Perhaps nothing is more common in its expression and experience than fear. Whether it is concern, anxiety, alarm, or sheer terror, our fear of exposure, harm, lack, and ultimately death is probably more similar among the human population around the world and over the ages than our various and diverse joys, desires, and cravings. Fear is foundational and familiar in a world that is failing. And that is why courage is so transcendent.
Courage meets fear head-on, recognizes its reality, assesses its attributes, then responds to its crippling effects through proactive words and actions that presses fear away just as light pushes away darkness. It is a lamp that says, “I am here because it is dark, but where I am, darkness is no more.”
Fear, after all, is distinct and separate from the things that make one afraid.
The experience of fear is allowing a possible (but hence, not present) harm to create psychological harm now. It is like paying interest on a debt you may not owe. Being afraid is allowing something that may never happen tomorrow to control your thoughts and feelings today. And it is courage that prevents that present paralysis of mind and heart. Indeed, courage is all about the freedom of one’s heart.
The English word “courage” is derived from the Latin term for heart, and it helps explain why we feel courageous when our heart is full--when joy, vision, unity, and fun are present--and why fear takes root so quickly when our heart is wounded and empty. Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the presence of hope.
What is making you anxious or fearful? Why? What is your heart lacking that is allowing fear to take root? How can you show courage today?