Courage Like Daniel

With it being graduation season as well as Father’s Day and last month Mother’s Day, one topic that comes to mind is courage. It takes courage to step into the next chapter of your life after graduation. It takes courage to step up and really be the parent your kids need you to be. It takes courage to step up and be the partner that the mother/father of your children needs you to be. Some people do try to give a partial effort, and they’re partially successful, which usually ends up being more frustrating and ineffective than anything worth giving credit to.

One of the Biblical figures that often is thought of when the topic of courage comes up is Daniel. Daniel’s this larger-than-life figure who has an incredible passion for God, is called into the presence of kings and leaders regularly, and gets himself into some incredible situations including being thrown in a lion’s den (and coming out alive).

Daniel showed courage in several different ways, including being courageous enough to tell the truth when it was asked of him, to stay faithful to what he believed, to continue to practice his faith even when it was considered illegal, and to trust in God when his life was threatened. He also had one of those incredibly close relationships with God, and God revealed much to him because he listened to God. The book of Daniel also records one of the longer prayers in the Bible, a prayer of confession, humility and a seeking of forgiveness.

We may never have the relationship with God or live on the national stage that Daniel did, but that doesn’t mean that our lives are any less important, or that it takes us any more courage to live them that it did Daniel. This week I would encourage you to work your way away from fear and into courage and live your life with the power and confidence that come with being a loved Child of God.

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People of Courage

Today I’m thinking about the topic of courage. One of my favorite verses on courage is Deuteronomy 31:6:

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Sometimes the path that your life travels on calls for only one thing, and that’s courage. There’s very little that you can do other than be courageous and have faith that God goes with you and will get you through this time that you’re facing. This is how we sometimes have to deal with sudden deaths or major losses in our lives. Yes, we would be willing to take action and move in a direction, if only we knew what direction that should be and if we weren’t so blindsided by the turn of events.

It takes courage to rebuild and move on. It takes courage to try to navigate a path you can’t see. It takes courage to step into a new role or relationship. It takes courage to do what you think God is leading you to do even if it doesn’t seem possible or realistic. But if God is going with you and He won’t fail, why shouldn’t we be courageous and try?

So today I encourage you to step into life with all it’s challenges, failures, opportunities, triumphs and celebrations. Don’t let the past hold you back or limit you from dreaming and living courageously. If you’ve forgotten what it means to dream or really live, I encourage you to take steps to get out there and become that person once again, the person God’s created you to be, a person of courage.

Let’s Make Decisions

One of the most important skills we can work on are our decision making skills. One of the worst things you can do is actively choose not to make a decision, because then the decision is taken out of your hands. Which is fine if you’re OK with any decision that follows, but in most cases we really have a preference on what happens and how things develop (or which way you don’t want things to go).

In the Lent devotionals I’ve been reading they’ve been sharing some different stories from the Bible of both Jesus and others making decisions. From Adam and Eve to the prodigal son, to Jesus walking on water, speaking to the woman at the well, to the days and hours leading up to His death on the cross, there are people who make decisions in every chapter. Sometimes those decisions are good, other times they’re clearly influenced by someone or something else, and sometimes you can see that they’re wishing they could pass the decision on to someone else (or had a larger number of options they could pick from).

When you start to work on your decision making skills and you actively make more decisions, yes, you’ll make some not so great decisions. Just like many other things, it takes practice to get good at making decisions, and you’ll never always get it right, although you’ll get more right than not. But using the knowledge and experience you have as well as letting common sense, instinct and your gut help guide you, with a little courage of course, you should be able to face most situations and decisions successfully.

I think the thing to remember is that over the years some people have screwed up on their decision making in some rather serious ways and yes, some people have died as a result, but the vast majority of people are able to recover from even some epically large poor decisions. You’re never out until you’re dead, so as long as you’re still here and breathing you’ve got the time to fix your mistakes and make better decisions.

When you’re making the decisions, you’re in control of your life, and that means that even when life seems to be going out of control or you’re limited as to how much control you have, those decisions are what give you back at least some of your power. What decisions will you make today?

Personal (Purim) Victories

Today the Jewish communities are celebrating Purim. Purim is an interesting spiritual celebration, because it’s one of the few that the story behind it crosses more than the usual spiritual lines (to all who read the Old Testament in the Bible). In case you forget, it’s the story of Esther, and how she becomes queen and is able to plead to the king to save her life and the life of her people (the Jews). If you haven’t read it [lately], I’d encourage you to check it out here.

Before you head off because you think this might be a spiritual post, no, I’m not actually planning to talk about Purim or the story of Esther. Because while it is a faith-based story, the story is one that many of us can identify with and is really a hero/heroine story that countless people read each day. One with true love, respect, victory, the defeat of a villain, and a happily ever after. It’s also a rags to riches story, and one that shows more bravery in a few short chapters than most of us will ever show in our entire lives.

