I recently heard from someone I worked with that the best gift I ever helped them give themselves was courage.
Courage? Huh. It got me thinking— very deeply.
We talk a lot about it– we have great memes and quotes in pretty frames in all sorts of nooks and crannies. But, what is it?
My thinking led me to my first marriage.
I married my first husband in 1997, but I almost didn’t marry him.
There were multiple times when my gut told me to walk away and I didn’t.
I had this belief that relationships are rocky– that’s just how they are. (This was something I saw all around me and I’m sure I internalized it as part of relationship code 101).
We were married for almost 14 years. I probably knew at least 4 or 5 years before I left him that I wanted a divorce.
But I was waiting for the ‘right’ time.
I kept waiting for me to be ready.
For the fear to subside (the fear of being alone the rest of my life, the fear of losing my house, the fear of starting all over again, the fear of judgment from others….. my fear list was seemingly endless at the time).
I realized something.
When I decided to leave, it wasn’t the perfect moment (far from it).
I trusted that I had the courage to walk through a new door– no matter what.
Courage held me when my body shook and trembled in fear days before I left.
Courage held me when I didn’t think I could say the words out-loud to him– “I’m leaving and no, this is not negotiable”.
Courage held me when I didn’t know what I was going to do without my home, my dogs, my ‘life’ that I had spent 20 years creating.
Courage held me all the times I didn’t think I could hold myself.
It would be a lie to tell you that the fear wasn’t almost overwhelming and yet simultaneously if you asked my soul— it never wavered in its strong nudge to move me out of my current life.
In fact, in the midst of all the chaos, the pain, the tears, I felt free for the first time ever.
My definition of courage (from the 16th century) is “to speak one’s mind by telling all of one’s heart”.
The heart has to be part of this process— and that’s the origin of courage, the heart. (The mind is the place where fear is created and amplified).
Courage never lies and says it’s going to be easy.
But she is there the entire time, a stronger force– a truer force than fear.
If you are waiting for the perfect moment to do the scary thing— it doesn’t exist.
But anytime you want to hack your life in the best way— I invite you to bring courage along for the ride. In fact, she may be a necessary passenger (at least for me).
I will tell you that I’ve never regretted any of the riskiest things I’ve done in life. I have spent a few minutes regretting not doing them sooner.
In those moments, I remind myself to love me in all my messy human ways and to remember for the future that I’m never going to feel ready and do it anyway when my soul says YES!!!!
With a courageous heart,
PS. Want to know how to summons your courage? To use it to walk into a scary situation, experience or change? I’ve got you. Let’s talk.