Inspire Courage

Self, Calling

Contributed by: Inner City Youth Alive

By Kent Dueck, Executive Director ICYA

Maybe some of you got gutsy and made a New Year’s resolution.  It takes courage because the odds are stacked against you. Every time we set our focus on a better way for our lives a combination of opportunity and danger lurks before us.  For new things to happen in our lives we have to overcome our old ways, and old ways die hard. The prospect of stepping up your game to start a new diet or getting serious about exercise could open a whole new way of living for you, but the potential to fail at these things is also there and your failures always want to define you.  If you have tried before and failed, you already have your definition of self. You know it in your soul. You feel that you are a loser, so how dare you do great things? The danger in trying and failing is that you can end up just giving up on yourself altogether.

When we offer a new opportunity to someone in our ministry it can sometimes be received with some fear and trepidation.  What if I fail? What if I don’t live up to the expectations? What if I start out strong and then drift off into some lacklustre mediocrity.  All the wisdom of sages that say, “it is better to have tried and failed, than never to have tried at all,” rings hollow when you are sitting there.  Words like these are little consolation.

Some time ago I was talking with a young woman from our community.  I was listening as she poured out her story. She was talking about these “almost moments.”  A program that she almost got through but fell apart in the eleventh hour. She almost graduated, but a few weeks before that day things fell apart and she walked away.  There were other almost moments that she shared. I was listening and asking God to give me a word while I listened. I was really present, but also praying “God, what does she need to hear from you right now?”  She was really in a desperate place and wanted to get through it all. So I got the nudge to push her a little. I offered up my thought that maybe she was afraid to succeed. The phone went quiet as she thought about that.  We ended our call with her saying that she would think about this some more. A few months later I bumped into her on the street. She was beaming and really happy to see me, as I was to see her. After a hearty and happy hello between us she said, “I thought about me being afraid of success and realized you were right. I was afraid.”  The conversation continued as she told me how she had felt that she could only fail at life. The prospect of success was almost mortifying. It was a combination of the things she had heard growing up and that she didn’t have any role models to show her that she could have a good life. We celebrated the fact that she was now working and off welfare.  She was working as an educational assistant, giving back to her community and living into a completely different definition of self. She had overcome her fear of success and it really showed in her face.

The word “encourage” captures the idea.  To encourage someone is by definition “to inspire someone with courage.”  I have had people that certainly inspired me with courage. So often I have heard a word or had someone tell me that they believed in me right when I needed to hear it.  When we set out to do great things in our lives we need someone to come along and call out the greatness that they and God can see in us. Be that person today!

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

– Marianne WIlliamson