Courage Is…

I am afraid of the dark. I may be 40, married with three kids, and working a professional career. I may have degrees and licenses. I may be well-educated enough to know that the bogeyman does not exist.

But I am afraid of the bogeyman who hides in the dark.

I quickly learn where the light switches in any given room are. Because when I walk in, I want to turn the lights on as quickly as possible. I hate having to wake up and use the bathroom in the middle of the night because I am then torn: wanting to turn all the lights on along the way versus not wanting to fully wake up so I can go back to sleep easily. I get spooked in dark places pretty easily.

And I used to think it was “courage” to walk through a dark room without turning any lights on. I used to think it was “courage” to go and look under my kids’ beds at night to convince them there were no monsters under the bed, while all along being scared that I would indeed find monsters under the bed.

But I don’t think that’s courage. (Maybe a little bit, but not really.)

I witnessed courage tonight. A group of people who have been overlooked, taken for granted, underappreciated, and silenced gathered together to say, “This is enough.” They did so passionately, lovingly, caringly, and with a spirit of reconciliation. They made themselves vulnerable. They shared their tears as much as they shared their concerns. They wanted to be heard.

And I believe they were.

THAT is courage.

Courage is many things.

Courage is standing up and saying, “I have been hurt.”

Courage is opening up to a trusted person and saying, “I need help.”

Courage is standing with someone who does not have the same privilege you do.

Courage is looking cancer in the eye and saying, “This disease will not beat me.”

Courage is acknowledging that something you have believed your entire life may be wrong.

Courage is looking at something insurmountable, and trudging ahead anyway.

I saw courage tonight. And it was a lot more than turning on a light switch.

It was a bold declaration.