Courage \ˈkər-ij, ˈkə-rij\ n. 1. The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery; valor. 2. Obsolete. Heart; mind; disposition. Synonyms: courage, mettle, fortitude, resolution, tenacity, backbone, guts. These nouns denote qualities of mind or spirit that enable a person to be steadfast in meeting danger or adversity. Courage suggest a reserve of moral strength on which one may draw in time of emergency. [New American Heritage Dictionary]
The movie, “The Help” is set in Jackson, Mississippi during the civil right’s movement. It is here that we find Abileen Clark, a woman of color, a white woman’s maid, born on a plantation in 1911, riding in the back of buses, raising white children who will one day be her boss, afraid of Jim Crowe’s laws, respectful of her white employers even when they don’t deserve it – Learning to love her enemies.
Then one day a young, white, aspiring writer comes to Abileen asking for her help. Skeeter wants to write a book from the perspective of “the help” and a story about courage, truth and love is born.
As Abileen waivers in making her decision to tell her story or to remain silent she sits in a church pew as a preacher delivers a sermon that speaks right into her life.
“…Moses answers, ‘Oh my Lord, I am not eloquent. I am slow of speech and tongue.’ You see Courage isn’t just about being brave. Courage is daring to do what is right in spite of the weakness of our flesh. And God tells us, commands us, compels us to love. Amen? [Amen.] See love, as exemplified by our Lord Jesus Christ is to be prepared to put yourself in harms way for your fellow man. And by your fellow man I mean: your brother, your sister, your neighbor, your friend and your enemy. If you can love your enemy you already have the victory…” [Preacher Green, "The Help"]
Needless to say Abi decides to help Skeeter with her story.
I will admit right out of the gate that I do not know what it means to be courageous in the face of physical harm (unless you count child birth) or death. I do not know what it means to put my physical life on the line for another human being (again unless you count child birth). BUT I do know what it is to stand toe-to-toe with generational demons, misguided figures of authority, houses filled with lies and to surrender my life on behalf of another.
I know what it is to have an assassin after my heart, I know what it is to have liars spin tales that others want to believe, and I know what it means to watch a metaphorical cross burn. I know what it is to be led astray, beg forgiveness and face the truth of the hard work of the “ministry of reconciliation.”
I know what it is to bring your heart to a shepherd and to have that heart trampled all over the place, things told in confidence revealed without permission. I know what it is to be over-analyzed. I know what it is to be shunned, excommunicated and considered gangrene.
“In just ten minutes the only life I’d known was done. God says we need to love our enemies, that hard to do. But it can start by telling the truth. No one had ever asked me what it feel like to be me. Once I told the truth about that I felt free.” [Abileen, "The Help"]
Courage is being willing to stand firm in the truth of Jesus Christ even if you are going to look stupid, be labeled extreme, radical or fake. Courage isn’t good for business – it combats fraud, stands with the poor, orphaned, widowed, and brokenhearted.
Courage is being willing to come alongside someone who is hurt, denying or worse AND being able to trust Jesus to reshape their life and the hurt. It’s being silent. Not having to have a say or a need to be heard, or to fix what is “broken,” but trusting Jesus to have His way. Courage is being able to discern timing, anger and the voice of God:
“He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” [Proverbs 17:27]
Courage is knowing when to face the truth of your past and apologize. Courage is being willing to face the truth of your present and not cycle life by doing it the way it’s always been done. Courage is asking questions – but being willing to hear the answers not just refute the words given.
So I am asking… if you are unable to stand firm against: the voices of flesh that condemn your past and present, against the lies that you see, schemes of the enemy or injustice, why not?
God does not tolerate injustice so why do we? Why don’t we call out family bullying, church bullying, etc. Why don’t we REFUSE to compromise when generational sin seeks to take out our kids? our marriages? our families? Why do we let family crap destroy our hearts and our children’s? Why do we allow cycles of dysfunction all in the name of honor, blood and respect?
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. Wait for the LORD ; Be strong and let your heart take courage ; Yes, wait for the LORD.” [Psalm 27:13-14]
Why do you let them steal your courage?
Why do you let the words, the voices, the expectations, the doubts, the fear, the worry, the bullying, the dysfunction – why do you let these things, these people, these arrows of Satan – why do you let them steal your courage?
Who told you that you aren’t allowed a backbone?
If you struggle with standing firm, losing heart, and having courage – consider praying scripture. I have a complete post of verses here that might be helpful.
Interested in more articles on being brave?
Just Call Me the Christian Leper
The Anatomy of An Apology
I am Not Powerless
It Feels Like Church
A Reverse Resume
i met an orphan
they will know we are Christians by our…
I Doubted & She Cried
A Straight Road
A complete listing of the posts in this series: