I recently met a single mom who absolutely amazes me, and she probably doesn’t have any idea how truly awesome she is. If you see her coming down the street, you’ll see a small, bright, smiling woman, who looks just like anyone else. The more you get to know her, however, the more you realize she is absolutely full of courage. I hope someday, with her permission, to tell you more of her story, but for now I want to share one little moment.
First, let me set the stage. Fourteen months ago, my dad passed away unexpectedly. Dad and I did a lot of fixing things together. We fixed computer issues. We fixed house issues. We fixed car issues. When he died, a lot of that “fixing” fell to me. Some of it was very hard to do without him, not just the work but also the emotional aspect of it all. Still, I managed to maintain things around the house that he would have normally handled or that we would have done together. I took on a lot of challenges, but I couldn’t quite seem to drag myself back to our car maintenance. When push finally came to shove, I gave up and took my car to a shop to have the oil changed.
Last week, my new friend walked into the room I was in, looked down at her grimy hands and very humbly, very quietly said, “Yeah, last night was my third night in a row working on the cooling system for my car.” She then went on to describe all of the things she had done, the steps she had taken to get it to the point it was at, and what she still planned to do in order to finish fixing it.
I listened in amazement. My mechanical skills and knowledge fall far short of what she was describing. I was encouraged. If she could do it, so could I. Yes, it would be different. Yes, Dad would be missing from the equation. Yes, I would probably have to find, maybe even buy, the right tools. But I could do the simple things.
Fast forward to the end of the week. My mom and I were getting ready to take a trip over the Beartooth Pass. (It was awesome by the way.) The night before we left, Mom remembered to tell me that one of the headlights on her car had burned out. I was almost certain we wouldn’t make it home before dark the following night. I wanted to run off, find the parts, and fix things right then, but my mom talked me out of it.
It’s a good thing I didn’t try fixing the problem that night. Have you ever changed the headlight on a Pontiac G6? I’ve never wrestled a pig, but I imagine it’s a lot like that—just without the mud. Not knowing this, I pulled together everything I would need and decided Tuesday night was the night to conquer. But that pig just didn’t want to cooperate. Little did I know before starting that you almost have to remove the fender to get the headlight out of a G6. A couple of times, I was tempted to put everything back together and start making calls to find someone else to do it. But I kept thinking, “If she can fix the cooling system, I can change this headlight.” In the end, I even got my poor mother involved (someone had to keep me sane).
After a half hour of struggling and praying, trying to get the headlight out, I did the only other thing I could do in such a moment—I YouTubed it. Thanks to a video touting some rather redneck methods, I had things figured out in about a minute and a half, and we had the headlight out five minutes later. When that light was fixed, I moved on to the brake light in the trunk lid of my own car. This involved crawling into the trunk to get the leverage needed to remove the entire assembly, which had broken at some point in its near twenty-year lifespan. It also involved an extra trip to the part store and, of course, tape (Not duct tape, but you get the idea). From there I moved on to the air filter, to lubricating one of the doors, and then I just tinkered.
I enjoyed myself thoroughly. Yes, there were moments of frustration. Yes, I fought tears when I went looking for a socket wrench and found a pair of Dad’s suspenders instead. But it was worth it all. It was worth the memory of days spent with my dad in a friend’s garage. It was worth the satisfaction of a new skill learned and a job done right. It was worth knowing I had done the right thing for my mom’s sake.
If you were to ask me if I would have tried this without my friend’s show of courage and determination, I probably would say yes. But I wouldn’t have done it with as much determination. I would have doubted myself even more than I did. I wouldn’t have had that little voice inside of me saying, “Don’t quit. Be courageous. If she can do it, so can you.”
And that’s the point. You may never know what effect your choice to do the right thing will have on those around you, but be sure of this—Courage begets courage. Keep doing the right thing, and eventually someone will see what you’re doing and say, “Hey, I can do that too.”
Maybe you feel you don’t have any courage, and you don’t know how to build it into your life. Get around some courageous people. Find people who are intentional about doing the right thing and learn from their example. Eventually, probably without you even realizing it’s happened, you’ll find yourself doing the things you thought you could never do. Not because you had some sudden overnight change, but because it rubs off—Courage begets courage.
Has someone in your life made courageous choices that have pushed you on to do something you thought you couldn’t do? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!