another mother with cancer said to me after I said that I didn’t feel very courageous these days, in response to someone else calling me “courageous.”
Sometimes being courageous means pushing through the worst parts of chemo, the horrible side effects that have you physically and emotionally drained and, even while you say that you understand why some people stop their treatment, you know that you won’t. You won’t because of the nine year old boy in the other room, the husband lying next to you, urging you on, the many other loved ones who would hurt if you were gone. You keep going. You decide to tell your oncologist that something has to be done to make it easier for you, you decide to ask for IV fluids to get your strength back, you ask for prayers for strength so that you can do this.
Maybe courage is just going into the fray again — treatment, with all of its difficulties and indignities. Maybe courage is saying “I’m sorry for my part” in a relationship that has gone south, not to resurrect it but because you don’t want that kind of ugliness in your life. Maybe courage is saying, “yes, of course” to the friend who still wants you in her life and saying nothing to the one you didn’t expect would be there for you anyways. Maybe courage is sometimes quietly letting go of people or things that don’t enrich your life because you know how precious and how short life really is.
Maybe courage is understanding what’s really important in life — not that your house will win any cleanliness or organization awards, but that you love freely and fiercely those people who matter to you. Maybe courage is putting family and friends before work because family and friends are simply more important. Maybe courage is doing the best work you know how anyways.
Maybe courage is found in prayer, in asking God for help in getting through what sometimes seems like a near-impossible situation. That same courage can be found in being re-energized through worship with your church family . . . on those days you feel well enough to worship.
Maybe courage isn’t trying to do it all yourself, but is instead in knowing when and how to ask for help and receive it.
And someday — a very long time from now, I hope and pray — courage will be found in saying “enough,” and being ready to let this horrible disease take me to God.
Courage. It can be about so many things. It’s definitely about people who are willing to risk their lives to save others, about people who do the right thing in the face of overwhelming odds . . . but it is also in the quietness of one mother trying to survive to see her son to adulthood (and perhaps beyond), in knowing what’s important in life and what’s not, in recognizing the beauty of life despite its difficulties.
I think I’ve redefined courage too.
Cross-posted to Just Enjoy Him.