Take Courage

“Courage is found in unlikely places.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

I love the part in The Wizard of Oz when the cowardly lion receives his medal of courage. Sure it’s touching to see the tin-man receive his heart, and the scarecrow his brain, but something about the lion has always resonated most with me. Maybe it’s because sometimes I’m just like the lion, preferring to stay in my comfort zone rather than venturing into the woods full of lions and tigers and bears (oh my!).  

If we are honest, life takes a whole lot of courage. We need courage to make decisions that could affect the course of our lives, and courage to face circumstances that unexpectedly change our courses.

In the last couple of months, I’ve been witness to great amounts of courage exhibited by folks around me. While they might not have picked these challenges, they are truly earning their medal of courage as they face the loss of a job, an unexpected diagnosis or parenting children alone. Perhaps Tolkien meant that “courage is found in unlikely places” because it’s likely that we would not have chosen the circumstances necessary to develop this trait within.

And yet, courage is developed not only in our great trials, but also in the everyday ways we try to faithfully pursue our callings-especially as artists. As I think about the Art House community, I am so inspired by the ways y’all are courageously pursuing creativity. I think about the bravery it takes to even show up at an Art House Exchange for the first time when you don’t know a soul, or to perform your newest song at Feedback to be critiqued by other songwriters. There is something so vulnerable about putting your creation out there for others to see, and hoping that it means something to someone.

Many of you have spent countless hours working on a new series of paintings or working on a manuscript, and I think about the courage it takes to put it all up in a gallery or publish your writing and then invite friends and critics alike to explore your creation. I’ve witnessed some of you take the financial risk of working only part time to be able to create more during the week; or in some cases, you traded a secure corporate job to use your skills for a non-profit you are passionate about.

It would’ve been so much easier to keep your artwork to yourself, or stay in that comfortable job, all to avoid the lions and tigers and bears that come along with taking risks in life. Your courage has not only inspired me, but it encourages the rest of our community as we take one step at a time to become the people we are created to be.

What small step can you take today to pursue this kind of courageous life?