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Courage looks a lot like Jaelene Daniels.
Have you heard of her? She's a professional soccer player for the North Carolina Courage. She refused to wear a pride-themed jersey, meaning she had to sit out during a soccer match last week.
It is something she's done before. NC Courage's defender made the news in 2017 after she declined to play on the women's national team, citing her Christian faith in opposition to wearing a rainbow-themed jersey.
Can you imagine possessing that kind of grit? In the face of that kind of heat? If it were us, would we wither? Or would we stand firm?
Don't we need that trait now more than ever? To be people well-practiced in the art of courage? C.S. Lewis said, "Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality."
More than that, there are at least two types of courage: physical and moral. Physical courage is bravery in the face of physical pain, hardship, even death, or the threat of death. In contrast, moral courage is the ability to act rightly in the face of widespread opposition, shame, scandal, discouragement, or personal loss.
Who doesn't love the idea of living courageously? It sounds great in theory. But, to get there, don't we often play chicken with fear?
As R.C. Sproul once said, "We are fragile mortals, given to fears of every sort. We have a built-in insecurity that no amount of whistling in the dark can mollify. We seek assurance concerning the things that frighten us the most.
"The prohibition uttered more frequently than any other by our Lord is the command, 'Fear not.' He said this so often to His disciples and others that it almost sounded like a greeting. Where most people greet others by saying "Hi" or "Hello," the first words of Jesus very often were 'Fear not.'"
That rings true. Today's world feels upside down. It is a scary place. And yet God in the person of Jesus Christ offered frequent reminders of what to do.
Do not fear! Be of good courage! He knew we would be afraid. There is no shame in that. But the difference is, we can't stay there. We must chase courage. How?
We choose courage until it becomes a habit.
And this habit, no less terrifying, will develop in both big and small ways, in headline-grabbing situations and in the ones no one will ever see.
For us, courage looks like our daughter Wesley Kathryn Shaver. She suffered a severe knee injury that required excruciating surgery. In an instant, the coveted summer internship she'd worked for since she was 15 vaporized. In a split second, her summer was dedicated to physical therapy and learning to bend her knee again.
She taught herself to bake bread, studied wildlife, and published her third in a series of books. Despite the obstacles and great pain, she kept showing up. That took courage.
Perhaps for you, it's not surgery. Maybe it's trying to teach your kids to do what's right, even at significant personal risk, even when it hurts. How does that look? It starts young.
It looks like middle school kids asking their teachers why certain kids can come to school in a costume, dressed as a furry, but they can't.
It looks like a high schooler inviting the new kid to sit at their lunch table, even if that kid dresses differently or is on the outs with the "in" crowd.
It looks like our college kids, many of whom are moving into their dorms this week, refusing to party because they understand that there's more to life than getting wasted.
It looks like parents and teachers pushing back against highly divisive theories, like Social Emotional Learning or Critical Race Theory. Yes. Those are not supposed to be in our schools, but then again, neither is common core.
Or, it looks like a family deciding to adopt without any known resources. Or, taking in foster kids at the drop of a hat. Knowing that while we celebrate kids returning to their family of origin, there is still heartache. Because even if it was brief, attachment still happened. And it hurts when they’re gone.
It looks like legislators, even if only one, are choosing to do the right thing, despite the ridicule they'll most certainly receive and the cushy committee spots they'll most certainly lose.
It looks like doctors and nurses combatting COVID lies with truth, even if they look at you like you've got a third eyeball. Yes. Even now.
It looks like walking away from churches that have parted ways with Scripture. There is no softening of God's Word. If your church has abandoned what the Word says, leave.
There isn't an in-between. Courage is both physical and mental. It takes practice. It’s what our world needs and it’s what our God commands.
And though we're not professional soccer players, we too, can choose courage. It is, after all, the glue that holds the other virtues together.
Aristotle said, "Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others."
Read Joshua 1:9, and no matter where life finds you, practice courage.
Amie Beth Shaver is a speaker, writer, and media commentator. Her column appears every Wednesday in 1819 News. Shaver served on the Alabama GOP State Executive Committee, was a candidate for State House District 43 and spokeswoman for Allied Women. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.
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