“How do you become brave?”
The young Asian woman had been quiet as our group of Asian and Latina campus women talked about finding their voice in the American culture. I had related an example of suggesting a different approach on a project to my boss.
“In my culture women don’t usually speak up or give their opinions,” she continued. “But I have some things I want to say. How do I become brave enough to use my own voice?”
She was asking me. I don’t consider myself very courageous. A hero I’m not. In fact, I am usually a conflict avoider. Yet, I have had a few brave moments.
How did I overcome my timidity to stand up for what is right, to speak up for someone needing an advocate, to step up and take a big risk? As I thought about it, a few realities seemed to contribute.
I learned by taking small steps—over and over. When I encountered conflict with a family member, I chose to initiate a conversation instead of turning my head. When a friend was wrongly accused, I stood with her. When a project bigger than my experience needed a leader, I raised a tentative hand.
Each time I overcame fear or reticence, my courage grew.
I am passionate about my children and grandchildren. I will stand up for them, go talk to someone in authority on their behalf, relentlessly pursue someone who would hurt them.
I deeply care about families aching over prodigal loved ones. I will listen and pray and share their painful burdens though I may have no idea what to say to encourage them.
I am totally committed to encouraging and empowering women to become all God created them to be and do all God desires them to do. I will speak on their behalf, stand with them for justice, pursue ways to encourage, equip and prepare them to make their best contribution wherever they are.
My passion pushes me to overcome my fears.
Courage and power are often connected. It takes some power or authority to change situations, to make a difference. Yet it is often the power structures in play that erode bravery and stifle a voice. How do we overcome this and be strong?
There is a power source that provides supernatural courage. Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to live in us and infuse His power and courage into us, to give us the words to say, the heart to say them, the daring to stand firm, the fortitude to push through.
For me, living constantly surrendered to the Holy Spirit’s power, encouragement and wisdom in my life—day by day, yes even moment by moment--transforms this often fearful and reluctant woman into a bold, even audacious voice.
What about you? Where do you find courage?
C2013 Judy Douglass