Neighbors

Courage

January 30, 2017

 

“Courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid. Courage means you don’t let fear stop you.” (Bethany Hamilton)

 

I knew the moment I shared this quote with my daughter two days ago that she had had a lightbulb moment; I saw it in her eyes, in the way she tilted her head and glanced up towards the ceiling.

“Oh…” she said softly, “you mean you can still be courageous even if you’re fearful!” It was a statement, rather than a question.

“Yes,” I said. “In fact, without fear, there is no courage.” (Author Unknown)

She smiled and hurried towards the kitchen table to write the two quotes in her memorization notebook. They had made a profound impression on her and she didn’t want to forget them.

 

Those two quotes went through my mind again recently as I drove slowly through my neighborhood, heart pounding wildly in my chest.

“Would I ever reach a point in my life where I wouldn’t be fearful?” I wondered as I approached my destination.

Fifteen years in the same neighborhood brings with it a lot of memories–good ones, mostly. For years, many neighbors were familiar to me. Even if I had never actually met them, I recognized them as they drove past our house, or I would wave to them when we took a stroll around the block. But neighbors come and go, and these days I don’t recognize many neighbors anymore.

 

“Maybe we should move,” I suggested to my husband. “Maybe we should relocate to a neighborhood that feels more comfortable, with people more like…well…you know…more like us.”

But then I thought of Shannon. Shannon is a person who has inspired me to get out of my comfort zone. She and I have never actually met, but no matter. We share the same vision–to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Shannon moved her family from her dream farmhouse in the nice part of town into a tiny house on the wrong side of the tracks. She wanted to get down to the nitty-gritty of loving her neighbor as herself–not the neighbors that are EASY to love, mind you, but the HARD ones, the challenging ones, the ones who are dealing with poverty and addiction and other ‘uncomfortable’ problems. The ones who have stories that are rarely heard.

I have no farmhouse to sacrifice. But what if I were to remain where I am–in the midst of the discomfort and changes? What if my family and I stayed here in our home, in our ever-changing neighborhood, and do exactly what Shannon is doing in hers—love the people and listen to their stories.

 

Arriving at my destination, heart still beating wildly, I walked to the front door with courage—courage born of fear—to invite a neighbor, a neighbor I’ve never met before, to join me and fellow neighbors in my home for food and conversation.

 

With great enthusiasm, she accepted the offer, shook my hand, and said, “I’ll see you soon!”

Driving back home, my heart now filled to the brim with excitement, a third quote ran through my head–a quote that I’ll surely share with my daughter:

 

“True joy requires courage.” Unknown

 

I pulled into the driveway, anxious for the next time my heart would beat wildly, fearfully, in my chest, for courage born of fear is slowly becoming a familiar and trusted friend.

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