When my kids where very young, there was a special book that I read to them both. Once they learned to read, I encouraged them to read it again for themselves. It was a book about courage.
As a parent, I found it hard to teach my kids about the concept of courage, and yet it is something they face every day from the very start as they learn to navigate the world. Courage is a magical word, and such an important, valuable trait. Courage may take time to build up, and yet it also may be needed at a moment’s notice.
We often think of courage as the big things, like being firefighter who runs into a burning building to save someone. Yet courage is found daily in the little things too.
For a young child, Courage is needed to stand up and take that first step without holding on. It is needed to jump into a pool for the very first time, or climb to the top of a ladder.
As they get older, the type of courage needed may change, but the concept is still the same. Courage is being able to admit a wrong and say, “I’m sorry.” Courage is going to school the day after something embarrassing happened. Courage is trying out for the team, when you know that your best friends are going to make it and you may not. Courage is having to accept that you were not invited to the party. Courage is standing up in front of the class to read your personal essay.
As we become adults, the notion of courage remains equally important. Courage is pushing yourself into the real world with gusto. Courage is learning how to invest wisely, in friends as well as in finance. Courage is swerving away from that car accident and then having enough poise left to readjust the wheel. It is sending out that proposal, or asking for that raise you deserve. Courage is saying, “I do.”
And as parents, courage takes on yet a different form. Courage is putting someone else’s needs before your own. Courage is keeping your own self on the list. Courage is being able to say no, and mean it. Courage is knowing that your child could get hurt, and letting him or her try anyway. Courage is giving up a career that you love to take care of young children, not knowing where, of if, your skills may apply later on. Courage is putting your children in daycare and continuing on your career path, even on days when you may second-guess that decision. Courage is watching your child play goalie. Courage is having to stand up and be an advocate for your child. Courage is letting your child experience disappointment. Courage is trying something new or unpopular in the hopes that it might help your child succeed. Courage is waking up and doing it all again the next day. It is accepting that one day your child will be all grown up.
For all of us, courage is about standing at the top of the mountain. It is about the journey taken to get there. And it is knowing that the only way back to the ground is by a leap of faith.
What does courage mean to you?
This post was sponsored by author T. A. Barron and was inspired by his upcoming gift book “The Wisdom of Merlin: 7 Magical Words for a Meaningful Life.” This book is the wizard Merlin’s answer to the question “What is the meaning of life?” Surprisingly, the answer has only seven words — including courage. But they are the most powerful words of all. The Wisdom of Merlin is available for preorder now, and will be available wherever books are sold on March 23, 2015.