I stood behind my dad, my hand on his back while he allowed the tears to flow. We had just finished packing up the clothes on Mom’s side of the closet. He was finally ready for that step and it hurt as bad as any physical injury. With tears on his cheeks he said to me, “How can a lifetime fit into a few cardboard boxes?” I had no answer. I knew the boxes were only clothes, but it felt like we were packing memories as we folded each piece and tucked them away.
Life after loss has been hard.
We cried together while I assured him he wasn’t alone, Mom had left him with a big family and we would always be here for him. But, even as the words left my lips, I knew we weren’t the ones he was missing.
No other person can fill that void.
It was on the drive home that I began to really think about the courage it takes to keep on living after the loss of someone you love from the depths of your being. How brave one was to keep going on day after day. But, then, probably because I needed something to put my mind on besides loss and pain, I began to wonder what it really means to be courageous verses being brave. Were they really the same thing? I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew there was a difference.
So, I began to do some reading.
What I found was so interesting. Although the two character qualities are similar, there is a distinct difference. Both bravery and courage have this in common: to face and overcome an obstacle that seems bigger than the person to whom it is looming over. But, there is an underlying difference that will keep me from ever using the terms interchangeably in a sentence. I am now convinced that the two should never be confused.
So, what is the difference?
Well, I can’t really word it any better than one of the summaries I read, “Bravery is the ability to confront pain, danger or attempts of intimidation without any feeling of fear. It is strength in character that allows a person to always be seemingly bigger than the crisis, whether he is indeed more powerful or is lesser than what he is tackled with. Courage, on the other hand, is the ability to undertake an overwhelming difficulty or pain despite the eminent and unavoidable presence of fear. More than a quality, it is a state of mind driven by a cause that makes the struggle all worth it. Unlike in the case of bravery, a person fueled by courage may feel inevitably small in the face of peril, pain or problems. The essence of courage is not the feeling of being certainly capable of overcoming what’s one is faced with, but rather is the willful choice to fight regardless of the consequences.” Difference Between Courage and Bravery | Difference Between | Courage vs Bravery http://www.differencebetween.net/language/difference-between-courage-and-bravery/#ixzz49O3uAMKr
Bravery is being fearless and courage is not letting fear be the deciding factor.
I look around me and so many are living courageously. But, I think the person to whom I would award the courageous medal, if there were such a thing, is my dad. I have watched him over the last year-and-a-half since mom died and he perfectly personifies the essence of courage. He’s never sure he can take another day of the loneliness, but he gets up anyway. He’s never sure he can eat another meal by himself, but he does it anyway. He’s never sure he’ll be able to get up and face one more day of the hurt that has found residence in his heart, but he dresses and faces the world anyway.
Not because it is easy, but because he has courage.
All these years of living have brought him to this moment, a moment of truth. Think about it, what if the one person who meant more to you than anybody was suddenly gone? What if you had prayed for healing and then watched them suffer and die? Would you still believe in God’s goodness? I know that’s a tough question to think about over your morning cup of coffee, and who really wants to think about sad things anyway? But, we will all face loss someday, if we haven’t already. It’s in that time of loss and suffering that your faith will be tried and tested, will you still believe? My dad does, he really believes in a greater plan, and lives it every day.
And his unwavering, sometimes messy, trust has made a difference in how I live my life.
He is “driven by a cause that makes the struggle worth it;” his faith. He has been a man of faith since I can remember; he tells the story of getting saved when we were only small children. Since then he has believed in a greater purpose, a divine Father who knows what is best. He has told us on more than one occasion that sometimes you just won’t understand why God chooses to do things the way He does. But, you need to trust Him anyway. You see, he and mom raised three girls, he was most definitely outnumbered, but to hear him tell it he wouldn’t have had it any other way.
They raised us to believe, and we do.
He doesn’t wake up in the morning without fear of paralyzing emptiness, he doesn’t dare the events of a day to try and overcome him, and he fully knows he is no match for what’s ahead. Yet he humbles himself and faces it all anyway. He laughs through tears and quietly packs up a life time of love in a few boxes because he has courage that there is still life left to be lived. Hopes and dreams to invest in, love to give and joy to find.
This road he’s been placed on is a slow painful daily walk. But, he has courage so he gets up “ready to fight for life regardless of the consequences.”
Seventy years on this earth has taught him much.
Not long ago I heard Celine Dion sing a song called “The Show Must Go On.” She recently lost her husband and is deeply grieving the love of her life. I watched her sing with passion and joy and with tears streaming down her cheeks. You see, she too understands what it means to live courageously.
Some of you live with courage each day. Loss or deep hurts have devastated you. I want to honor you today, to recognize your willingness to weather life in the “face of peril, pain or problems.” You get up each day and face whatever is coming no matter how incapable you may feel. I hope and pray you are discovering that the Lord is enough. He knows the level of your pain and he sees you as you pack away those precious belongings or visit the hospital again, or whatever it is that is hurting you so deeply. He has not forgotten. He is working and healing your heart no matter how it might feel at this moment. Hang on to that truth!
And remember, “The Show Must Go On.”
Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Matthew 19:26 “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”