My recent decision that I was facing--the one where the seminary said I could either take another internship or sit and wait while they decided what to do with me--that caused me a lot of internal strife. I just KNEW I should stand and fight, because that's what a brave, risk-taking man would do. Taking the internship seemed like backing down to me, it seemed like shrinking back from a fight. It seemed like the coward's way out.
Now, I'm still fighting with myself a bit on this, but I realized that I wasn't afraid of fighting--I'll go to the mat if I need to--but I was afraid of . . . being afraid. I felt that if I chose the internship (which is really the wisest and wiliest option, all things considered), I would do so because I was afraid to fight. I felt that I would get stuck in a routine of fear, of always playing it safe, of ceasing to live for fear of taking risks. You understand? My biggest fear was that I was fearful.
Some really wise man (I honestly can't remember who--isn't that awful?) once said "All we have to fear is fear itself." I think at the time he was intending to provoke courage into action. But I also realized that it sometimes takes a brave man to make a seemingly "safe" choice. Sometimes it takes real guts to say, "I could fight . . . but I'd be losing much more than I'd gain."
I could fight for my ordination, and I believe I'd have a right to do so. But in the process I could lose a lot of things. Taking the internship--though it seems to be the "safe" way out--means that I still get to minister, than I get a paycheck which provides for the family, and I am still on track for ordination. Those sound like FAR better options than scrapping it out just because I'm afraid of myself thinking I'm a coward.
So, the moral of this story? Courage comes in unexpected places . . . and sometimes takes unexpected shapes.