Courage is hard.
I’ve seen the quotes about courage not being about the lack of fear but not letting fear stop us, or having strength in the face of fear. These are true. Very much so.
But one thing they don’t tell you in “life can suck” school or the “you will get hurt” school is how courage is so intensely personal. It’s not that life is all about doing it alone or that there aren’t people to support you. It’s just that when a nightmare stares you in the face, no one else can face it for you. When failure finds me, no one else, no matter how loving, can remove that failure or make it a success. No one else can dare to enter the darkness that I face, because they just can’t and they have their own to face. Braving a wilderness can be done together with a lot of friends, but my wilderness requires my first step, my tears, my pain, my rising from struggle, my wrestling. We may have a cloud of witnesses cheering us on, but I still must choose to walk forward into that journey.
I am not writing this because I feel alone because people aren’t around me or because I am unsupported. That is not true- I am more supported than I have ever been during the divorce process. I have been blessed by so many good folks and dinners and encouragement cards. This has been amazing. But even then, there are more moments where loneliness crawls up, when people cannot be present, and I just can’t keep avoiding being alone.
And I do feel alone, a lot, and painfully so. And I have to in order to brave this wilderness. Being a single parent is hard, being separated is hard, being angry or hurt is hard, and missing people is hard. But I can’t continue moving back into life unless I also face the loneliness of my life and not fill every gap with other people. There are emotions others can’t bear. There are hurts others can’t bind. There are challenging thoughts that cut deeper than any friend or girlfriend or wife or parent can comfort. There is loneliness that not even my sons presence can fix. Darkness is heavy like that. Having courage is intensely personal because I have to accept that others cannot bring full light to my fully dark place.
Only if I have the courage to feel alone, to wrestle with the reality of aloneness as Jacob did before his wrestling with God at the Jabbok. God is the presence I seek who will not abandon because his steadfast love endures forever. At least, I am trying to trust in that now. This is a hard time because I want to talk about my fear, my anger, and my hurt all the time, but it is mine to carry to the foot of the cross. I want to process what’s going on and what I am struggling with in terms of fatherhood and what I am hoping for- there are many who care for those things and want to help me. But as a single parent, I find myself challenged with more alone time than time with friends. And in that alone time, I must do what needs to be done. Pray to the God who hears. Pray what’s on my heart. Pray for what I want. Pray, cry, laugh, resolve, and light the fire in my soul that only Gods love can light.
Courage in this journey of life is a personal work, because it is what God is doing in me to choose courage over comfort or control. God is working in Rome to choose forgiveness over fear, and humility over anger. God is working in me to see light where darkness has tried to make its home.
God will do so, if I am willing to feel lonely enough and allow my life to be empty enough for his gentle hands and grace filled love to enter in.