▪️WAITING

How long must I wait?

Last week I shared that after having thoroughly embraced that courage is hard to describe, seems to be subjective, and is a force unto its own, I’m confident in this…a waiting heart conceives courage. When I embarked on this journey to explore courage and all its attributes, early this year, I found myself unsettled by one thing. I had settled in and settled down on a list of attributes I had sourced from an article in Psychology Today. The author sites six different attributes that make courage what it is, and helps us define it with examples. Sure, this is not an exhaustive list, it is however the one that addresses my deep belief that courage is indeed a virtue. This is the courage I was chasing. The virtue.

Yet, with all my pondering and reflection these six attributes continued to fall short. There was something missing. Yet, I couldn’t put my finger on it until several weeks ago.

Late this spring as I leashed my terriers for their afternoon stroll down our street I spotted a little mess that had moved in and settled down in the crux of the flood lights that hang above my garage. Something about that little mess called my attention. I wasn’t aware of its meaning at first, it needed unfolding. The days turned to weeks and as I kept my eye on the little mess it began to teach me.

The first lesson was the significance of a number. I’m not proposing that I adopt numerology as a religion or science, but six attributes of courage, SIX, that’s just not a number worthy of courage. Now seven, that’s a good number if ever there was one.

Now, if there was a missing attribute from the list, what would that be?

Then one day, as I walked toward the little mess, gently rolling onto the tip of my toes just hoping to get a closer peak, it occurred to me.

Waiting. Waiting is the seventh attribute of courage.

Waiting, is what I saw in that little mess above my garage. In 5th grade I had the opportunity to select a short elective class to take as a reward for my good grades. I remember it fondly, my selection, a short course entitled “Bird Watching.” That’s how I knew it was a couple of Mourning Doves who occupied the little mess above my garage. They are accustomed to waiting. Mourning Doves are some of the most reproductive birds in North America which means, they wait a lot.

I thought long and hard about waiting in a mess and how that takes courage. The more I thought, the more I knew that this was a good lesson to learn. When we’re tethered to a mess, we must allow courage to be conceived, to come alive, to give way to hope. That’s what I spotted as I peaked into that little mess and stared those doves in the eyes, hope. When we are forced to wait and we watch a life we want to engage pass us by, knowing we cannot leave our little mess until the waiting is over, we must have the courage to hope. I knew that look, that look of waiting, and I reflected on some lessons I’ve learned during seasons of waiting.

Waiting, the seventh attribute of courage, not only makes the list complete, it also completes the cycle. It is the attribute that conceives all others, the origin. It is the beginning of courage and it lives deep in our hearts.

Next week I hope to share my first resource on waiting with you. Until, then my friend, be strong and courageous.

▪️WAITING

Waiting.

After thoroughly embracing that courage is hard to describe, seems to be subjective, and is a force unto its own, I’m confident in this one thing, this one thing alone, a waiting heart conceives courage.

This is timely for me as a long season of waiting will finally reach its gestation by the time this post is shared. I’ll be adding WAITING to our list of attributes as a result. If courage is the virtue that supports all other virtues, then WAITING is the attribute that supports all the other attributes.

I’ll be sharing some scripture with you, personal reflections, and resources to examine your waiting, but until then I leave you with the lyrics to a song, an anthem of sorts, that have carried me through my current season of waiting. I hope they bless you.

I’m with you friend, cultivating courage, holding onto hope.

▪️PURSUE YOUR PASSION

Being bored is an offense against life itself.

If you don’t think that it matters if you ever pursue your passion pause and imagine a world where Steve Jobs never tried to give his vision for technology life. Or if Leonardo DiVinci never painted the Mona Lisa, or Michael Phelps didn’t swim – image a world without passion. If you’re not living life doing the things you’re passionate about then you are bored – and boredom is contagious, and not in a good way. Do you want to contribute to global boredom?

Being bored is an offense against life itself. Why you ask? Because passion breeds inspiration, and we all need inspiration. It’s like once ignited it burns like a trail of gunpowder from human to human just waiting to reach a point of explosion. We need you to be a part of that sequence.

I’m not going to lay the heavy burden of being the spark that sets the chain reaction ablaze, but certainly you can do your part. So now that summer is in full swing I ask you this, “what are YOU, yes YOU, going to do that you’re passionate about over the next few months?” It doesn’t have to be fancy, think accessible.

