I’m going to be straight up honest with you. I’m scared—a lot.
I’m scared of roller coasters, bears, being late for work, criticism, crashing my car, loved ones dying, pandemics, getting cancer, having a heart attack, shark attacks, screwing up, and mean people. Just to name a few.
Sometimes what scares me most is being who I am—embracing my gifts, accepting my good and not-so-good qualities, letting myself be loved as I am by God.
I wish I had more courage. Not the “No fear” bumper sticker kind of courage. But true courage—the kind that acknowledges fear, but doesn’t let it cripple me; the kind of courage that lets me do what I have to do even though I’m afraid. If I had more courage, maybe those sunami waves of fear and anxiety that crash and roll inside me wouldn’t knock me over as I surf through daily life.
Merriam-Webster says courage is the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.
Mary Anne Radmacher puts it this way: “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”
I’d like to experience true courage the bulk of the time. I’d like to be willing to face life courageously with all its ups and downs and be the Light that Christ says we are.
Tapping Into the Inner Source of Courage
So how do we get there? How do we gain the courage the cowardly lion sought in the Wizard of Oz?
Luke Healy from Integral Christian Network says we can’t think our way to courage. We can’t flip a switch in our minds to move instantly from fear and anxiousness to inner bravery.
Instead, we have to have go deeper. We have to tap into our inner source of courage, which means learning how to embody courage.
It’s a Gut Thing
Courage is located deep within our guts, Healy suggests. It’s connected to vitality—the power to live and grow. When filled with vitality, we radiate with strength and energy. We receive a “jolt of life deep within.”
This vital courage, when physically tapped into, becomes etched within our muscle fibers. It penetrates our cells, lines our stomach walls, and our bodies remember its divine essence.
Courage becomes our natural state of being. Our sacred bellies become a place we can return to whenever we need to feel the inner courage with which the Creator has gifted us.
Practicing Spiritual Courage
We can practice courage by experiencing it deep within our muscles and bones, like spiritual muscle memory. According to Popular Science magazine, muscle memory is real. It’s the memory stored in our muscles that lets us perform an action without our really being aware of it.
Like muscles, our souls have a spiritual memory. With practice and repetition, our spirits remember what it feels like to feel courage and other positive virtues so we can call upon them naturally as needed. By embodying courage, we embrace its power. We claim God’s spirit of divine love to be who we are. We experience and remember courage on the inside.
One pathway to experience inner courage is to open ourselves to God in times of quiet meditation, where we invite the Spirit to fill us with spiritual courage in every part of our Being.
Here’s some simple steps you can practice to touch and experience the depths of courage within you.
· Sit in a quiet place
· Close your eyes
· Place your feet flat on the ground or floor
· Take a few deep breaths
· Relax your body
· Be aware of God’s Divine Presence
· Feel the Creator’s unconditional love in and around you
· Wiggle your toes and draw your attention to your feet
· Feel the strength and stability of the earth beneath you
· Be grounded in God
· Notice the vital energy that flows up into your body from the ground
· Imagine your feet have roots like a tree diving deep into the soil
· Draw energy into your feet, up into your legs, and into your stomach
· Bring your attention to your stomach
· Place your hands on your belly
· Feel the energy flowing from your feet into your gut
· Notice what that radiance feels like, then savor it, rest in it
· Invite God to fill you with the courage to be yourself—here and now, as you are
· Let spiritual courage fill your stomach with God’s strength
· This is your core, your authentic self. You are held by God in the depths of your stomach with divine love and empowerment
· When you’re ready, bring yourself back to where you’re sitting. Feel your body. Open your eyes.
Enjoy the gift of God’s divine courage within you.
You can come back to this practice for a few short minutes anytime during the day when you need a courage boost.
Simply stop for a moment, focus on your feet, and then draw the energy into your stomach. Placing your hands on your tummy, rest in the divine courage—the courage to be who you are—that God has placed there within you.
You can also click on the link below to listen to a 14-minute guided meditation I’ve prepared for you.
Let yourself practice and experience the spiritual courage to be yourself.
—brian j plachta