I watched in awe at the news footage that covered the bombings at the Boston Marathon. Tears welled up in my eyes upon viewing the agony and fear on so many faces. And amazement grew as I watched “heroes” and “heroines” run towards the danger to help those no longer able to run for themselves.
We will likely continue to watch in awe as families involved in this tragedy strive to find the courage to overcome their losses. They will face ongoing challenges that will require them to draw on their inner strengths and spirits to persevere. And you have to wonder – what causes someone to have that kind of courage? Where does that kind of inner strength come from?
I was reminded by a friend of mine that courage appears in many sizes and that many individuals must be courageous every day. Acts of bravery often associated with courage seem overwhelming. Yet the definition of courage is to face a difficulty or challenge without fear. Courage involves taking risks. This means that courage does not require a tragedy. Courage can show up during the typical day-to-day challenges that provide us with the opportunity to do what we know is right, regardless of the consequences.
If courage is looked at in this way, then it is possible to instill a spirit of courage in our children. And it seems to me that teaching the children in my life to be courageous begins with me. It is my responsibility to model courage. Whenever I stand up for or do what I know is right, even if others become upset with me, I am demonstrating courage. If I fail to act in a manner that supports my beliefs or if I let fear stop me from taking risks, I am not teaching courage.
It is also important that I help children practice their own ability to act courageously. This means I cannot take on all their challenges, but rather support them in taking their own risks, solving their own problems and doing it in a way that supports who they are.
And lastly I can help instill courage by ensuring my children feel a sense of self-confidence. The more sure they are about themselves and what they believe in, the more likely it is that they will reveal their own courage.
When tragedy and loss occur, it is natural to take time to think about what is really important. For many parents there is a shift in priorities; more time is spent and more affection is given to children. These kinds of tragedies make us feel grateful for our blessings, while also reminding us that there are some things we cannot control. I pray that the children in my life will never have to face extreme tragedy or loss. Yet should that day come, I also pray that I have instilled a sense of courage that will help them persevere. And should that day never come, I hope that they will have the courage to stand up for themselves and what they believe in, regardless of the consequences.