Today I was asked to blog about courage. My Twitter friend, Registered Runaway, came out to one of his friends today and cited me and my encouragement. He then proceeded to suggest that I write a post about courage. Immediately I thought, I have no clue what to write about in terms of courage! Why would he ask me, of all people, to write about courage?!?
But, the more I thought about it, I thought about how closely being a person of faith and trust is related to being a person of courage. My frame of reference became my own situation. Reason being: I have been told that it takes courage to uproot one’s life, quit your job, sell your car, leave new friends, and move across the country because you felt God’s leading and direction. Well…let’s put it this way, it either takes a lot of courage or a lot of crazy…or maybe a combination of both!
But when you really think about it, the life of faith is marked by courage in so many ways. First and foremost, it takes a ton of courage to put one’s faith in the supernatural, in the divine, when we live in a world of science and “proven technologies”. It takes a mountain of courage to trust in the God of all creation to be concerned with every little hair on one’s head.
Indeed, the life of faith is not for the faint-hearted. It takes a lot of courage to step out in faith and trust that God will heal, that he will lead, that he will comfort, that he will provide (money, food, housing, talents, abilities, etc.), that he will come to your aid, that he will take revenge on those who persist in doing evil, that he will show up and walk beside you as you try with every fiber of your being to love him and others well, that he will save you from yourself.
It takes a lot of courage to believe in a dead man resurrected when others around you call it impossible. It takes a brave heart to give one’s affections over to someone whom you have never met in the flesh but believe to be ever-present in the world and personally interested in your little life.
It takes a lot of courage to step out and build a big freakin’ boat in the desert when it has never rained! It takes a lot of courage to tell other people about this risen Savior King when the king of the land is killing and torturing those who profess to believe and follow said Savior.
It takes bravery and courage to stand up under unjust persecution in the face of your professional peers and respond with gentleness, meekness, and humility. It takes courage to lovingly speak truth to those who are known for their opposition and vengeance.
It takes courage to come alongside the broken-hearted and simply be with them without speaking empty words when tragedy strikes.
It takes courage to believe that there is something much greater to which you are called than merely crunching numbers or driving busses—that you are called to do those things with the Gospel in mind and with the desire to further the mission of Christ.
I think there is no doubt that the life of faith is one of courage in all its forms. And when you add to this life of faith a life of marginalization, the amount of faith, courage, and bravery necessary to share the deepest secrets and conditions of one’s heart seems to double—even triple—especially when faced with other people of faith who might possibly have different views. When there is a fear of being condemned or judged it is even harder for traditionally marginalized people to feel safe enough to be open about their lives. This is especially true for “double (or triple or quadruple) minorities” or people with multiple stigmatized identities (e.g., a Black, female, sexual-minority Christian). Can you imagine the amount of courage it would take for a Black woman, who loves Jesus with all her heart but also finds herself sexually attracted to other women, to open up to her White, male, heterosexual pastor about her struggles, fears, and concerns? Now that is some courage!
And this is what happens everyday to some degree for sexual minorities who love God. There is always a testing of the waters to figure out who is safe to hear their hearts. There is always this sense of hiding when you do not feel like you are able to be open and honest with the people you care about the most. It takes tremendous courage and faith to step out and trust that God will catch you should you open up about your experiences of same-sex attraction—in a world of predominantly opposite-sex attracted individuals—and the one hearing your heart drops it. That takes courage.
I commend all of my brothers and sisters who have opened up to their friends and families about their sexual-minority statuses (whether they identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, “no label”, ex-gay, or whatever). I completely understand the courage it takes to do just that. To be that honest about something seemingly so base but yet so controversial, especially in the world of Christendom, feels to me like it takes more courage than it took for me to quit my job, sell my car, leave my friends and family, and drive across the country to start a new life on mission with Jesus.
Anytime we are opening up our hearts for examination and review by another we are opening ourselves up for the potential of tremendous pain as well as love and acceptance. With that said, if you are on the receiving end of someone opening up and sharing his or her heart with you, please be mindful of the courage it takes to do what that person is doing. Please honor this person by trying to hear and receive what it being shared with a nonjudgmental, receptive spirit before you respond. Then take some time to pray and reflect before you speak. Sometimes when we share, we just need to be heard and hugged. You can tell us your opinion after we know you’ve heard us. (And side note: Responding in this way takes a lot of courage too!)
As I mentioned above, the life of faith is certainly a life of courage. And, I would venture to say that the life of the sexual minority person of faith is a life of at least twice as much courage. The more minority statuses one has, the more courage needed to live out everyday authentically. Courage all around!
In Christ’s love and mine…
PS: Thank you, Registered Runaway for the inspiration/kick-in-the-pants! 🙂