For the past two Sundays, we have examined this definition of courage: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to trust God’s Spirit and do what He asks you to do.”
That process of trusting God’s Spirit in the face of serious difficulty is a tough one, and it is often made more difficult because of our “self-talk.” We create narratives in our own heads that often impede our spiritual progress rather than help us.
I read an interesting article this week about Navy Seals and their 24-week training, called BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition Seal Training). It is an incredibly intense experience that includes sleep deprivation, severe physical tests, and tons of mental stress.
The training also includes something called “pool camp.” In that exercise, you are put underwater with all of your scuba gear on. The instructor yanks your regulator out of your mouth, ties the air hose in knots, and hassles you as you struggle for air. Only those who can make themselves think clearly come out of the exercise as a winner.
Amazingly, only 6% of the candidates actually make it to graduation. So why do few make it and many quit? After 9/11, our military was desperate to recruit more Seals, so they asked that same question. Then, they began to study all the data.
The results were surprising. It wasn’t the physically fit, macho guy that made it through. It was the used car salesman types. Why? Because those guys have learned how to survive a seemingly endless stream of rejection, and they still keep going. They just change their self-talk. Adjusting the narrative in their mind creates the courage to persevere.
You and I are not training to be Navy Seals, but we are warriors for Christ. At difficult moments, we tell ourselves stories too. If those stories are negative, we get stopped cold in our tracks. But if we rehearse a different story–a story of redemption and hope–we can carry on. We just have to change the narrative playing in our heads.
Courage isn’t the absence of bad stuff; it is the background tune that we sing regardless of our circumstances. We can sing that tune because we are thoroughly familiar with God’s grace and love. We have immersed ourselves in His story, and now we have the courage to do whatever He has asked us to do.
So, what’s He asked you to do this week?