By: Mary Benz
I’m a runner. Oftentimes, I wake up early in the morning and the last thing I want to do is get out of my warm, comfortable bed and go outside for a long and inevitably painful experience. Sometimes, I just hit the snooze button and keep sleeping instead of doing what I know is the better option. But every time that I do make the right choice to get up and go running, I don’t regret it; I feel energized and awake for the rest of the day.
Relating this to the Christian life, it is so easy for us to desire the “easy way out” and not practice the courage it takes to live as Jesus calls us to live. But why? What is holding us back from allowing Christ to bring Heaven on earth through our witness? Why do we want to stay comfortable and “fit in” when Jesus tells us in John 15:19, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you”? For me and for many of us, I think it is the fear of being rejected and unloved by others that keeps us from being courageous and choosing to step out and live a radically different lifestyle than the world around us.
So how do we practice courage in a culture that wants us to conform to what everyone else is doing? Primarily, we can witness to Christ by radically loving one another and every person that we encounter. One of the first great theologians in the Church’s history was named Tertullian, and he reported that the Romans would say of the Christians, “See how they love one another!” As love revolutionaries, let us have the courage to allow Christ’s love to fill us so that we can spread his radical love with each other and the rest of the world.
In addition to loving others, we can also practice courage in other ways. For example, as women in today’s society, it is the norm to dress immodestly and forget about dressing in a way that respects our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. It takes a lot of courage to dress modestly because others might judge us or assume that we are not relatable.
Also, as we love one another in imitation of Christ’s love, we are called to forgive others for what they have done to us. This takes a lot of courage because it is so easy to hold grudges and experience resentment for others who have hurt us. Jesus wants to give us all the grace that we need to forgive others in the same way that he forgives us.
Additionally, we can practice courage by taking time for silence, which is definitely lacking in our culture today. It is so easy to fill every moment of our day with some type of noise, and it can be really uncomfortable to take the time to be silent and listen to the voice of God in our lives.
Even though practicing courage and being counter-cultural can be difficult and exhausting, Jesus wants to give us the grace that we need to live this way and rejoice in the freedom and joy that the Christian life brings. In Hebrews 13:5, it says, “I will never leave you or forsake you”. Jesus will walk every step of the way with us and when we fall, he always forgives and picks us up. We need only to place our trust in him and he will take care of the rest. Take courage, ladies, as we run the race set before us together!