I was recently asked if I had ever chosen a word for each year. No, I haven’t…then, I thought, why haven’t I ?? I love words!!! Well, it’s never too late to start so my word for 2013 has to be courage. That might seem an unexpected choice for someone who most people think has a lot of courage – after all, I work with teenagers. However, this apt word fits what I need to have in more situations than I would have ever expected. I’ve received more clarity of that as the months of 2012 clicked by so I’m more ready than ever to embrace some courage.
My first step is to be authentic, to accept my strengths and struggles as who I am. My newest teacher is telling me that the original definition of courage was “to speak one’s mind by telling one’s heart.” That takes guts. That takes vulnerability. I haven’t always done that, for a variety of reasons, because there’s risk involved in putting yourself out in the world. But there’s more risk in hiding yourself and your gifts. Plus, I’m quite convinced that God didn’t give me a heart for people and gifts in other areas for me to sit on them.
My second step is to keep learning about myself and accepting what I find. Part one is the easy part; part two…not so much. I’m finding that accepting takes courage. To look at something that’s maybe unfavorable and saying, ‘that’s okay’. Just because it was that way then or now, doesn’t mean it will always be that way. I can grow and change and improve. Being courageous means being willing to risk being vulnerable and open to a whole host of unknowns & potential disappointments but that’s okay. I can handle it.
My third step is to encourage. (It can’t all be about me! Yikes!) I read a few years ago that to encourage is to fill another’s heart with courage. Imagine their heart being empty of courage and in need of a fill. If I have a surplus, I can pour some of mine into them. I’m seeing that need with students and my sons who are on the verge of adulthood. It takes courage to step into an unfamiliar world where each day holds something new and challenging. I know they have within them all they’ll need to face it, but they don’t always know that. Part of my job as a courage-holder is to share it. More and more, my role is becoming just that: identifying a heart that is lacking in courage and pouring some of my confidence into them through encouraging words. It bolsters me and makes me feel more courageous too.
So may this year be a year of filling my heart and others’ hearts with courage. If you want to join me in this, I’d love to have you along for the ride.