Like to bake? Do it more, give it away, or try to raise your baking game a bit. Scrapbook? Set time aside, invite some friends, share your memories. Sports? Adventure? You name it – but also, do it! Let this be a renewed commitment to being a whole, alive human, one who has dimension and uniqueness. Take one small step out of drudgery and responsibility to reconnect to a freer part of yourself. It takes courage to let go.

We all need to let go, get off the dot of our life on occasion, so we can reenter with a renewed energy to live well. When we see each other in action, we stir up the flame of inspiration, and who knows what might happen it we all get just a little inspired.

Will you take a step in the direction of your passion today?

▪️PICK YOUR BATTLES

The real growth was learning to stand up for myself.

We had already talked for hours, and sometimes that’s what it takes, hours. Hours to get to the heart of a matter. We’d shared our stories, bruised and battered as they were, yet on the mend. The conversation unboxed some old dusty memories of the “me” I used to be, broken. Broken in so many ways.

Emotionally broken, mentally broken, and spiritually broken. Recently these types of conversations have unearthed some old narratives that I used to allow to replay and control my life, set on repeat like tracks on a broken record. These narratives defined who I was by others, and who I saw myself to be. I’ve spent years rewriting these narratives, inserting more and more truth, adding objectivity and grace.

And yet with all that work I still find there are old silent narratives that live inside of me just waiting to be discovered in conversations like these. But now they serve a different purpose. Where they once bound me to a life of pain and abuse, they can now be used to unlock cell doors for others. While I had longed for someone to fight my battles for me, the real growth was learning to stand up for myself. I needed to endure the process of learning to set protective boundaries. It takes courage to set boundaries.

Its hard to loving yourself and trust yourself in the places where you have a dent in your courage. A beat up spot that keeps you from wholeness, health, and freedom. This is a place of self doubt. I had almost forgotten how far I’d come until my conversation today. The journey has been long and hard, but worth it. After waiting in this place for years, just hoping someone might secretly come and save me, I’m glad I finally got tired of waiting.

If you live on a pendulum that swings from the poles of discouragement to encouragement on a regular basis, you need to take the leap yourself. Disrupt the cycle. The decision to stop waiting is a leap, the action that follows is a step. Feeling your way to a middle ground begins by taking a small step that requires courage. We all have different battles to fight, but they all require the same thing – just a little bit of courage.

Will you take a small step today?

I hope so, you can do it, you are strong and courageous,

 

▪️PAIN HAS A PURPOSE

It’s time to realign and push the pain out of my life.

Last night while I should have been soundly asleep, instead I was deciding, “I’ve got to deal with this pain.” The acute cutting pain I’ve allowed to hang around for the last two years. Yes, you read it correctly, TWO YEARS. I wonder how many wrinkles I’ve added to my face by carrying this pain with me unnecessarily? Pain has the remarkable ability to wear us out, down, and into the ground if we don’t deal with it. Pain is a problem. And like all other problems, the only way to solve it is to work through it until we reach its source, and change something.

Pain is a boisterous indicator that something needs to change. For the last two years I have been holding a screaming pain in my right shoulder. My mobility has drastically diminished. With every lift of my arm I wince, hence the new wrinkles. Because I’ve dealt with chronic pain for most of my adult life – I let it move in, when I assumed it was just visiting like the pain I’d experienced in the past.

I wonder how often we assume our problems are visitors when they have every intention of moving in, taking ground, and lording over us? It’s a good thing I had no idea how long “this” problem would hang around, that in itself has been a necessary grace. I’m not oblivious to the fact that it seems I human in a different order than the vast majority of my peers.

I have a tendency to process life in a different order than most of my peers.First I emotion, second I analyze, third I deal with the matter, literally the physical matter. I spend so much time on the interior of things that I sometimes never quite get the surface to look the way it should. Humans love what’s on the surface, that’s what they see. The reality is, the problem is both on the surface and in the deep. Working through a problem all the way is exhausting. No matter which end you start with. It’s taken so long to work through this problem and now I’m exhausted. This is what I’ve learned. No one is courageous when they’re exhausted.

Last night however, I decided it’s time to deal with my physical pain. Since I have scoliosis I have a good idea where and how to get some relief. Even though the pain is in my shoulder area, I’m likely feeling the end of a pinched nerve. The source of the pain – like most pain – it is buried deep within my body, near my spine. The stress of my trial had tightened all my muscles. Their constriction pulling my spine out of alignment allowing it to rest on a nerve.

When life hits you hard you can get knocked clear out of alignment. When that happens you may just find an exposed nerve somewhere down deep at the source of your pain. I’ve felt – and healed – I’ve analyzed – and accepted… now it’s time to realign and push the pain out of my life.

