Often the enemy of courage is the first step outside our routine comfort zone. I write today with the clarity of spending the past three months knee deep (no pun intended) in a life thrown out of its comfort zone. Uncertainty is scary stuff.
When you experience an unexpected emergency- an illness, an accident, a tragedy…you have no choice but to move into “what comes next.” Often it’s under the guidance of a physician, a counselor, or a family member.
I feel like it is tougher to have to make a voluntary decision about something that will alter your routine and push you out of your comfort zone. It’s way more painful than just pulling that bandaid off, it’s a struggle between safe and unknown. It may be very clear that the venture into the unknown is the thing that is right, is necessary, is socially conscious, and in theory, should be an easy decision. Maybe it looks very cut- and- dry to an outsider.
“You should just do it!”
You should. You need to. The universe is telling you to. It’s simple, obvious. Why don’t you?
But courage is not an easy thing to muster. You may think there are so many people around doing it better than you. It’s not true. You have the capability in every moment to make a courageous decision and make a small change that can have a huge impact. It’s that first step out of the “zone” that’s the toughest. And that is why I love my job and the folks that I am connected with at UUCW. Our church and community help with first steps.
Our community is a place which houses a variety of lives, each with their own courageous story. I like to point out to the young people in our church that the road to courage is not just one path. You can read about all the heroes that have made the history books or the news. Yes, please be inspired by their courageous acts of bravery. But also know, there are people who wake up every morning and do something that they have never done before- something that is right for them and for their community, but out of their comfy, regular routine- and that is equally brave.
I think about the young teen who leaves the safety of his bedroom and video games on a Sunday night to come out and meet other teens at the Youth Group for the first time. That’s courage. It will change that person. They’ll get connected with something that is bigger than themselves, possibly an activity that can help another. And when you feel what it’s like to help another, you grow as a human.
I think about a child in our Religious Exploration program who, when they learn something new, something about an injustice in the world, speaks up about it to their friends in school and raises awareness. They may be laughed at or questioned as to why they really even care about Indigenous People, all of a sudden. They probably won’t say that they’ve “stepped out of their comfort zone and chose to learn something new.”… but this is exactly what happened. This is courage.
So as we enter a time of reconnecting with people we haven’t seen for a while, or with people we are meeting for the first time, know this: even the simple act of getting to know somebody or getting updated about somebody, is an act of courageous learning.
Maybe we can all challenge ourselves to do two things this year!
1) Explore and try something new, a bit outside of our normal routine. Teach a class, join a community group, host a coffee hour, write letters to voters.
2) Speak with someone new and learn about their lives- either here at UUCW, or out in your community.
These actions may seem overly simple, but I guarantee that any small act like this takes courage and yet can change something in a big way.
And even if it feels really hard to make any changes to your routine, your safe zone… it’s a courageous act to simply accept that still, you are enough, right where you are now.
So, let me leave you with words from Brene’ Brown:
“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, ‘No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.’
It’s going to bed at night thinking, ‘Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.’”
With Love and Courage,