Image of Paper TigerLast week I saw a bumper sticker that said “Liberals vote with their Hope; Conservatives vote with their Fear.”

It caught my attention.

I have been thinking a lot about courage lately, and when I think about the heart of the message in this bumper sticker I think it speaks volumes to how we “vote” in our personal lives. Are we making decision from our Hope or our Fear? All too often fear takes the driver’s seat. We don’t find our courage and we allow our beliefs and experiences to overwhelm us. Some people think that because they feel frightened when confronting difficult situations that they aren’t courageous. Not so. Courage comes from our hearts, from what we feel rather than just what we think and it is normal to feel frightened. It is needed when facing difficult situations. It recognizes danger but stands firm. Without it we would not try things that seem hard, leaving fear in charge.

We practice courage because it takes us toward our hopes. It brings us up out of the fear and into the light. It empowers us. It keeps us moving and growing. It frees us rather than holds us. It is our personal challenge to claim all of who we have yet to become. It is our journey from loneliness to solitude.

In my work I am privileged to bear witness to many acts of courage. Sometimes it looks big and strong, making a broad statement that others notice. But most often it is expressed in the quiet resolve to face another day. Public or private, our courage takes us on a journey of growth and empowerment. Amelia Earhart said “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.” So here’s to moving past the paper tigers in your life.

Practice courage.

Own the Hope.