Let Your Heart Take Courage
By Laurel Droz
"Be strong, and let your heart take courage..." Psalm 31:24
Sometimes it's hard to know the right thing to do.
In the stories we hear growing up it's so much easier: there are heroes and villains and everyone acts according to their archetype.
Real life is more complicated.
People aren't just one thing or another. They make good choices and bad decisions, have kind intentions that work out with negative consequences, make mistakes that echo out and reverberate throughout a lifetime or try one thing and achieve something else entirely. We are all both the hero and the villain, depending on who is telling the story.
But we try our best, don't we? We try to proceed through life honorably, choosing to do good things when good things need doing. It gets complicated when the right thing is unclear. And sometimes it stays complicated when the right choice--the thing the hero would do--is obvious, but hard.
When I was a kid I was wildly unpopular. Socially awkward and morally rigid, I made an easy target for bullies. The bus ride home was the worst. They would always find something to tease me about: my hair, my weight, my regrettable fashion choices, the deeply uncool things that held my interest. I was such an easy target, and kids took aim daily.
Except when they didn't.
There were a few occasions when for one reason or another someone else caught their ire. It was odd to see them close in on someone else, to hear them sneer and try to dig deep with their words, hoping to draw tears if not blood. I would see the panic that surely must have flooded my own eyes most days in the eyes of that day's unlucky victim, and my stomach pained as the right thing, the heroic thing, became clear. I should stand up for this kid. I should let them know they weren't alone and that even if I could not shield them I would at least stand beside them. I knew it was what my mom would want. I knew it's what the good guys on TV would do. It was so obviously the righteous choice.
And it's not what I did.
I sat there, eyes down, lips pursed, conscience screaming. I sat there letting undeserved relief wash over me that this time it wasn't me they were teasing.
I knew the right thing to do, and I didn't do it.
You might think it gets easier as an adult. It doesn't.
Most of the time we can explain it away as situations being multifaceted and the right choice often seeming muddled. But we still get those moments, those moments when we make a definite choice, don't we?
Even in these times when everything is murkey we get these moments of clarity that, in this instant, there is decision to be made. And in that moment you can be quiet, you can be popular, or you can be brave.
If you see someone who needs your help or you hear someone speaking hate or you see a story unfolding in desperate need of a hero, be brave. Even when it isn't easy. Even when it isn't welcome. Even you wish it could be anyone else but you to do it-- be brave.
You only get so many chances in a lifetime to be a hero. Here's hoping when our moments come, we rise to meet them and let our hearts take courage. Even if it makes for a more difficult bus ride home the next day.