Choosing Courage

Choosing Courage

Okay, people.

Something exciting is happening here on the blog today! I’ve been asked to be a part of the Skinny Dip Society Blog Tour, hosted by Katie Den Ouden! There are 19 other awesome women preparing blogs for you all month long to inspire you, challenge you, and encourage you! Check the bottom of this post for the blogs that have come before me and the post for tomorrow!

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I remember it like it was yesterday. The first time I chose courage over fear. I was three feet in the air, staring down at the mat, my feet offset so they’d both fit on the 4-inch balance beam. My arms were poised above my head, and I was frozen.

Not two minutes before, I had made my first ever attempt at a cartwheel on the balance beam. I’d fallen sideways, landing on my shoulder.

The first time wasn’t the scary time. I had been somewhat blissfully unaware of what could happen. My naiveté carried my legs over the top of my head without caution. This time was different. This time, the ache in my shoulder as I raised my arms above my head was a visceral reminder of the pain of failure.

As my feet stayed shakily glued to the beam, my legs refusing to move, my breath becoming increasingly panicked, the confident eyes and gentle voice of my coach Jenny assured me, “You’re a brave girl. You can do it.”

I thought, “I’m brave?” Somehow, the look in her eye made me believe her.

I’m brave. I know how to do this. I’ve taught my body to do this. Just one more time. Just try one more time.

I inhaled deeply, and with the release of my breath, I whispered, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” As my legs flipped over my head, I felt it all click, and my feet both landed firmly on the beam. As I stood up facing where I had been standing, a mixture of relief and pride flooded my soul. I had done it.

My tiny little self had done it.

I’d always been shorter than everyone, weaker than everyone, more timid than everyone. I was smart, and I was good at that – being smart.

But just this one time, I had chosen to do something courageous.

I felt alive.

I felt free.

I felt brave.

Since that day, I have become more sure of who I am, and I’ve made a decision to choose courage whenever I can. It’s led me to some really awesome places, and on some really crazy adventures.

I’ve decided that fear of the unknown has no place in my life. God didn’t save me to give me a safe and comfortable life. Sometimes having courage has brought me to places of total joy and abandon.

Skydiving and zip lining through jungles (and even, most recently, zip lining upside down!) have given me new perspectives on God’s creativity and have given me moments of total freedom and a wildness that made me feel so alive and totally present in the moment.

Last week, I went bobsledding at the Canadian Olympic Park. We were flying around corners at speeds upwards of 50 mph, experiencing 4G forces, and I don’t have words to describe how alive that made me feel. I was giddy – giggling the whole ride!

Other times, courage has brought me to a place for me to be a witness to the destitution of others, testing my selflessness and generosity.

On my mission trips to the mountains of Chihuahua, Mexico, I had the opportunity to draw close to the brokenhearted, lost, and sick. There were so many moments of choosing courage and stepping into the middle of heartache to tangibly love people the way Jesus asks us to love all people.

God created this world to be ours. He made so many different parts of this world to be explored, admired, and defended – with courage.

I love to travel. I love to try new things, and to be adventurous. Each time I step on an airplane or leave on a road trip, my mentality is always the same.

Be present. Go with the flow. Whatever happens, be fully in it. If it rains, dance in the rain. If we’re delayed, create conversation. If there’s a new experience to try, give it a shot. Don’t let money stop you. Don’t let fear stop you. Don’t let YOU stop you.

As women, and especially little girls, we are often risk-averse. We’re told that Prince Charming will rescue us. We’re not supposed to get our dresses dirty, or play with weapons. As moms, we’re scrutinized for taking risks, because we have children at home.

For the most part, I love being a woman. I love being feminine, feeling pretty, and don’t even get me started on my high heels.

But being a woman means more than that.

God created us to be daring, too.

I have a tattoo on my foot. It says ezer kenegdo, and it’s there to remind me that my life isn’t supposed to be safe. I’m supposed to be a warrior. A rescuer. A defender. A risk taker.

Being a mother is full of risk-assessment and risk taking. I’m raising two boys to be Spartans. I want to be the best example I can of living life to the fullest, and for something greater than ourselves.

I want them to know that fear is normal – fear of different, or fear of hard.  But I also want them to know that choosing courage is holy. Fear does not have to rule our lives. It’s a matter of acknowledging the fear and choosing to move forward anyway.

As a mom, I want my kids to face life head-on. With total commitment and total abandon. I want them to love completely and without fear. I want them to trust Jesus and His plans for them and jump in with both feet, no matter the risk.

My oldest son, Noah, asked this summer if he could jump off the high dive at the pool. My first instinct was to hold him tight and keep him safe.

But then I remembered my little self, timid and unsure at first, and later so proud and brave. I remembered how empowered I felt by Jenny’s confidence in me, and realized how important it is that we cheer each other on and encourage each other to choose to be courageous.

I took a deep breath, looked him right in the eye, and said, “I’d love to watch you do it.”

He climbed the ladder, walked to the end, and jumped with such confidence that I cried. I still get choked up every time I watch him jump.

He’s brave.

And so are you.

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Ready for some more inspiration?

Click on Ashley’s picture for yesterday’s blog on her site, The Shine Project, about making life changes!

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P.S. Click on the picture above for a link to all of the posts and the landing page for all of the bloggers on the tour! There’s a place to sign up so that you don’t miss any more of the posts!

P.P.S If you are interested in joining me for Katie Den Ouden’s free 10-Day Manifesto Adventure starting September 3, click the picture below or click here! Seriously…check it out and join me!

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P.P.P.S. Check back here tomorrow for a link to Conni’s post tomorrow on her site, Art in the Find!

6 Comments

Katie

about 3 years ago

This is so beautiful, true, and encouraging Hayley! Thank you! First, the concept of raising your boys as Spartans makes me want to jump on my sofa and cheer and fist pump. :) Then, you tie so much truth and beauty into what love and courage is... acting in spite of the fear. A hope and belief in something greater... and this part sealed the deal for my love of this piece: "I want them to know that fear is normal – fear of different, or fear of hard. But I also want them to know that choosing courage is holy. Fear does not have to rule our lives. It’s a matter of acknowledging the fear and choosing to move forward anyway." Choosing courage is holy - wow. I hadn't thought of it that way. Thank you thank you!!! xo

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Hayley Schraufnagel

about 3 years ago

Thanks Katie! I'm so honored to be a part of the tour and I am so glad to hear you enjoyed it! Your review was so kind!

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Mary Jean

about 3 years ago

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." Helen Keller

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Hayley Schraufnagel

about 3 years ago

Love that quote Mary Jean!

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Meghan

about 3 years ago

Just wanted to say I loved this post! So right on... God didn't save us so we could live a safe & comfortable life. There is joy in the adventure, the risk, the abandon. so needed this today! - Meghan

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