When my son Benjamin was about to turn seven, he only asked for one gift. “COURAGE.” And I could tell he was intent on figuring out how to get his gift. “Well, how do you get more courage, mom?” I looked at my husband a little puzzled wondering “Where does he get this stuff?” and “How do we box up some courage?” I’ve heard of liquid courage but courage in a box may be a bit more difficult to find. I looked up the meaning and by definition courage is the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty. More importantly we found out in latin the root “Cor” means from the heart.
I guess life is tough even in the second grade. As we talked more, Ben explained that he needed courage because the taller and faster boys at school already had it. He envisioned courageous people as warriors with suits of armor, superheroes, army men, and the roughest and toughest boys at school. I assured Ben courage would come if he prayed about it.
I still was taken back that my son was so concerned with physical strength and believed that “COURAGE” was only being fast and fierce. Although physical strength can be an important attribute to courageous people, it is not the only one. I wanted to find a way to teach him what true courage really is.
To me, true courage is not just physical strength of super heroes using brutal force to attack an opponent. It is not the fiercest player on the team who scores every goal, but ignores the other players on the field. I explained to Ben a courageous team will come back and play again after it is defeated. It is the runner who determined to win, but will stop to help someone who has fallen.
- The first part of courage is being brave, persevering and overcoming obstacles.
- More important the second part was whether or not a person had heart and compassion.
As we are surrounded with love from others, we build up an abundance of strength. Our family, friends, and church give us this love and support. Then in turn loving deeply is courage. With love in our hearts and God by our side we can persevere and overcome the obstacles that we face. Courage is having compassion for your friends and your family. It is always being humble. Courage is being unashamed of the scars we live with. It means we were stronger because of them and have overcome. When we walk with courage we share a voice and a smile. Our hearts are always open to the people around us.
This Christmas I have had caught a glimpse of true courage that touched my heart. I met Richard at church about 100 times over the past 2 years. I always got a smile but never knew his story. One night I shared my story with the youth at church and met his children Caleb and Kaleigh. Now it was Richard’s turn. Richard shared his story of his wife who just passed away and Caleb who was diagnosed with All Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Caleb is 13 years old young man with a heart of gold. Like any boy his age he likes playing his video games and being silly with his friends. I have never seen Caleb without his contagious smile. He has been poked, prodded and has shown tremendous courage through rounds of chemotherapy. This week, Caleb will be receiving a bone marrow transplant from his sister Kaleigh. This family’s journey is one of faith, family, love and TRUE COURAGE. True courage and unabiding love are gifts that most people search for their entire lives.
My friend, you are stronger than you think. I walk by you smiling and poised. I will never express to you that I know what you are going through. I know that you are about to walk onto the battlefield. I see how proud you are of the courageous young man you have raised. Two amazing and blessed children. First daddy, then doctor. As I teach my son about courage, Caleb is the role model he will see and has heard about. Someone who is humble and selfless. His contagious smile has touched so many along with my heart. As Caleb sends bags of love to kids in the hospital, he has now put the “cor” in his courageous journey. Richard, I see how strong your faith in God is and how your children care about others. Let your strength come from the prayer warriors who love and support you. Trust in God’s plan and know that this journey has impacted the lives of so many people.
I now can teach my son the most important lesson about courage. “If you’ve got “cor” you are cool!” The person that lives courageously follows their heart. Courage can be seen everywhere. We see courage in the military in men that fight for our country, in veterans, and of course superheroes. Although the unseen heroes, the ones that overcoming the obstacles they live with each and every day, are also courageous. Caleb and Kaleigh are examples of courage that show not only perseverance but heart. That have overcome the obstacles that have been placed in front of them and are still smiling. They are still humble and giving to the people around them.
This Christmas Ben wrote his letter to Santa. He asked for Skylanders and Pokemon cards and on the back he made one request to Santa stating: “Santa, if you know God could you ask him to bring me some courage this year for Christmas.”
My prayer this year is that we all look at the courage of Caleb. I hope that when our children are opening gifts on Christmas morning, we look at what the real gifts are sitting right in front of us. Each day is a gift and every moment is a blessing.
“Be Strong and Courageous. Do not be Afraid or Terrified because of them, for the Lord God goes with You.” Deuteronomy 31:6