Women’s morning routines are as varied as Fergie’s shoe collection. There’s a fairly good chance no two are alike. There is one thing, however, that should become common to every woman’s morning, and that is Courage.

For one woman, this means courage to negotiate a raise at work today. For a mother, it could possibly be the courage to decide once and for all if her children will attend school in person this fall. For another woman, it is the courage to submit the loan application to launch her new business. For you, perhaps it is the courage to meet a neighbor and exchange phone numbers. When you look at yourself in the mirror, only you can decide what courage means for you.

We call on courage when faced with something we perceive as being threatening or painful, but we feel moved to do something. Courage allows us to take steps forward in spite of the threat, or reality, of harm, grief, illness, or losing ourselves or others we care about.

“Why haven’t I left this job?”  “Why won’t I exercise consistently?” “Why can’t I stick to my diet?” “Why don’t I ever say something?”  “Why didn’t I help?”  “Why am I watching, but never doing?”

What golden egg have those people discovered who seem to easily find the courage to make changes in their lives? Dr. Henry Cloud said “We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences [anything that happens after an action—regardless of whether it is perceived as good or bad] give us the pain that motivates us to change.” If this holds true, then one’s personal pain threshold (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual) acts as a mile marker for how far away from or close to “Destination: Change” a person actually is.

What does that mean for you personally? It means courage is waiting for you right at the end of your pain threshold for a particular situation. As you are reading this article, you might realize areas in your life where you are already there. You have reached the place where you can no longer take the pain of remaining the same, and you are restless to do something. This is where courage steps in and you find your voice, your footing. Courage is the place where you lift your chin a little higher, pull your shoulders back, breathe deeply, and smile at the woman in the mirror. Courage is where you begin to make a difference, and the best part is: now that you have found where courage is inside of you, you know how to get back there any time you need to.

Some have reached the place where they can no longer remain the same when it comes to systemic racism or social inequality, and they are using their voices and actions to speak out for change in spite of the fact that their families or friends disapprove of their views.  Others have reached the place where they can no longer ignore the voice of God in their lives, and they courageously answer His call to serve, not knowing where that will take them, or what the cost will be in their lives. Others have awakened to look at the woman in the mirror for the last time, deciding the unhealthy body they see is no longer acceptable, and they embark on a healthy lifestyle change that will be the one that “sticks.”

If you have not reached that pain threshold yet, do not despair! All behavior serves a purpose. There is a reason you make the conscious (or subconscious) decision to stay the same in that area. It could be safety, comfort, revenge, pleasure, escape, access—the list goes on and on! If you feel like you want to change, but can’t, give yourself freedom to explore what the real reason is—what the purpose is behind the behavior.

The DreamWorks movie “Rise of the Guardians” includes an amazing scene about courage, and if you haven’t watched it, you should check it out on Amazon Prime tonight. An evil character named Pitch Black (Boogeyman) is trying to get all of the children to stop believing in the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, Santa, etc. The more children stop believing, the greater his powers grow, and he replaces their dreams with nightmares. His dream is of a world that is pitch black. Toward the end, there is one child, Jamie Bennett, who still believes. In a battle scene, Pitch Black towers over Jamie casting a ghoulish shadow and barely holding back his sinewy black Nightmares, who are eager to be set loose. He snarls at the boy slowly, “I’m going to make you believe in me.” [SPOILER ALERT] Jamie looks the Boogeyman right in the eye and courageously tells him, “Oh, I believe in you. I’m just not afraid of you.”

Courage surfaces the moment that Jamie (recognizing the Boogeyman in front of him is indeed a real threat) chooses not to be afraid of whatever unknown pain, horror, and suffering that threat represents; courage lets Jamie move forward in spite of, not “in fear of.”

Wonderfully, in the midst of COVID-19, examples of courage are all around! Courageous bus drivers face COVID-19 all day, every day to transport passengers. Courageous medical professionals work in countless arenas with patients and potential patients uploading their vows to serve and to heal. Courageous teachers will courageously go back to the classroom because the schools are open. Equally courageous teachers will walk away from a job they love in order to protect their families. Courageous women and men will go to work in the public every day to keep our communities and cities safe. Courageous employees will serve customers. And we have friends who courageously share their personal stories or error and failure—no matter how embarrassing or shameful they might seem—so that others can find help and healing.

Is there a place in the fabric of your day for a stitch of courage? If so, what will you be courageous about today? Lift your chin, pull your shoulders back, and wink at that woman in the mirror—she’s already proud of you!

Photo by Septian simon on Unsplash