I am still reflecting on that whole theme of fear and courage. Perhaps it is normal that I should do so at this time. This year, crazy 2015, has brought me so much, but there has also been so much loss that at times it chokes me and makes me quite sick: the loss of a calling and a career, of financial stability as I knew it, of a routine (and we all know routines can be healing, restoring and necessary) and of other little hopes and dreams here and there.
There have been abundant blessings–and perhaps having to think about ourselves, our gifts, our limitations is also a blessing as it leads to us becoming more authentic, understanding more who we were made to be and what our place is in this world? Either way, I have been profoundly challenged to understand my character, my gifts and how best to use them, my motivations, my heart, my steadfastness before God, my strengths and my weaknesses. This, of course, happens every year but this year has brought a lot of milestones in my life and career–so the need for reflection has been particularly acute.
All this takes courage, I guess; in addition, people are asking me about my trip to New Zealand, about travelling alone; about how I feel about my uncertain future; and other situations are forcing me to show courage and optimism when that is often very difficult, not least the prospect of re-taking my maths GCSE!!!!
The other day, as things almost got on top of me, I tried to put down on paper what courage means to me. The outcome is the poem below and I want to share it with you. Who knows, perhaps one of you out there needs courage right now for a situation in your life; and perhaps knowing that it is (perhaps) normal to go from strength to fear in those situations is helpful to others as well.I firmly believe that it is in sharing our battles, our fears and pains that we, in our common humanity, can uphold and help each other to continue and persevere.
So here goes:
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear
(Franklin D. Roosevelt)
for the sake of something or someone,
Out of conviction that the cause is so great, the person so loved,
Your gifts, your potential role so unique,
That your sacrifice, your gifts are what it takes;
Understanding the bigger picture,
the price of inaction,
of wasted opportunities;
Risking failure, loneliness
As you step out into darkness
of what lies round the corner,
Accountability to others, even as humiliation makes mockery of your efforts.
Being frank, recognising your limitations and faults
And confronting them openly and courageously,
Even when reward and change remain invisible,
When criticism chokes you, when understanding or human grace
Gambling with your own desires, happiness; letting go, stepping out, out of trust
That the very best God has for you
lies around the corner.
Clinging on to that tiny spark of hope, seeking what is right and needed
In pursuit of that most precious of pearls,
despite knowing that our broken world may rob you of it.
And, through your tears, defying the lure of
ECHOs of the past, whose voices may tempt you
to turn and take the easy way out, to opt for second best,
In those darkest of nights
When your truth, your hopes, your dreams
lie naked, raw, unfulfilled
And your cries bounce unheard
Against a ruthless wall of silence.
© Nicola Rieger, 18 December 2015