indeed much to write about. An incredible concert by Martyn Joseph, whose music is prophetic and pastoral; and a sense of homecoming as it turned out to be a meeting place for all sorts of longtime friends from various places that I have travelled over the years. A bbq and chance to reunite with alumni who I know, students from last year and to meet some of my cohort. Over the weekend, we went on a retreat – and there are many happy moments that I am recalling to mind – especially the campfire singing and drama last night that had me in pain for laughing so darn hard. It’s been truly wonderful and I’m very thankful for a wonderful few days.

But – I am an introvert who has lived the extraverted life the past few days. I welcomed the opportunity to take my cat outside on a leash with one of my textbooks and immerse myself in reading. When one friend heard about my weekend, her response was “Elizabeth, I am so proud of you.” I love coffee or walking dates. The intimate conversation between two friends. I can sometimes chat more than my extraverted friends. Introversion is not equivalent to shyness necessarily. I am often most confident when I am leading events with lots of people – my role is defined, I’ve thought about how the event is going to go, and largely, I am prepared and am not met with too many surprises. Yet, if I attend an event with lots of people – whether I know them or not – it is usually true that a lot of anxiety has been present before I get there. The conversation is not predictable and I am not in my element. I back out of events due to the fear I feel. My cave with my cat, books and cds are far more ‘safe’ than a weekend full of people I don’t know and social encounters.

I am reminded once again that courage is not the absence of fear. I met everyone on this retreat – students, faculty, staff, spouses. I introduced myself if I didn’t know them, I pushed myself to chat with people I had not met instead of sticking with the comfortable person I found. I also took care of the kids during some of the time, and I have to say – that provided a much needed haven from the anxiety-provoking chatter. And it was awesome! Awesome people with awesome gifts and stories. I loved it – it was hard for me, but I was happy that I had each conversation. I feel connected with the various people in a way that I hadn’t through orientation sessions. I’m ready to start classes and feel apart of the community!

There was one particular conversation that I would not have had if I had let the fear overtake me. I felt God lead me to a table of people I had not conversed with yet. I reluctantly sat down and peered over to the other tables full of people I already had met and wondered why I had just dived into the deep-end. Someone else joined our table and sat across from me. Our conversation led to opportunities to explore my giftings and calling in ways that I had not anticipated. Things are shifting and happening fast – and it’s exciting.

Courage is not the absence of fear – but the ability to feel the fear and do it anyways. I’m thankful for a God who pushes me out of my comfort zone to blessings that do what I naturally would hesitate to do. There is joy on the other side of courage.

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  1. john sullivan
    September 8, 2014 at 4:28 am

    Bravo Elizabeth, you are on your way!

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