Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. Lao Tzu
During a web search for quotes about courage, I found that most quotations suggest that courage precedes before all other virtues. First you need courage and then you can be kind and compassionate and generous. I find it easy to agree with this order of moral quality. So it gave me pause in reading the ancient teacher Lao Tzu’s perspective. He tells us that it is loving another which gives us courage. What he really reveals is this: It starts and ends with love.
In preparation for writing this blog, I first had to sit with various definitions of what courage is understood to mean. I read the following:
- the ability to do something that frightens one;
- strength in the face of pain or grief.
I then found the following definition to be a more full and complete definition:
- mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty (Merriam Webster).
The origin of the word courage comes from Middle English corage, from Anglo French curage, from coer (heart), from Latin cor. In other words, courage comes from the heart, the way of love. As Maya Angelou wrote, “One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”
It starts with love. We are born loving. We are born to be loved foremost. Compared to other mammals, human infants would need to be in utero another 12 months to have the same capacities of new life as other infant mammals. Foals are able to stand and walk within hours. Kittens and puppies within weeks. Human babies take 9-12 months (or more) to walk. As newborns, we are completely dependent. We start with love, not courage. And love is what keeps babies thriving.
When you watch a child that is deeply loved, it is this love which provides a strong foundation to explore, to fall, cry and get back up to try again. A loved child builds courage to touch and taste the world. A loved child develops the resilience to face the great challenges of life.
When I was 10 years old, my father was killed in an industrial accident with burns over much of his body. Though he loved his children deeply, my mother showed us the burns to explain that he didn’t leave because he didn’t love us, but because of the burns. Because he loved us first, and we knew it in our bones, we had the courage to face both the tragedy and the aftermath of a parent’s death. To this day, his spirit continues to demonstrate his love for me, a love that nurtures my courage to step out and into the fullness of my potential.
About 10 years ago my grandfather died. Three days prior to his 85th birthday, our whole family gathered to celebrate his birthday around his death bed. We expressed our love and gratitude to him for the love and commitment and mentoring he had shown us in our lives, through song and prayers and story-telling. He came and lived before us and left a legacy of love and gentleness for us to follow. Because he loved us deeply, and we knew it, he developed the courage to face his own death, his own transition back into Spirit. He knew he would have to travel this journey and leave us behind. Just as coming into this world is a courageous act, so is leaving this world and trusting that those you are leaving will be well. It is love that first nurtured such courage in both of their hearts. And it is love that builds courage in the next generation to step out and forward to create their future of good fortune and blessing.
Lao Tzu says when we love another deeply, we build courage. When we receive love, we build strength. When we are courageous because we love and receive love, we have more joy. We develop the joy that comes with loving when hurt is still mending, for we will indeed have to face this life experience. Love gives us the courage to open our hearts to give more love and to receive love, even after the hurt, the rejection, the betrayal. Love is the deep motivator to be courageous and open to one’s inner knowing and wisdom that guides us to face the fear pressing in, shrinking our mind and our relationships.
If you are afraid, or if you are struggling to exercise the courage to follow your heart and pursue your dream, perhaps you need to contemplate your inner state of being loved and deeply loving another. If you don’t feel strong, where do you need to open your heart and receive love? And if you lack courage, then where do you need to more deeply love another?
To thrive with courage, first deeply love. Courage is love. Courage is my soul. It is my potential. I was born to love and be courageous. I came through the birth canal, riding the waves of contractions, to come head first into a sea of light into a new world. I am hard-wired to be resilient. To take the knocks of life, to get back up and keep choosing love. And so are you!
So please, keep loving deeply. That’s courage, and you have it in you. Contact Shirley Lynn for individual coaching and whole life therapies to bring healing to the stories of love that need to be transformed. Find the courage to awaken and re-kindle your heart’s truth and passion.