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Find Your Courage

Is there somewhere you could use a little extra courage right now? Perhaps for you, today courage looks like writing a letter or making a phone call. Maybe it’s signing up for a class or a race, or taking the first step toward a risk that simultaneously excites and terrifies you. Courage looks like a million different things and shows up in a hundred ways every day. Having the courage to say yes to an opportunity, no to a request, to say hello to a stranger or stand up to a bully. We are rarely short of an opportunity for courage.

The word courage comes from the Old French corage, (and the root cor) meaning “heart, innermost feelings; temper.” In Latin, cor means “heart,” and remains a common metaphor for inner strength. Turns out what I always suspected from experience, is actually true: courage comes from the heart.

Until we believe we are known, safe and enough, we will have a hard time finding it.

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Every person and circumstance that comes into our lives has a purpose. Each one, no matter how short or long the duration; no matter how sweet or challenging the relationship, leaves a mark on us. It’s up to us to use those marks with intention; to allow them to change us and make us stronger.

I met a young woman when I was twenty. Her name was Amy. Amy was in my life only a matter of weeks as I transitioned from one chapter of life to the next, and she was everything I wasn’t: spontaneous, free-spirited, wild and artistic. She played guitar and sang in a band. She told stories of a life lived with passion and enthusiasm. Freedom and expression. She had no boundaries or limits; only big dreams. She was beautiful inside and out and she loved herself wildly. Not in an arrogant way, but in a beautifully self-assured, simple, confident way. Deep in her heart she knew she was loved.

By others? Perhaps. By God? For sure. By herself? Perhaps most remarkably so. That love; that strength; that oneness of her body, soul, mind and spirit gave her courage. Courage to be who she was. Courage to live a life she designed and imagined.

The last day I saw her she gifted me a book that impacted her life, and went on to change the trajectory of my own. I took a photo of my favorite page:

What is this for you today? When we walk to the edge of all the light that we have…this is when we grow our FAITH. When we trust in something greater than ourselves. When we fight to find a firm belief in something for which there is no proof. These hardest parts we don’t want to remember, talk about or share? These are our teachers. These are the clues to discovering who we are and why we are the way we are so we can learn to know and love even the hardest parts of ourselves. Because loving ourselves gives us strength. Loving ourselves gives us courage.

It’s why loving ourselves is our life’s work. You can find the book here.

How can you find courage?

1.Work with what hurts: Far too often we want to ignore what hurts and press forward like we’re fine. We insist: I’m fine, I’m fine. Ah hem. No, actually, you’re not. Remember, courage comes from the heart. Stop stuffing what is hurting and bring it into the light. You don’t need to be afraid of what your heart has to say. It’s where love lives! It’s where courage is. Find a trusted friend or speak it aloud to the silence of a room and your God. Let your tears fall. Feel what you feel. Let it teach you what you’ve been trying so hard to figure out.

2. Acknowledge what isn’t: In every loss or pain there is a death to grieve. Whether it’s the death of a childhood, a relationship, or a dream: it matters. You thought something would happen and it didn’t. You thought someone would be there and they weren’t. Practice self compassion. Allow yourself to grieve what didn’t happen. Who wasn’t there. What let you down. It doesn’t matter what it is, or where it falls in the imaginary hierarchy of hurts, it matters Acknowledging it is a necessary step to moving free of it. 

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-from the book, Pretty: Breaking Free from the Illusions of a Superficial Life, by Tammy Strait

3. Meditate on what you believe: You will be as successful, happy and loved as you believe. Instead of gratitude and faith, many of us are controlled by fear. While fear is a powerful motivator and protective inhibitor, it is above all a peace stealer. Give it power and it will take every bit it can get. Get your thoughts out on paper. What do you know? Sometimes I need to remember what I know is absolutely true, even when circumstances are hard.

4. Move: In order to find freedom you must give voice to the experience of your past, and then move free from it. You have permission to go back into the hurts of your past to heal, but not to stay there! To pursue your dreams you must accept and face your fear, and do it anyway. You don’t have to accomplish the end of a long goal today, but every day you have the opportunity to find the courage to take the next right step. For me, that journey began twenty years ago and continues to be inspired and led by a lifelong commitment to finding time for exercise. It changed the trajectory not only of my life, but of my hopes and dreams, and it continues to inspire and teach me how to move forward.

My therapist once told me: All we can do with the past is gather the wisdom. Over and over again I imagine my Cinderella self with an old broom sweeping up the invisible pieces of a broken life; a bad decision, or a fractured relationship. What lesson can I learn? What death must I grieve? What truth must I meditate on, and how can I move forward, even if I need to sit in the darkness for awhile?

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Pema Chodron says: Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know. As much as I want to take courage for free, or find it in a bottle, sometimes the things most worth having require a fight. It’s so much easier to wish the past and it’s pain could be someone else’s fault, and sometimes they are, but chances are there’s something powerful we need to know about ourself.

A truth that, in time, could make us know and love ourselves even better.