So if this isn’t a spiritual post, what is it? It’s a reminder to myself and you that anything can happen to anyone. Anyone can get lucky. Anyone can totally transform their life from the bottom to a much better life. Anyone can find the courage to do the right thing. Anyone can make the world a better place. Anyone can be a leader. Anyone can work to create a happy ending.

If the future is that bright, why are people struggling? Some struggle because they don’t find the courage to try. Some refuse the help others are offering. Some get paralyzed by all the options and can’t pick one. Some don’t believe in themselves. Some don’t get out there and look for answers or do the work to get there.

What about you? How does your future look and what are you doing to make it better?

Reality Reflection: Courage

Yesterday was International Women’s Day. You may have seen stories featuring women, the Google doodle celebrated women, you probably saw posts on social media and read emails celebrating and honoring women as well. I wasn’t sure I was going to write a post about International Women’s Day, or even what I would write about until I got an unrelated email today that really spoke to me. The topic of the email was on one of those simple-but-complicated topics: courage.

If I’m honest I think it takes courage for anyone to really live in this day and age. As much as many parts of the world have really started to embrace the many differences each of us have, there are still people who have very narrow opinions and beliefs of the world and the people in it and how we’re supposed to live. Unfortunately many of those people seem to be very vocal about what’s right and wrong in their opinion and make the world dangerous for people to live in. As a result it takes courage to reach for and try to live with the freedom that is a right and desire that we all have. Living with freedom isn’t about not having rules, they help us keep order and give us some guidance on sharing space together, just about learning to accept, change and adapt as our world changes.

Back to the topic of courage, it’s about making life about more than us vs. them, it’s about learning to make life as win-win-win as possible, it’s about learning who you are, it’s about making decisions to do right in the world, it’s about being confident in the difference you can make in the world. It’s also about having some measure of faith in the others that we share the world with, that there are enough of us trying to do the right thing that we will outpace and outlive those who live to hurt others.

The good news is there’s no rule about when you’re allowed to choose courage, when you have to change, or what courage looks like to you. Courage is about being brave enough to face the world as you are, ask for help when you need it, and accept others as they are-a work in progress (just like you). Today I would encourage you to live with courage, treat others with courage, make decisions with courage, celebrate the women you know who have lived with courage, and celebrate the women whose courage have helped us get to where we are now. Who are the courageous women you’re celebrating?

Victory is a Journey

For the past few years I’ve been following the story of two twin boys who were joined at the head and separated in a very difficult and complex surgery in October of 2016. It was a trial for them, their parents and their brother, and we only got a tiny glimpse into all of it. Today I saw that an update had been posted on their story and it spoke to me about this new year we’ve entered, with both words of encouragement and wisdom.

The first thing that spoke to me was the fact that they’re both still alive, developing and growing, which is really a miracle. It’s also a miracle that we’ve made it to 2019 without killing everyone off or doing more damage to our world than we could ever try to fix.

Second, the one thing the parents said repeatedly was that some things just take time. Things weren’t perfect the moment the surgery was done, it’s been years and they’re still dealing with setbacks and challenges. That said, they can see the growth and improvements that the boys are making. We expect things to be so instant in this day and age, but that’s just not always the case.

Finally, the parents are thankful to have this time with their boys. It was a do-or-die surgery, 80% of those joined at the head die by age 2. So the only choice the parents had was to pray for a miracle, and a miracle they got. We can choose to leave this life, but I have so much more hope for the future than I am discouraged by the past.

The bottom line is I hope that in 2019 we’ve gotten through the absolute worst and only have some more bumps to contend with. I’m tired of always fighting the most extreme of uphill battles and would like to see a year in which more things go my way and your way, more things go the way of more people. I don’t expect easy or perfect all the time, but some less exhausting wins would be nice. I’m hoping for a year that shows we’ve finally turned the curve, what about you?

Hope for 2019

The new year is just a few hours away and you may be one of the many who are celebrating the end of 2018. It’s not wrong to celebrate being done with something that was less than awesome, but it’s better to celebrate what’s ahead. You should never celebrate what’s done (and not great) with the enthusiasm, longevity or passion that you celebrate what’s yet to come or the victories you’ve achieved.

So I’m going to celebrate what’s ahead, the new possibilities that are coming in 2019, the opportunities to change and grow, the people I will meet, the days to enjoy the world, the transformations of nature, the successes in business and relationships, the victories I will help bring about, the relationships I help build, the ways that humanity gets to grow, and the ways we get to support each other.

Every day brings with it choices we have to make. I would hope that you choose to enter into 2019 with hope, joy, confidence and an attitude ready to conquer whatever comes your way. To make 2019 a year that you lived and loved and dreamed to your fullest. To enjoy 2019 with new friends and old. To being a year of laughing more.

“Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.” Kevyn Aucoin