Tonight I am attending the Lifeline Brass Blokes Awards as one of five finalists.

This recognition is given to people who have been through adversity yet still find the time and courage to give back to their community.

It got me to thinking about courage. I wonder how you would describe a person with courage?  Are the only courageous people in our world the ones that are seen to do extraordinary acts of bravery?

I like to think of courage as something ordinary people like you and I can attain to each and every day as we go about our ordinary lives.  After all, many of the courageous actions of others are born out of circumstances they did not create but had to respond to the best they could.

In fact, sometimes the most courageous decisions we make are to do with matters unseen.

I think of Rugby players as strong people, running on to fields where they give it their all. I think of firefighters as brave people, running into burning houses to save lives. But what I think is most courageous is when those same people, not only face physical battles, but get real about their own internal challenges, their fight for integrity, or reaching out to help others.

Strength may come and go but courage has to do with what lasts: our mind, our heart, our spirit. The ability to be courageous is what we need to pass on to our children and our children’s children.

I think of my friend who before he was diagnosed with MND / ALS was a coal-miner, the breadwinner in his family.  He found his identity and purpose in being able to provide and protect those he loved, but disease has robbed him of his ability to function in that role.  Going deep beneath the earth required his skill and strength, but digging deep within himself to live, dealing with emotional pain and physical challenge, is what makes him courageous!

I think of another friend as she undergoes brain surgery for cancer with extreme resilience, but even more inspiring to me is how her and her husband show tremendous courage in the way they are living on such and emotional roller coaster through the journey of this valley.

Courage is about the ability to face our internal fears, challenges and setbacks.

It’s facing the fears of having to change the way you thought about life, its being willing to talk about things that you once could ignore or hide behind a brave face.

Courage is not the absence of feelings but the ability to face them and still engage in the present.  

The simple act of communicating your fears to loved ones and not repressing them may take more courage then racing into a burning building to save them.

People who reach out to the likes of Lifeline, a counsellor or loved one because they are facing haunting thoughts of suicide, or are living with depression, abuse or addiction – they are in my eyes courageous.  If that’s you, I would encourage you to reach out to someone. Yes it will take courage but I believe we all have the ability to show courage in the face of fear.

Courageous people:

  1. Admit they have a challenge.
  2. Realise they are not alone.
  3. Understand that the first step towards help is the hardest.
  4. Know that help is not a hand out but a hand up.
  5. Are committed to changing for the better.
  6. Face fear not suppress it.
  7. Open up to people they trust.
  8. Stay in accountable relationships.
  9. Pray; they speak of their anxieties to God the one who loves unconditionally.
  10. Stay openly honest and mindful of their challenges.
  11. Realise failure is a step forward.
  12. Hope for a better future.
  13. Make their fear less important than the desired outcome.
  14. Love themselves and others enough to change.
  15. Live in the present and not in fear of what may or may not happen.