I never saw or talked to Amy again. I’ve searched for her online and it’s as though she doesn’t exist. I like to think she was my angel. Sent into my life at a time of great need. A time when I was discovering my own strength and identity. A time I needed so desperately the courage to find my dreams; to step into the darkness of the unknown. To risk the chance to fly. Amy was a light in a dark time and she made such a difference.

Is there someone who has been a gift in your life? Someone who has encouraged you to be your best self?

Whatever is holding you back or hindering your journey this day, work with what hurts. Acknowledge what isn’t. Meditate on what you believe. And move. I pray you will find courage to take a leap of faith, and find freedom. And maybe even wings.


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{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Melanie November 12, 2012, 6:16 am

    Mmmm I love this & your timing is perfect for me today. Love your angel story & am thankful for the many angels I’ve had in my life including yourself! xo

  • Krista November 12, 2012, 6:18 am

    Oh my goodness, the blog looks A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.!!!!! So you, and so beautiful! Don’t you just LOVE it? All of your hard work paid off! And the button is fab. Well done!!!!!
    And yes, YOU are one of those people!

    • Tammy January 22, 2013, 3:32 pm

      krista, melanie, miette, kelly…you are ALL treasures to me! xoxo

  • Miette November 12, 2012, 3:35 pm

    Wow, I feel as if I have discovered a treasure here. Thank you for your wisdom, Tammy. It’s very timely in my life today. God bless.

  • kelly November 13, 2012, 3:08 am

    YOU are one of those angels you speak of to me. amen amen to chocolate chip cookies in the airport… be still my heart i knew i wanted to be your friend. 😉

    • Tammy November 13, 2012, 4:17 am

      HAHAHA! it was destiny! you’ll always be my angel. love you higher than the moon.

  • Beth December 11, 2013, 2:39 am

    I truly enjoyed this tonight. I love the quote your angel shared with you. God has placed a few angels in my life right now that are helping me through a difficult season. It’s a season of trusting in Him. I’m so grateful for these angels!
    So glad I stopped in today.
    Many blessing,
    Beth

    • Tammy December 11, 2013, 4:51 am

      oh i’m so glad you stopped by beth! blessings to you beth, lifting you up in this difficult season. {{hugs}}

  • Julia December 11, 2013, 3:05 am

    Tammy-
    Could you please give the name of the book you were talking about?
    Thanks so much-

    • Tammy December 11, 2013, 4:53 am

      the book is a very unique and interesting one, but i learned so many really beautiful things in it. it’s called succulent wild woman, by sark. i hope you like it julia!

  • Kay December 11, 2013, 3:39 pm

    December, 1972. I’d just come out of a 10 year search to find someone who would love me unconditionally, and I’d found that person in Jesus. I was attending a week-long conference that focused on living the life of a Christ-follower. My group leader was Doreen. She spent one-on-one time with me, teaching me how to spend daily time with God, teaching me how to make scripture memory a part of my life. That one week’s encounter with Doreen laid the foundation for my walk with God for the rest of my life.

    • Tammy December 11, 2013, 5:11 pm

      ooooh i love the story of doreen. an angel. thank you for sharing!!

  • cathy December 11, 2013, 4:20 pm

    Tammy, this is beautiful. I have always believed and said that God will always send you an angel when you need one. It may be in the form of a person, a letter or card received, a book, a note in my box at work or a text from a friend, a full devotional which focuses on….shocking….EXACTLY what it is that is on our mind at the moment, or a scripture that comes into our sight with a fresh perspective. Or….it could be a blog post, such as this. What a beautiful story within a story. The message that amy passed along and the story of amy in your life overall. Thank you for sharing!

    • Tammy December 11, 2013, 5:12 pm

      thank you cathy! i agree wholeheartedly – there are so many angels, so many kinds for exactly the right moment. He’s so cool.

  • Noelle December 11, 2013, 6:30 pm

    This is amazing. YOU are amazing. XO

  • Karen February 12, 2014, 6:57 pm

    HI! I am glad I found your blog .. its filled with all kinds of healing words. I write a blog to heal as well .. I found this post amazing..

    what was the name of the book that woman gave you? it looks amazing

    Thank you for your blog

    Karen

    • Tammy February 13, 2014, 6:26 am

      it is called succulent, wild woman by sark. it’s a bit of a wild book – she writes in colors and talks about everything under the sun. but it’s healing. and real and vulnerable and so, so good. i hope you like it! you have a beautiful, beautiful blog karen! wishing you so many blessings on your journey to healing. xoxo

  • jayne lambert April 30, 2014, 3:42 am

    So amazed again!! I really needed this tonight. Even brought tears, maybe because so much of what I read really hits home.It touched me so personally. Just want to say thank you for the inspiration….loved it!!:)

    • Tammy April 30, 2014, 4:11 am

      Thank you Janye! So glad to have you here.

  • Corena Hall October 6, 2016, 3:24 am

    My amazing God He confirms in the darkness I find Him( light) and at the end of myself over the great abyss, He catches me before I fall or He teaches me to fly!!! What a awesome God we serve!

    • admin October 17, 2016, 7:47 pm

      Amen Corena. xo

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