If you’re in pain…emotional, physical, or even mental – don’t let it move in and take over, courageously discover what it’s screaming at you and take steps to live healed, however that looks to you. Take a courageous baby step.

I know it’s hard, but you can do it,

▪️FACE YOUR FEAR

There we were, finally at the top.

I’ve never felt anything like it before. We had completed our arduous climb up the hundreds of stairs only minutes ago. A slow creep upward in the hot sun. The mass of us dressed in all variety of aquatic wear, sunscreen, and personal misc… tats, jewelry, and chlorine soaked body hair. It’s the environment where everyone fights complaining yet we all feel the same, hot, tired, and impatient. The climb must be worth the pain.

I was there just to be with her. My fearless, adventurous, mini me. She’s the only one in our family who likes amusement parks and all their terror. I’m not a fan, but I do it for her. I’ll fight through just about any discomfort for my kids.

There we were, finally at the top. She was nearly two feet shorter than I, not able to see what was ahead. Personally, I had been analyzing our future adventure for several minutes. Pondering my own comfort level. Was this even safe? Is it just me or do you also wonder at the science behind the safety of amusement rides on occasion? Surely, there must be some law of physics or something that guarantees that we won’t flip off that raft we were about to climb into? That’s exactly where my mind had been just before I felt it.

The overwhelming sensation of fear, that’s what it was. As soon as we were cued in the rider line, a wave of fear rushed over me. Oddly though, I wasn’t the source. It was my mini. Her fear was so intense that it was uncontainable. I became a drenched bystander. When fear reaches this level it must be addressed. It takes courage to address our fears.

As I looked at her flushed little tween-aged face I knew she needed a way out of the fear. “Let’s not do this,” and with an extended hand I led her down the hundreds of stairs we had just ascended. No shame allowed.

Since fear is the emotion we feel when our deepest sense of security is challenged it’s important we do not judge or shame. As much as we would all love to say that we are wholeheartedly anchored in the security and protection of God (for Christians of course) we all experience drift. Some drift in the direction of popularity, some finances, some success. The important reality we need to face is that drift happens, and when it hits, we all need people who can offer a way to safety.

When fear feels like a tsunami who to you turn to for help?

You need your people to be strong and courageous,

▪️DON'T QUIT

There I was fixing my gaze on the early rising sun as it cast a shadow of a million diamonds across the sea in front of me. Our yogi modeled a tree pose, I think. I’m not really sure what I looked like, all I knew is that I had to fight through the wobbling. My leg struggled to find balance beneath me. I had to find stability. I admire stability.

I’m blessed to be a part of a church where Joyce Meyer, almost annually, preaches. There was an occasion several years ago when she was teaching on leadership. She remarked that she had only written one book on leadership, this book is now 20 years old. It’s one of the few books of hers that I own. She spends a considerable number of words on the topic of stability and how it relates to capability. I’ve revisited these words a time or two. There’s nothing inside of me that feels stable right now. I’m just being real. It takes courage to be real.

When we’re faced with a season where hard resides in every direction it’s easy to lose our stability. Sure, usually we can find one pocket of life to retreat to when other areas are tough, yet when all the pockets appear to be sew closed we might panic. I’ve been in this place a lot lately. I think that explains the extra long showers, binge movie watching, and mid day dog walks. I’m simply trying to stay stable. I’m taking breaks.

Oddly, I’ve noticed something recently, somehow I’ve developed the ability to persevere through a 3 step decorative paining process on a piece of furniture-which would have eluded me in the past. Yet, today’s problems have me threatening to quit, almost daily. I guess that means that learning to persevere, not quitting, is ongoing. There will always be new tests that require us to cultivate more courage in this area.

Maybe Joyce is right, stability does release capability. I’m now stable enough to get through the tedious 3 step painting process – like a pro. I’ve become capable for the painting task. Today’s trial however, I shouldn’t expect to be a cake walk. I haven’t had to persevere through anything like this before. Which brings me back to my wobble.

When I’m wobbling to the point of falling over, completely losing my balance and stability, it’s time to take a break. Taking a break isn’t quitting. It’s the courage to be real and say, “I can’t take any more…right now.” If you’re in a place like me where you want to quit because the going is tough, I’m here to say the tough don’t always get going, sometimes they take breaks. If you need a break today, I hope you take one for yourself, your future self depends on it.

As always, be strong and courageous,