by Carter Lloyd
“The ability to do something that frightens one.” That’s how Oxford defines the word courage. Yet, when thinking about what it means to have courage, many people think it’s all about facing our biggest fears, confronting the monster in the closet, jumping out of an airplane, or standing up for the little guy. But, what if I told you that having courage is something much less grandiose?
Before we can truly define courage, we need to breakdown what it means to experience fear. Oxford defines fear as, “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.”
I think it’s safe to say, no one really enjoys being afraid. There is a big difference between being afraid because something has the potential to cause you harm (like cliff diving) and experiencing simulated fear from going to see “IT Chapter 2” (the newest movie based on Steven King’s best-selling novel). When you go see a scary movie, you know that at the end of the day, you are actually safe, and there is no real danger to you. However, when you’re about to jump out of an airplane 13,000 feet above the earth, your fear is likely based on the idea of doing something you've never done that could cause discomfort, pain, harm, or uncertainty in some for or another. That’s the fear we are talking about. And it’s times like that when you truly find out what it means to be courageous.
Fear isn't just something that gets your heart pumping and your adrenaline going. It's also something that'll throw you into a fight or flight response. That said, I’ve found it’s common to misconstrue courage and faith. And I’m guessing you’re not afraid to get in your car and turn it on: because you have faith it won’t blow up.
Likewise, you’re not being courageous for getting into your car and driving to the grocery store, you’re being an adult. So, I would like to suggest that courage has little to do with faith, and a lot more to do with hope.
When you're getting ready to plunge out of an airplane into a 120mph free fall, you hope the parachute strapped to your back is going to open and that you will consequently avoid hitting the ground with an emphatic thud, splattering your guts across the earth. It’s hope that feeds courage, and faith is a nice side dish.
So, what is courage? Well, that is a hard question to answer, it’s going to look different for everyone. But, if you take a close look at what it means to you, you’ll find it’s based on your biggest hopes. Personally, I hope that one day I’ll find a woman to spend the rest of my life with. So, I have the courage to take actionable steps towards finding her.
Nevertheless, your definition of courage may be different than mine based on what your hopes. And in order to discover that definition, you just have to answer one simple question: “What am I hoping for?”
**Carter Lloyd has helped co-found Courage Over Fear alongside Steve Cabe for the past two years and currently serves as Blog Developer. He is incredibly passionate about serving others and helping underprivileged youth. Currently, Carter volunteers at a church plant outside Indianapolis, IN and works as a shift supervisor at Starbucks. In his free time you can find him having meaningful conversations with others, serving inmates through local prison ministry, or testing out local coffee shops.