I have shared that faith takes practice. So with courage. It is said courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to do something in spite of fear. As with faith, courage starts small.
As a young child, I was timid, an introvert who did not like greeting visitors. I wonder if mama gave me a Chinese name which means quiet because I was not talkative. I remember my first declamation contest in elementary. It was ‘O Captain, my Captain.’ Whew! It was a nerve-racking experience. I did not win. More than the result, I remember the gruelling process of practicing for it… more than just memory effort but the process to overcome fear… stage-fright in short.
In high school, there were more opportunities to practice how to be brave. More than just stage fright, I had to overcome the awkward stage of adolescence. I was not a ‘friendly’ person. I was known to be a ‘Snobera.’ I find it awkward to greet people not close to me. It was hard for me to ‘give a nod’ or smile at classmates or batch mates in the hallway. It took me a long journey into adulthood for me to learn to smile at strangers.
Fast forward to being a wife, I often had to practice courage – courage to read what Andrew said to me in his text or email. Why so? I was afraid to read or know because I was afraid I would not like what I read, I was afraid I might not be able to control myself – i would not stay silent so the argument would end. Many times, I just erased his messages without reading. No harm no foul. What I don’t know won’t hurt me. So I practiced – small steps at a time. I read what he sent me. I practiced not replying his text. I practiced to bear the pain – reading what I did not like to hear… practice accepting criticism even when I thought I was right.
Then came opportunities to speak out for what is right. Even as simple as pointing the proper queue to people who did not know how to queue. Then on to speak for people who could not speak for themselves… sometimes at the expense of being criticised or incurring the ire of the opponents.
So with speaking out for my faith takes practice in courage. I am often in my comfort zone. I shared my faith and give my testimonies with Christian friends, with people of the same beliefs. Not much courage needed. Last night I was put in the hot seat for standing firm on my belief. I was surprised that my ‘simple’ statement of truth offended a stranger. In the end, it took me courage to write two words to end the argument. ‘Yes, mam.’ I learned that it is more than courage. It is a lesson in humility… to give up the right to defend myself… to curb the urge to prove that I am right by eloquence… to take the criticism hurled at me without taking offence because I know what I believe. I do not need to strive and argue to the last breath. I learned that it takes humility in courage to let go.
How does God want us to be brave? It is courage that depends on God and not on myself.
God said to Joshua: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (1:9)
What does he want us to do? Courage to do what is right. Courage to stand alone to do what is right. Courage to stand alone to speak what is right. What is right? Right is when the poor is helped. Right is when the weak is strengthened. Right is when justice is served to the oppressed. Right is when truth is proclaimed. Right is when God is pleased because man obeys His command.
God said to Joshua: “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. (1:7)